Tis the season for indulging ourselves with lots and lots of candy. It’s important to keep our four-legged family members safe and healthy during this time. Here are some Halloween tips pet owners.
Halloween decorations can be dangerous for our fur babies if they are ingested. Make sure your decorations are out of reach of your pets and that all electrical cords are pet proofed.
Trick or Treating
If you have kids coming to your door for Halloween, it is best to keep your pet confined in another room to prevent him from bolting out the door when you are handing out candy. All of the excitement and strange costumes can agitate or make your pet anxious and could lead to aggressive behavior towards some. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with an identification tag just in case your pet does make it out the door. If you take your pet trick or treating with you and the kids, make sure the leash or harness is secure and that the pet cannot slip out. Be cautious in allowing other people and children to approach your dog. Again, the excitement and strange costumes could frighten your pet and cause anxious or aggressive behavior.
If you dress your pet up in a Halloween costume, make sure it fits properly to avoid chaffing, pressure sores, decreased circulation, and other problems that could occur due to an ill-fitting costume. Check arm and neck holes to ensure the costume is not too tight and doesn’t restrict natural movement. Avoid costumes that are too large or could easily your pet to trip and fall. Choose a costume that allows your pet to freely urinate and poop. If you pet does not appear comfortable or happy with its costume, do not force him to wear it.
Keep Candy Away From Your Pets
Pets have taste buds for sweet just like we do, so candies and chocolates can be quite tasty to them. Unfortunately, many sweets can be toxic because they contain chocolate, caffeine, and the artificial sweetener Xylitol.
Chocolate is a favorite all year around, but particularly during the holidays. Chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine. The chemical effects of theobromine are similar to caffeine, but animals cannot metabolize these substances as efficiently as people, so their effects can be very pronounced and more serious. Animals are also more effected by these toxins due to their smaller size.
The amount of theobromine found in chocolate varies with the type of chocolate. Baker’s chocolate and gourmet chocolates tend to have higher concentrations of toxin than milk chocolates, and white chocolates barely have any. However, the fats and sugars found in white chocolate can still lead to gastrointestinal issues and pancreatitis. Typically, for a 50 lb dog, 1 ounce of baker’s chocolate can be toxic vs 9 ounces of milk chocolate.
Low doses (20mg/kg) of caffeine and theobromine can cause irritability, anxiousness, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water intake, increased urination, and panting. Larger doses (40mg/kg) of these toxins can cause high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and heart arrhythmias. Even larger doses (60mg/kg) can cause heart failure and neurological signs such as tremors, twitching, and seizures. Fatal doses occur around 200mg/kg. The symptoms of chocolate toxicity may take several hours to manifest and can last for several days due to the long half-life of theobromine.
Many sweets contain different types of artificial sweeteners. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in sugarless gums and candies. It is very toxic to animals and can result in severe low blood sugar and liver failure if ingested. Symptoms typically occur within 30 minutes of ingestion and include lethargy, vomiting, weakness, difficulty walking, tremors, seizures, and coma. If not treated, Xylitol toxicity can be fatal.
Candies containing natural sugars are not toxic to pets, but large amounts could cause vomiting, diarrhea, and possible pancreatitis.
The ingestion of wrappers can also cause problems. A few small wrappers would likely pass through the digestive tract with no issue, but larger or more numerous wrappers could cause irritation to the digestive tract and even obstruction particularly in smaller dogs.