BluePearl sees a major increase in pets treated for chocolate toxicity in the week following Halloween.
Halloween is one of the country’s favorite holidays, but it is typically one of the most dangerous holidays for pets. In fact, each year, BluePearl Pet Hospital, which has more than 100 practices nationwide, sees an approximate 250 percent increase in pets treated for chocolate toxicity in the week following Halloween.
Halloween, like all holidays, is a change in household routine that gives our curious or anxious pets opportunities to find trouble,” explained Kevin Kelley, DVM, emergency service head at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Clearwater, Fla. “Whether with dietary indiscretion, flare up of anxiety related problems, or access to new decorations, plan for your pet’s safety by keeping them safely away from anything harmful and checking on them regularly to make sure they are not having problems with the changes.”
In addition to BluePearl veterinarians seeing pets for toxic food ingestion, like chocolate, they also treat pets for injuries associated with decorations or becoming lost.
To help pet owners prepare and to ensure pets are kept safe, BluePearl is highlighting the most common Halloween dangers for pets.
- Treats and chocolate. The biggest risk for pets this time of year is candy ingestion. And dogs and cats are great at mopping up candy on the floor, finding the candy basket, and getting up on counters to get their fix. Chocolate, specifically dark, is highly toxic to pets, but raisins and xylitol, a sugar substitute found commonly in sugar-free gums and mints, are also dangerous and should be avoided. Even one piece of sugar-free gum can be toxic for a small pet. Make sure all candy and sweets are placed away in a closet, drawer or pantry.
- Wires and electrical props. Halloween props and electrical devices can pose a threat to pets if they bite or chew on the wires or ingest the materials. Chewing at the wires can cause burns on the tongue, gums and even lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs. While electrocution injuries are not common, they can be life-threatening. Young animals in particular tend to be very curious and should be monitored closely if there are electrical devices that are accessible to them. If possible, completely cover or hide wires and outlets from all pets.
- Candles. Not only are cats and dogs curious but brushing up against an open flame can cause their fur to catch on fire, and even lead to a house fire. Take precautions and opt for battery-operated candles this holiday.
- Candy wrappers and bags. Candy and treat wrappers can also be dangerous to pets, as they can cause choking or gastrointestinal obstruction. Plastic bags and candy bags can also cause pets to suffocate if they get their heads stuck inside. Dogs, rummaging through bags, can easily get their heads stuck in plastic bags, causing them to suffocate within minutes. Once their head gets stuck, they panic and hyperventilate, which will cause the bag to form a seal around the face, depleting them of oxygen and potentially leading to death. Be sure to immediately dispose of candy wrappers and bags.
- Trick-or-treaters. Dogs and cats can get spooked by the doorbell and trick-or-treaters, particularly if they are in costume. It is important to minimize stress for your pets. This can be done by isolating them in a quiet area of the house, with calming music and their favorite toys. In some more severe cases, animals may require other forms of anxiety relief, including medications and supplements. These should always be discussed with your veterinarian. During peak trick-or-treating hours, pets can also easily escape through the front door and become lost. Keep a close eye on pets during this time and think about securing them in a room or crate.
By being aware of potential risks and keeping a close eye on your pet’s behavior, Halloween can be enjoyed by the entire family. For questions regarding how to prepare your pet for the holidays, contact your veterinarian to make a plan.
Most BluePearl hospitals are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide advanced emergency care to pets. Find your nearest BluePearl Pet Hospital to learn about their unique services.