Halloween is nearly here, and some of us couldn’t be more excited (ahem!). The pumpkin carving, spooky decorations, and pet costume contests are things we look forward to all year.
However, there is one hazard of Halloween that we need to be mindful of with our pets. And that is the problem of Halloween candy. Although tricks and treats are fun for us, the sweet treats that accompany the holiday are a potential problem for our pets and can even cause a veterinary emergency.
Candy No No’s
Candy is a potential hazard for our pet’s health in more ways than one. To begin with, make sure you’re keeping candy bowls, jars, and your trick or treating loot out of their reach. Many pets (especially dogs) will gorge themselves given the opportunity, and this can spell trouble in the form of GI upset or even a GI obstruction.
Due to dogs being naturally less discriminating with what they eat than cats, they are the more likely culprit when it comes to raiding the halloween candy stash. Cats, as finicky eaters, may leave candy alone, but that’s no reason to leave it within their reach. Make sure all candy is safely stored away.
Halloween Candy and Pets
Here are some specific candy hazards to watch out for before, during, and after Fright Night.
Chocolate – chocolate contains a specific compound, called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and other animals. Ingested in large enough amounts, this compound can cause hyperactivity, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding, tremors, seizures, heart attack, and even death in dogs. Darker chocolate contains theobromine in larger concentration than milk chocolate, but a small dog who ingests enough milk chocolate is still at risk.
Sugar free candy and gum – sugar free candy and gum commonly contains an artificial sweetener called xylitol. Even small amounts when ingested can cause abnormal insulin release, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in dogs as well as seizures, liver failure ,and death. Watch for these treats carefully and keep them far away from both dogs and cats.
Milk-based candy – caramels, ice cream, and other milk based treats can cause stomach upset in pets. Pets don’t digest lactose well, and it can cause diarrhea and other digestive upset.
Raisins – your kids may not like the small boxes of raisins they sometimes receive, but your pets may take a different tack. Raisins (and grapes) are toxic to dogs, and can result in kidney failure.
Candy wrappers – you may not think of candy wrappers as a safety hazard for your pets, but the smell of sweets can attract them to eat the wrappers you discard. Eaten in enough quantity, these can cause GI upset and even a blockage, which may result in emergency surgery to remove them.
Halloween Candy Safety
If you think your pet has gotten into the Halloween candy, don’t wait to see a veterinarian. Some of these toxins act fast, and so should you.
In addition to Halloween candy safety and pets, watch out for other common holiday foods that your pet may ingest. Alcohol, nuts, garlic and onions, and yeasted dough can all cause significant problems in pets that warrant an emergency room visit. Watch the trash can, too, so that there’s no garbage ingestion and resulting pancreatitis.
We wish you and your pets a happy and safe Halloween! If you have any specific questions about halloween candy and pets, please don’t hesitate to call us.