Halloween! A time of spooky spectacles, ghoulish goodies, and frightful fun!
The thrill of dressing up and trick-or-treating is what we look forward to most. But for our dogs and cats, this festive holiday can pose a variety of dangers, particularly related to poison and toxin ingestion. Here's what everyone should know about Halloween hazards for pets.
Candies and Chocolate
Halloween treats for us can morph into monstrous mishaps for our pets. Chocolate, especially dark or baking chocolate, is toxic for dogs and cats. Chocolate can make pets sick and even be fatal in some occurrences. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, thirst, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures (Pet Poison Helpline, n.d.).
The caffeine in chocolate can also be harmful for pets, causing similar symptoms. Even small amounts can cause severe reactions, making any kind of chocolate off-limits for our furry friends.
Xylitol, a common sugar substitute found in sugar-free candies and gum, can be deadly for dogs. Eating xylitol can quickly lower a dog's blood sugar. This can cause confusion and seizures in just a few minutes.
In severe cases, xylitol ingestion can cause liver failure. It is uncertain if xylitol affects cats in the same way. Regardless, it's safer to be cautious and keep these sweets away from them.
Raisins and Grapes
Despite nature’s attempt to provide us with natural candy that’s much lower in sugar, they are equally toxic to dogs.
Some houses may forgo the King sized chocolate bars and give out healthier treats such as raisins or fruit instead. Tartaric acid is the ingredient in raisins and grapes that was recently found to be toxic. Even small quantities can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. Cats seem to be less affected, but we should still keep these away from any of our four-legged friends.
Costumes and Glow Sticks
While these are not treats, these Halloween hazards can still play tricks on our pets. Glow sticks hold a luminescent liquid inside that’s not terribly toxic to dogs, but tastes terrible and can cause them to drool and act funny (Pet Poison Helpline, n.d.). Small costume parts (especially from children’s costumes) can be swallowed, posing a choking hazard or the risk of intestinal blockage to your pet.
Alcohol and Marijuana
With Halloween often being an occasion for adult parties, another Halloween pet safety tip to look out for is the consumption of alcoholic beverages and edible marijuana products. Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, central nervous system depression, and even death in pets. Similarly, marijuana can cause severe depression, lack of coordination, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, and in some cases, seizures and coma in pets.
Some popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered relatively non-toxic to dogs and cats, but they can produce gastrointestinal upset if ingested, particularly in large amounts. Moreover, a pet's desire to chew on these items could lead to a potentially fatal intestinal blockage.
Knowledge about these Halloween hazards for pets is the first step to prevention. It's important to keep all these potential toxins well out of your pet's reach and to educate children about the dangers of feeding Halloween treats to pets.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, we recommend administering an antidote such as Dr. Cuddles ReadyRESCUE™ to start binding toxic substances immediately, and seek immediate veterinary attention. Keep your vet's number handy, along with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center number (888-426-4435), which operates 24/7. You can also consult with the Pet Poison Helpline, another resource available 24/7, at (855) 764-7661.
While Halloween is a fun and exciting time for us, it can be dangerous for our furry friends. Awareness and caution are the best ways to ensure Halloween hazards for pets stay far away. By being vigilant about what our pets can access, we can help ensure that Halloween is a fun time for the whole family, pets included.
Pet Poison Helpline. (n.d.). *Seasons: Halloween*. [Link](https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/seasons/halloween/)
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). (n.d.). *Pet Care: Animal Poison Control*. [Link](https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control)
PetMD. (n.d.). *Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs*. [Link](https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/toxicity/c_dg_xylitol_toxicity)
VCA Hospitals. (n.d.). *Grape, Raisin, and Currant Poisoning in Dogs*. [Link](https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/grape-raisin-and-currant-poisoning-in-dogs)