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.
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 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.If you will have lots of trick-or-treaters knocking on your door, consider putting your pets in another area of the home to minimize the stress impact to them. This will also reduce the chances of your pet slipping out an open door. You should have complete control of your dog at all times in case they want to “protect” you from the ghosts and goblins passing through. If you have pets inside fenced areas, this would be an ideal time to lock the gates to keep guests out and your pets safely inside. Check pet collars for proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and gets lost, identification tags and/or micro-chip information is key to getting them back home quickly. This Halloween season, keep your pets 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!