Many dogs are attracted to the smell and taste of chocolate, making it a significant threat. The type of chocolate and the amount your dog ingests determines the effect it will have on your dog. Pets that ingest a few M&Ms or 1-2 bites of a chocolate chip cookie are unlikely to develop chocolate poisoning.
* For milk chocolate, any ingestion of more than 0.5 ounces per pound of body weight may put dogs at risk for chocolate poisoning.
* Ingestions of more than 0.13 ounces per pound of dark or semi-sweet chocolate may cause poisoning.
* Almost all ingestions of baker’s chocolate can result in poisoning and are considered emergencies.
* Very young, geriatric and animals with underlying disease must be treated more conservatively as they are more at risk for poisoning than healthy adult animals.
* Due to the large amount of fat in chocolate, some pets may develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) after eating chocolate or baked goods containing chocolate.
If you think your dog may have ingested chocolate, call your veterinarian right away for medical assistance. Ingestions of small amounts of chocolate may cause mild vomiting and diarrhea. Larger ingestions can cause severe agitation, elevated heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures and collapse.
Other Halloween food-related hazards for pets are candy wrappers, raisins and general candy overindulgence.
* Candy wrappers – When pets eat candy, sometimes they eat the wrappers too. Ingestion of foil and cellophane wrappers can cause a life-threatening bowel obstruction, which can require surgical intervention. Watch for vomiting, decreased appetite, not defecating, straining to defecate, or lethargy. X-rays may be necessary to diagnose this problem.
* Raisins – Instead of candy, some health-minded households distribute mini-boxes of raisins. Very small amounts of raisins are poisonous to dogs (as well as grapes or currants) and can cause kidney failure. Any ingestion of raisins or grapes should be treated as potentially toxic and you should call your veterinarian. As the poison in raisins is more concentrated as compared to grapes, only a small amount of raisins can result in signs of vomiting, nausea, decreased appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain, and severe kidney failure. Raisins should be stored in secure containers far from their reach.
* Candy overindulgence – Pets are can easily gorge themselves. Large ingestions of sugary, high-fat candy can lead to pancreatitis. Potentially fatal, pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and very painful. It may not show up for one to four days after the pet ingests the candy. Signs include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and potentially, kidney failure or organ damage.
* Halloween glow sticks, glow jewelry and costumes can also be dangerous. Cats can puncture and chew on glow sticks and glow jewelry. While not usually life-threatening, they can cause mouth pain and irritation, as well as profuse drooling and foaming at the mouth. If you dress your dog or cat in a costume, be sure it doesn’t impair his vision, movement or air intake. If the costume has metallic beads, snaps or other small pieces, be aware that some metals (especially zinc and lead) can result in serious poisoning if ingested.
This Halloween season, help keep your dogs and cats safe and keep chocolate and other holiday fare out of their reach. Have a discussion with your children and make sure they understand that “Rover” cannot help empty the candy bag!