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Halloween Safety for Pets


America’s favorite haunted holiday is about to occur! That means ghouls and ghosts wandering about and stopping by to show off their costumes. But with all the distractions and fun that goes with Halloween, pet parents need to be careful that their pets don’t get their paws in the candy bowl.

Chocolate is very dangerous to pets. Dogs especially are attracted to the smell and taste of chocolate. Methylxanthine, the main chemical in chocolate, is also similar to caffeine and can make pets sick in a short amount of time. With different kinds of chocolate, the general rule is that the darker it is, the more poisonous, so white chocolate rarely causes poisoning and has low levels of methylxanthine. Also, smaller pets are at a bigger risk of chocolate toxicity than other large breed dogs, because it takes more chocolate to affect a larger pet than a smaller one. Only 3 ounces of milk chocolate in a 20 pound dog’s stomach can cause side effects, whereas with an 80 pound dogs it would take 11 ounces!

Besides chocolate, other Halloween candies contain the artificial sweetener xylitol. All it takes is a small amount of xylitol and sudden drops in blood sugar as well as loss of coordination and seizures can happen. So, to keep from taking a pet to the emergency vet, keep goodies out of reach of curious pets. Humans have a hard enough time of eating only one piece of candy, so imagine what it would be like to have a whole bowl readily available with no one watching. Pets who have possibly eaten chocolate can show symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures.

And don’t forget that when a pet gets into candy, they could have also ingested the wrappers. If that happens, wrappers can cause bowel obstructions, which if severe, can require surgery and can even be life-threatening. Symptoms can include the same as if a pet ate chocolate, but pet parents should also watch for decreased appetite and having problems defecating. People who want to go a healthier route and hand out an alternative to candy such as grapes or raisins need to beware. Even a very small amount of grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure in pets.

So while Halloween night is a chance for everyone to enjoy the spirit of the holiday, pet parents need to keep in mind the safety of their pets so that they don’t get scared later that night with a hefty vet bill.

Some additional Halloween tips: If you’re hosting a Halloween party, keep your pet in a separate room, away from all the hustle and bustle. Too many strangers in odd costumes or the constant ringing of the doorbell may cause your pet stress. This will also prevent your pet from sneaking out through an open door and darting out into the night.

Pet Poison Helpline

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