Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Pet Tip: Halloween Chocolate and Treats

Halloween kicks off the Holiday season and is a nationally beloved holiday full of costumes, decorations and best of all treats! Candy, and that means chocolate, is everywhere in the month of October so it is especially important to remember the chocolate is toxic to our cats and dogs. The number of phone calls received regarding dogs ingesting chocolate the week of Halloween increased by 209% over a normal week, according to the Pet Poison Helpline

This means we have to be hyper aware and vigilant of where we leave our candy stashes. Keep chocolate up high and out of your pet’s reach or safely locked away. Don’t forget to keep the trash can secure as well. Have a discussion with your children about the serious consequences of a pet getting into chocolate and to be thoughtful about where they leave their candy. Designate a safe, pet free place for candy/chocolate storage in your home.

Chocolate ingestion results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, inflammation of the pancreas, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and if left untreated it can possibly lead to death. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, call us immediately for advice at (925) 866-8387. You can also call Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.

The severity of the toxicity depends on the type and amount of chocolate ingested. The size of your pet matters as well. Baker’s chocolate is the most deadly with white chocolate being the least dangerous. But white chocolate still contains a lot of fat and sugar which can still be bad for your pet. Sugary, fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, which can result in hospitalization. Signs of pancreatitis include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and potentially kidney failure. 

Raisins are another food that sometimes shows up in Halloween treats and candies. Raisins are toxic for dogs as well, and cause kidney damage and failure. Xylitol is found in many sugar free products and is in many gums. This is also a highly toxic chemical for pets. Call the veterinarian immediately if you believe your pet has ingested either one of these. Candy wrappers and foils can be swallowed by a hungry pet munching though a candy stash. These can lead to an intestinal obstruction. Watch for signs of vomiting, decreased appetite and lack of a bowel movement. It is not just chocolate that is dangerous so it is best to keep all human treats and sweets out of harm’s way.

Halloween is a celebratory time, full of fun activities and delicious treats. Help keep your holiday fun by taking some precautionary steps and be vigilant about your pet’s safety.

-Erin Selby

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