Each Halloween, dogs and cats, as well as other household pets, are exposed to heaps of sweet treats, changes in household décor, and altered routines that can be stressful. In fact, the four most common food-related Halloween hazards for pets are chocolate, overconsumption of candy, raisins and candy wrappers.
Veterinarians at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital have treated dozens of pets who have ingested toxic treats or inedible objects during the week of Halloween. So, to help keep your furry friends safe this season, Kevin Kelley, DVM, Senior Emergency Clinician at BluePearl in Clearwater, Fla., is offering a few useful tips.
The most common Halloween emergency we see is dogs who have consumed chocolate and other sweets. Dark or baking chocolate and candy containing the sugar substitute xylitol can be especially dangerous,” explained Dr. Kelley. “Dogs react quickly to xylitol. In less than 30 minutes, blood sugar levels can drop and they’ll begin to show symptoms of hypoglycemia. They may become lethargic, weak or confused, and seizure.”
If your pet ingests candy or sweets containing any of these toxic ingredients, Dr. Kelley recommends contacting a poison control hotline immediately. Two good options, which do have a small cost associated with them, are the Pet Poison Helpline at 1 (844) 492-9842 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 1 (888) 426-4435.
Veterinarians on these hotlines can let you know what risk the pet is at for injury, what treatment is needed, if any, and may save you a trip in, if treatment is unnecessary,” said Dr. Kelley. “Calling into one of these hotlines could even save your pet’s life by encouraging you to seek immediate veterinary care for detoxification and treatment.”
Chocolate can cause excitation, vomiting, and diarrhea at moderate doses, and seizures, cardiac arrhythmias and death at higher doses,” explained Dr. Kelley. “The type of chocolate will determine how much of the toxic components are present and level of risk to the pet.”
It is important to remember that while Halloween is an exciting time for people and pets alike, pets are relying on owners to keep them safe from the dangers that this holiday brings. Dr. Kelley urges pet owners not to wait to seek help if there is chance that a pet has consumed something toxic.
Don’t wait to seek help. With most toxins, the longer you wait to start treatment, the greater the risk to the pet,” explained Dr. Kelley. “So, time is very important to successful management, and waiting until symptoms occur often means a worse prognosis or longer and more expensive course of treatment.”