Valentine's Day: Flowers to avoid in your romantic bouquet if your date has pets - and what to get instead

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Buying a romantic partner flowers on 14 February is almost a given, but picking the wrong ones could even kill their pet

What began as a romantic gesture could end in sending your Valentine's pet to the emergency room, a vet has warned, unless you brush up on your knowledge of poisonous plants.

The British Florist Association estimates that 250 million flowers are sold around Valentine's Day (14 February) across the world, making them likely one of the top gifts to mark the occasion. But while many are already aware their heart-shaped box of chocolates could poison their pup, Vets Now warns that its clinics also saw a 60% increase in flower-related cases at this time last year.

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Some can even potentially be deadly, Dave Leicester - Vets Now's head of telehealth - said. "The jump in emergency visits for flower-related cases at Vets Now clinics all over the UK is a big concern, given the highly toxic properties of many popular flowers being bought for seasonal occasions like Valentine’s Day," he said.

"We’d urge pet owners to be vigilant and extra cautious during times when you are likely to have more flowers on display at home than usual. Pets can be notoriously curious, so be sure to keep vases of bouquets and potted indoor plants well out of reach if you do have cats and dogs in your home," he added.

Leicester also shared his expertise on which flowers to avoid, in order to create a pet-safe bouquet on the big day. Here are some of the ones he suggests steering clear of:

Many popular bouquet choices could prove deadly to your cat or dog, if you're not careful (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock)Many popular bouquet choices could prove deadly to your cat or dog, if you're not careful (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock)
Many popular bouquet choices could prove deadly to your cat or dog, if you're not careful (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock) | NationalWorld/Adobe Stock

Lilies

Many types of lilies are very dangerous for cats. They contain highly toxic substances which can cause acute kidney failure, and eating of any part of the plant - or even just grooming the pollen from their coat or drinking water from the vase - can be potentially fatal. While lilies don’t pose quite as severe a risk to dogs, they are still toxic, the vet said, with the calla lily, peace lily, lily of the valley and palm lily all deemed dangerous to dogs.

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Tulips

It's not as well known, but tulips are also a part of the lily family, and as such, are poisonous to both cats and dogs. The bulbs are the most toxic part, Leicester warned, but any part of the plant can be harmful to your cat, so all tulips should be kept well away.

Hyacinths

Speaking of dangerous bulbs, hyacinths - although beautiful - are another you'll want to avoid. Ingesting a hyacinth bulb can lead to drooling, vomiting, or diarrhoea, depending on how much is eaten. While the highest concentration is in the bulb, the poisonous substance can also be found in lesser amounts in the flowers and stems. so they're worth avoiding altogether.

Daffodils

In the Northern Hemisphere, the beginning of spring and Valentine's Day are quite close together. In the UK, cheery yellow daffodils are just starting to bloom, making them a popular seasonal favourite. However, Leicester warned the yellow flowers contain a poisonous alkaloid that triggers vomiting, while crystals in the bulbs are severely toxic.

They can even cause serious conditions such as irregular heartbeat or slowed breathing. These signs can appear anywhere between 15 minutes to a whole day after ingestion, so you're in for a long, anxious wait if your pet gets into your bouquet.

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Chrysanthemums (and Daisies)

This family of popular flowers are a lesser known - and slightly less severe - offender. Chrysanthemums contain pyrethrins, which are used in dog flea and tick medications and are particularly poisonous to cats. They're only mildly toxic, but if your cat has eaten chrysanthemums you'll need to seek advice from your vet - especially if they develop vomiting, diarrhoea, or a lack of appetite.

Which flowers are pet-safe?

Good news - Leicester says roses, frequently the top choice for the day anyway, are nontoxic to both cats and dogs. He does, however, suggest, trimming any thorns from stems to help avoid scratching little paws or muzzles that may find their way into the bouquet.

Other great choices more a more diverse bouquet are lavender, sunflowers, and orchids, he said, while florists specialising in pet-friendly bouquets also suggest snapdragons, freesia, and pincushions (scabiosa).

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