15:59 PM

Veterinarians on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is all about the love – displayed with gifts, cards, and candy. This scene changes at veterinary practices across the nation where Valentine’s Day tends to be less about romance and more about pets consuming chocolate, champagne, or – in one Labrador’s case – an engagement ring.

As the first and largest provider of pet health insurance in the U.S., Nationwide® pet insurance provides coverage for veterinary expenses which can lead to more happy endings in the event your four-legged family member gets into those Valentine sweets.

In order to best serve its members, Nationwide employs more than 180 veterinary professionals – veterinarians, veterinary technicians and veterinary nurses. When asked to share their memories of Valentine’s Day moments working in a veterinary practice, the team concurred that although the road can be rocky, love and veterinary medicine triumphs.

“Every veterinary professional has a Valentine’s Day story to tell,” said Dr. Jules Benson, Nationwide’s associate vice president for veterinary relations. “Some are fantastic, but they show the importance of being cognizant of your pet’s safety.”

A favorite story of Benson’s comes from one of Nationwide’s veterinary technicians, Kristen Britton.

“We had a newly engaged couple come into the hospital with their 14-week-old Labrador puppy who’d been sick for three days,” Britton said. “After doing bloodwork and X-rays we found the reason for the vomiting: The puppy swallowed the engagement ring! It was clear as day in the X-ray. Not only were the pet parents relieved that it wasn’t something more serious, they were also thrilled their $10,000 + ring was found!”

Britton goes on to tell how the veterinary team helped with a happy ending. “The condition of the ring coming out of the puppy’s stomach wasn’t great, but we ran it through the ultrasonic cleaner and autoclave before sending the ring and their pup home with them.

“Even better: The guy even got down on his knee in the lobby and proposed all over again. It was an awesome moment and definitely had us in tears.”

Other Nationwide veterinary professionals remember smiling at cats or dogs with natural heart-shaped markings, or coming in dressed in heart-themed costumes. There are also the stories of creative romantic endeavors by the veterinary teams themselves.

“Veterinary technicians take great pleasure in dressing up bandaging,” Benson said. “There are elastic bandages that come pre-adorned with hearts or other images, but some techs and nurses go above and beyond, using markers and stickers to make a loving statement for the pets they care for.”

Unfortunately, there are ample opportunities for pets to get sick on Valentine’s Day. On average, American’s spend $1.7 billion on Valentine’s Day candy and these treats could lead to life-threatening conditions for your pet¹.

If your pet ingests candy, it can cause an upset stomach and vomiting leading to an average treatment cost of $274 per visit, according to Nationwide’s pet insurance claims data. Chocolate, champagne, and wine are also toxic to dogs and cats with average treatment cost ranging from $383-$525 per visit. Chocolate toxicity, which includes symptoms of diarrhea, tremors, seizures, and cardiac arrest, in addition to the more common nausea and vomiting, can persist for 72 hours.

If you suspect your pet has ingested anything harmful, seek immediate veterinary advice.

For more information about pet health insurance, and for Valentine’s Day pet safety tips, visit or follow @NationwidePet on social media.

¹Source: National Retail Federation