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Help animals this Valentine's Day

For many pet owners, Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate their love for their furry friend and maybe treat it to something special. However, for people who are also celebrating the holiday with human loved ones, there are certain risks to watch out for to keep pets happy and healthy this year.

Chocolate is a common Valentine's gift, but pet owners need to be particularly careful that their canine companions do not access any, as chocolate is toxic to dogs, PetMD.com reports. Other candies should stay far out of Fido's reach as well - especially those that are sugar-free, as xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can cause serious illness in dogs. Many flowers may also be poisonous to pets, so make sure they get their own treats instead.

Another way to help animals around this loving time is to adopt a pet from a shelter. The American Society for the Prevention of Animals says that for families who are ready, there is no better way to celebrate the holiday of love than to open your heart to a cat or dog. Individuals who are not ready for the ownership of a pet may consider volunteering at a local animal rescue shelter or donating animal food to one of the 5,000 independent animal shelters across the nation. 
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