Halloween Safety for Your Pets!

Halloween is a scary time. Do you know what pet dangers are lurking around? See what veterinarians wished you knew about Halloween safety for your pets!

Ah, fall is upon us and Halloween will be here before we know it! It’s also the time of year I get to buy new cat décor for my house! If you don’t know this about me already, I am a cat lady, and I love a good black cat rug, statue, fridge magnet, you name it.

I enjoy a good pet costume around this time of year too, and it got me thinking about what sort of things pet owners should know about to keep their fur babies happy, healthy and safe during this Halloween season, so I’ve put together some tidbits of advice for ya’ll!

CANDY

Let’s jump right in and start with candy first. Yep, you guessed it! Its best to keep these tasty treats away from our fur babies, and for good reason! I want to just say up front as a disclaimer that not all animals are created equally, and the severity of toxicities will depend on the current health status of your pet, the item ingested and the amount consumed. Because of this, you may see different, mild or even the most serious of side effects.

Chocolate

Chocolate is probably one of the most common ingestions for pets all year long, but the number of cases I see goes up starting around Halloween and continues through the New Year. Those fun-sized candy bars are easy to steal and are down the hatch before anyone even realized Fluffy or Fido walked by.

Cats don’t generally eat chocolate because of their picky nature but don’t just assume your cat won’t, and remain vigilant.

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate usually only cause mild side effects, and are generally less concerning. You likely will see what I would consider mild gastrointestinal (GI) upset, meaning your pet will have an episode or two of vomiting and/or diarrhea. The ASPCA Poison Control Center has a handy app for your phone, complete with a calculator to help you decide if your pet ate a toxic dose. Definitely check it out!!

Dark Chocolate

The darker, more bitter chocolate and baker’s chocolate are going to be more toxic to pets, and any ingestion should be taken seriously. As with milk chocolates, GI upset will be seen, but some of the more concerning symptoms include hyperactivity, rapid breathing, a very high heart rate, tremors, and even seizures. If your pet has consumed any dark or baker’s chocolate, get them to your vet right away.

Raisins

Raisins (and grapes) are a more healthy option for trick or treaters, and I have seen miniature boxes of raisins in my niece’s candy bucket. Sadly they are incredibly toxic to dogs, potentially cats too, causing some major kidney damage.

Raisin and Grape Toxicity Level

The scariest part of this particular toxin… every animal’s toxic dose is different, and we have no way of calculating it. For example, a Chihuahua could eat 12 grapes and be fine, but a Great Dane eats one, and now is in the ICU with kidney failure.

It’s unfortunate, I know, and that is why we are just going to keep raisins and grapes away from our pets.

Some other symptoms you may notice if your pet has consumed grapes include inappetence, nausea (excessive drooling and continued licking of their mouth), lethargy and abdominal pain.

If you suspect your pet consumed even just one grape, please get them to the vet immediately! Beware of chocolate-covered raisins too!!

Sugar-Free Candy and Xylitol

Sugar-free candies always seem to show up in the mix of Halloween treats too. Unfortunately, these treats contain xylitol, and it can be very dangerous for our pets.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in sugar-free gums, sugar-free peanut butter, and even human toothpaste, causing significant drops in blood sugar/blood glucose, and in even more severe cases can cause liver damage.

Some things you may notice if your pet has consumed xylitol will most likely be related to low blood glucose and will include lethargy, unconsciousness or even seizures.

If you suspect your pet has consumed any amount of xylitol, please get them to the vet right away!

DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE CANDY WRAPPERS!

Remember, even if your pet has not eaten any toxic candies, they can still eat candy wrappers, which can cause GI upset, or even become stuck in their intestinal tract, causing a foreign body. Talk about a trick!

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GLOW STICKS

Glow sticks probably are not something on your radar, but your sweet kitty Fluffy definitely spotted that glowy “treat” and is ready to pounce! While the substance used in glow sticks is not particularly toxic, Fluffy might give you a fright when he/she bites into it!

Excessive drooling and gagging/retching are what you’ll most likely, but don’t forget that can cause some irritation to their mouth, eyes, and skin.

PET COSTUMES

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I already told you that I enjoy a good pet costume, but I just want to remind everyone to make sure that your pet is okay with wearing a costume. We don’t want to cause any unnecessary stress and anxiety just to make them look like a hot dog.

Some other reminders; make sure the costume fits appropriately and is not restricting their movement.

Take into consideration that your pet may get a bit warm while wearing their costumes and walking outside. This is particularly true where I live in South Florida. We have one season: HOT.

Ensure they can still drink water, pant, bark/meow too. Imagine how scary it would be if you couldn’t do any of those normal things!

HALLOWEEN DECORATION DANGERS

Porch décor was always on point where I lived growing up and is prime real estate for Fluffy and Fido to find some things to get in trouble.

Candle Flames

Candles add a nice element of “spooky” to Halloween displays, so let’s make sure we keep our snouts, paws, ears and fur out of reach from those flames!

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Pumpkins and Indian Corn

Pumpkins and corn are relatively non-toxic but can cause GI upset if they happen to find themselves getting gnawed on.

STRANGER DANGER

Lots of strangers coming to the door or passing on the street can be scary and stressful.

Anxiety

With all those cute goblins and ghosts knocking on your front door and ring the bell, Fido or Fluffy might really be having a hard time keeping their anxiety in check.

If your fur kids are prone to having anxiety, consider keeping them in a quiet, safe space to keep them happy.

Double-check those collars too, and make sure they are nice and secure with identification tags that have your current contact information should they get spooked while out trick or treating, or if they sneak past you at the door when handing out tasty treats.

Speak with your veterinarian if you think they need sedatives

Have a happy and safe Halloween!!!