Halloween is a widely celebrated holiday, and as such, it is one of the holidays that leads to a significant increase in call volume at Pet Poison Helpline. Halloween can be a scary and hazardous time of year for most pets, since many parts of our celebration are dangerous to them. So here's a helpful list of what to keep out of your pets' reach this Halloween.
- Chocolate – This is one of the top ingestion issues in dogs. Depending on the amount ingested and the type of chocolate, there will be clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, and excitation along with an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and even seizures with significant ingestions. Keep in mind that the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous the ingestion. There's also a worry about risks with pancreatitis with ingestions of this type of food. Signs of pancreatitis may not be evident initially but can include a decrease in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and potential organ damage.
- Candies and gum – The biggest concern with candies is the risk of the ingredient xylitol. Xylitol is showing up in more and more foods everyday. In 2009, Pet Poison Helpline had approximately 300 cases of exposure to xylitol, and in 2015, there were more than 2,800 exposures. Xylitol is highly toxic to pets and can result in a rapid drop blood sugar and the risk of liver damage. Again there is a risk of inflammation of the pancreas or pancreatitis. There's also a concern with large ingestion of hard candies that can clump up in the stomach and cause a risk of an obstruction.
- Wrappers from candy - Toxicity with candy is not the only concern, the wrappers can be an issue. Most animals do not stop to remove the wrappers from these treats before eating them. Wrappers that are foil or cellophane have the potential to result in gastrointestinal irritation and bowel obstruction.
- Raisins –Many people try to provide healthier options for Tick-or-Treaters by handing out a single-serving box of raisins. These are healthy for humans, but can be extremely poisonous to pets. Grapes and raisins can result in renal failure and any ingestion is considered potentially toxic and is a true emergency.
- Glow sticks and glow jewelry – This tends to be an issue for curious dogs and other pets. Pets can bite or chew into glow sticks, leaking their glowing content everywhere and causing mouth pain and irritation. The good news is that these generally are not life-threatening, but the foaming, drooling, and vomiting that can occur is alarming to most pet owners. Offering a tasty snack to dilute the ingestion is a good option, but giving a bath immediately after to prevent further ingestion is also recommended.
- Costumes – Many people want their dogs to join in on the Halloween fun. Owners should proceed with caution, however. Costumes can result in overheating, impaired vision, and even difficulty breathing if it covers the face or is too restrictive around the pet’s neck or chest. Hair dyes that are applied to your pet may be harmful even when labeled non-toxic. Metallic beads or snaps can contain zinc and lead, which can result in serious health concerns and toxicity when ingested. If your dog is going to wear a costume, make sure it's safe. Check out our tips on how to make your dog's costume experience pleasant.
- Candles – These should be used with care around pets. Wagging tails and sniffing noses can land on flames that can result in thermal injury and burns.
- Flashlights and battery-powered candles and decorations - Many decorations contain a variety of batteries. Many people use flameless candles that have a small disc battery to light Jack-O-Lanterns. These can be chewed and the batteries can be ingested resulting in burns and corrosive injury to the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Extra care should be made to keep battery powered decorations out of your pets' reach to prevent a Halloween trip to the emergency clinic.
Enjoy your Halloween and keep your pets safe. If you think that your pet has ingested something poisonous or harmful, it is always easier, less expensive, and safer for your pet to be treated earlier, rather than waiting for severe clinical signs to occur.
Pet Poison Helpline is the most cost-effective animal poison control center in North America. It provides treatment advice and recommendations relating to exposures to potential dangerous plants, products, medications, and substances, to veterinarians, veterinary staff, and pet owners 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through a helpline number 800-213-6680 and an iPhone application. Please be aware there is a $49.00/per case consultation fee. For further information regarding services, click here.
To learn more about the dangers of chocolate, watch the video below.