Halloween can be the spookiest night of the year, but keeping your pets safe doesn’t have to be tricky. Take these simple, common sense precautions to keep your pet happy and healthy through the festivities!
Of all candy, chocolate is one of the most toxic to pets. Many dogs are inherently attracted to the smell and taste of chocolate, making it a significant threat. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. The chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous to pets, methylxanthines, are similar to caffeine and more heavily concentrated in the darker varieties. In fact, a 50-pound dog can be sickened by ingesting only one ounce of Baker’s chocolate! On the other hand, it may take up to eight ounces, (half a pound) of milk chocolate to cause poisoning in that same sized dog. White chocolate contains very low amounts of methylxanthine and rarely causes poisoning. To avoid issues, keep Halloween candy well out of the reach of pets at all times. If you think your pet may have ingested chocolate, symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures.
Pets are indiscriminate when it comes to eating tasty treats and can gorge themselves on snacks and food meant for humans. Large ingestions of sugary, high-fat candy can lead to pancreatitis in pets. Potentially fatal, pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and very painful. It may not show up for two to four days after the pet ingests the candy. Symptoms include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and potentially, kidney failure or organ damage
Some people prefer to distribute healthy snacks instead of candy on Halloween, such as mini-boxes of raisins. These are extremely are poisonous to dogs! Very small amounts of raisins (and grapes) can cause kidney failure in dogs and, potentially, cats. When it comes to your pets, raisins deserve the same pet-proofing treatment as chocolate – stored in secure containers far from their reach. Unfortunately, some dogs develop idiosyncratic reactions at any dose – in other words, they can ingest any amount and potentially be poisoned. Therefore, any ingestion of raisins or grapes should be treated as a “poisoning” case. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, decreased appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain, and severe kidney failure.
Generally when pets eat candy, they don’t bother to remove the wrappers. Ingestion of foil and cellophane wrappers can cause a life-threatening bowel obstruction, which if severe, can require surgical intervention to correct. Watch for vomiting, decreased appetite, not defecating, straining to defecate, or lethargy. X-rays may be necessary to diagnose this problem.
Pets, especially cats, love to chew on these items. While not usually life-threatening, their contents can cause pain and irritation in the mouth, as well as profuse drooling and foaming at the mouth.
Pets look cute dressed in costumes, but they might not enjoy it as much as their owners. If you dress your pet in a costume, be sure it doesn’t impair his vision, movement or air intake. If the costume contains metallic beads, snaps or other small pieces, be aware that if ingested, some metals (especially zinc and lead) can result in serious poisoning. Also, don’t be tempted to dye or apply coloring to your pet’s fur. Even if the dye is labeled non-toxic to humans, it could still be harmful to pets.
Keep candles and lit pumpkins out of the reach of curious noses and wagging tails. Sometimes pets don’t realize something is hot until they get burned. An accidental bump to a lit pumpkin or table holding a candle can result in the creation of a house fire. Consider using flameless (battery powered) candles instead!
Decorations and Lights
Keep your festive decorations out of reach of pets. If chewed, your pet could cut himself or herself on shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
Keep Your Pets Isolated During Trick-Or-Treat
Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, but strangers will be dressed in unusual costumes and yelling loudly for their candy. This, of course, is scary for our furry friends. Dogs are especially territorial and may become anxious and aggressive toward innocent trick-or-treaters. Putting your dog or cat in a secure room away from the front door will also prevent them from darting outside into the night … a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.
Make sure your pet is properly identified (microchip, collar and ID tag) in case s/he escapes through the open door while you’re distracted with trick-or-treaters.
During this Halloween season, help keep your pet safe. If you think your pet has ingested something poisonous seek immediate veterinary care/advice. It’s always easier, less expensive, and safer for your pet to be treated earlier, versus when they are showing severe symptoms. Contact our medical care team at Columbus VetCare at (614) 312-6683 or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 immediately.