Halloween Pet Hazards

October 4, 2019

Halloween is a holiday filled with sweets, scares and little ghouls and goblins. It is a holiday that can fill your pet with anxiety and hidden dangers lurk everywhere. The overflowing trick or treat bags as well as the decorations in our homes are tempting to anxious and curious pets. Here is a list of some items that are recommended to keep your pets away from to keep them healthy during Halloween

Sugarless candies
An ingredient in sugarless candies and sugar-free gum is the sweetener Xylitol. This sweetener can cause both liver damage and low blood sugar. If your pet ingests large amounts of either gum or these candies containing Xylitol poisoning can occur. Xylitol is also found in baked goods and mints as well. Some of the signs your pet may exhibit include weakness, vomiting, collapse, a fast heart rate and generally not feeling well. Higher doses can damage the liver leading to liver failure which causes yellowing of the skin (jaundice), not wanting to eat and black stool.

When it comes to chocolate the darker the chocolate the more toxic it is to pets. Bakers chocolate and dark chocolate contain more of the ingredient methylxanthine (caffeine, theobromine) which can cause some serious side effects. Keep candy and trick or treat bags away from your pets that are especially food motivated or tend to gorge themselves when they break into human food. The risk is dose-dependent so ingestion of a dark chocolate bar will cause more serious effects in a Toy Poodle than a Great Dane for example. Cats are not as likely to develop poisoning as dogs since they do not have such a strong tendency to overeat or gorge themselves. Ingestion of large amounts can cause symptoms such as seizures and other neurologic signs. Of additional concern is the potential for the heart to develop an abnormal rhythm (cardiac arrhythmia), and an increase in blood pressure with an elevated heart rate. Mild ingestion typically leads to stomach upset with vomiting diarrhea and panting.

Those little boxes of raisins handed out on Halloween, both plain and chocolate covered as well as some currants, pose a risk to your pets. Ingestion of grapes and raisins can cause serious kidney damage. The signs that this has occurred may not show up for days. Some of these symptoms may be subtle such as refusing to eat or having bad breath not related to poor oral health. As the pup becomes more sick vomiting, increased/decreased thirst and urination as well as just generally not feeling well and lying around more than normal may all appear. These are clear signs that a vet visit is in order.

Liquid Potpourri
From cinnamon to pumpkin spice the smells of fall are just around the corner. We use candles and potpourri in various forms. Simmer potpourri, when ingested can cause severe corrosive burns in the mouth and throat. Cats will be hesitant to eat, will drool, will be ataxic (wobbly) and can even have difficulty breathing. Depending upon the amount ingested, severe respiratory distress and liver and failure can occur. The higher the concentration of the oil the greater the risk to your cat.

Glow Sticks, Glow jewelry
What better way to keep track of our little ghouls and goblins and even our pets out for trick or treating. Glow sticks also can double as very nice chew toys and interestingly enough kitties, seem to love these. While the contents are not toxic The magical glowing contents, however, is incredibly bitter and this can cause stress for cats. They will drool profusely, vocalize in distress, may throw up and even go off their food. Flip off the lights to see if this is a possibility in your kitty showing these signs and the guilty kitty will glow in the dark. If any gets on the fur then wash it off well as cats are groomers and the symptoms will persist as long as it is on the coat. If they only have ingested it, chicken broth will dilute the taste.

Keep a close eye on your pets during the upcoming holiday season to protect them from injury. Don’t forget their emotional health as well. Strange costumes coming to your front door for hours on end with doorbell ringing can also serve as a source of significant stress for your pets. If your pup barks wildly every time the doorbell rings, this may not be protected, it may be anxiety. Remove them from this stimulus, and provide a quiet safe space or room for them to escape. This will foster a more enjoyable Halloween for all.