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Pets and Halloween: Tricks or treats?

Halloween is a great time of year for most of us. It can also be a great time for our pets. Halloween can be a tricky time for some pets. Candy and other treats are fun for us but potentially toxic for our pets. Noises and strangers can be very stressful for some pets. Costumes and decorations are cute but also a potential choking hazard.

Hazardous candy treat for dogs and cats include:

Chocolate. Chocolates are the one of the most poisonous treats pets can eat. The darker the chocolate, the worse the danger for dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine which dogs have a difficult time metabolizing. Theobromine can cause excitement or hyperactivity in moderate amounts and muscle tremors, seizures, elevated heartrate and internal bleeding with large amounts. Different types of chocolate contain differing amounts of theobromine and small amounts of dark chocolate can be potentially life-threatening.

Raisins. Raisins are extremely toxic to dogs and can cause problems in cats and sometimes ferrets. Raisins and grapes causes acute renal failure in dogs and potentially in other pets. The toxic effects are not dose dependent, very small amounts can cause these problems.

Xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a sugar free sweetener in many products. It is most commonly used in sugar free gum but may be used as a sweetener in candies and recently in sugar free peanut butter. Xylitol is safe for use in people but causes severe and even life threatening problems for dogs. Xylitol causes a rapid drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and can also cause severe liver damage.

Sugary candy. Candies that are high in sugar or fat can have a significant effect on pets. Most commonly these candies cause GI upset - vomiting or diarrhea but large quantities can lead to dangerous spikes in blood sugar or pancreatitis.

Candy wrappers. Candy treats can cause problems for our pets but so can the wrappers they come in. Dogs don't take the time to unwrap that chocolate treat - they tend to eat the whole thing or in some cases the whole bowl. Foil wrappers are not digestible and can lead to GI upset as they pass through the system or sometimes cause an obstruction if they can't pass. GI obstruction most commonly requires surgery to fix the obstruction.

Lights. Lights are another potential problem for pets. Batteries from flashlights can be swallowed or chewed on and the acids can cause chemical burns or severe GI irritation. Battieries also have a potential to cause obstructions. Glow sticks can be punctured and cause nausea, irritation or burns.

Halloween night can also be stressful for many pets. Dogs and cats are generally social animals but some pets suffer from anxiety and loud noises, ringing doorbells, and yelling can be triggers for some pets. Make sure your dog or cat has an area they can go to that is quiet in case it gets to be too much for them.

Halloween is a great holiday for kids but has a potential to be a scary holiday for our pets. Please keep your pet safe this season.

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