Valentines for petsWith Valentine's Day around the corner, pet owners aren't forgetting about the animals that supply them with unconditional love -- but they aren't going overboard, either: They'll spend an average of $4.52 each on their four-legged friends, according to figures released this week by the National Retail Federation.

Pet-related purchases will feed into the larger love pool of $17.6 billion that consumers are expected to shell out this year for Valentine's Day, according to the study. The average consumer is expected to spend a total of $126.03 on Valentine's Day, up 8.5% from last year, marking the highest level of spending in the survey's 10-year history.

So, what can a pet owner buy for less than $5? A quick survey of Valentine's Day fare at PetSmart (PETM) found goodies like stuffed conversation hearts or plush conservation bones. And if love can make us a little bit crazy, imagine what catnip can do.

Pet Precautions to Keep Your Love Alive

While consumers are showering their furry friends with Valentine's goodies, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers this advice on keeping your pets safe when giving Valentine's Day gifts to your human honeys.

Candy, specifically chocolate, can kill pets. If your dog and cat gets into the heart-shaped box of sweets, the results could include seizures, an abnormally elevated heart rate, or inflammation of the pancreas, the ASPCA warns. Considering that 50.5% of survey respondents said they plan to give candy this Valentine's Day, it's worth a reminder: Keep those tasty morsels out of Fido's reach.

The second most popular Valentine's Day gift -- no surprise -- is flowers, with 36% of NRF survey respondents saying they plan to give their loved one a bouquet. And the ASPCA has a couple of warnings about those as well.

Lilies, daisies and baby's breath can be fatal to cats and dogs, according to the ASPCA. The organization recommends that if the recipient has a dog or cat, gift givers should advising the florist to remove all these plants, as well as any of the other toxic plants listed on their handy-dandy toxic and non-toxic flora and fauna site.

Additionally, red roses may draw a loved one near, but its best to keep those thorny beauties away from pets, says the ASPCA. Animals that ingest or simply bite the thorny stems may suffer serious infections or punctures. And if you're going to de-thorn roses, it's best to do it well away from pets.

Finlly, a romantic evening at home with champagne or wine also requires some precautions. Should a lover spill some bubbly on the table, -- for example, after a very important question has been popped -- better sop up the spill before your dog or cat does. Alcohol can play havoc on a pet's central nervous system and potentially cause a coma. That would definitely put a damper on an otherwise romantic evening.

Consider these pet-friendly precautions, and keep your love alive, literally.

Motley Fool contributor Dawn Kawamoto does not own any stocks in the companies mentioned. However, she is heavily invested in the romance of Valentine's Day. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of PetSmart.




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