Pets: Chocolate is just one of many dangers to pets during Halloween
While many pet owners know that chocolate is toxic to pets, some may not realize that there is a “chocolate season” which starts around Halloween and runs through Easter. When you think about it, this time frame includes Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Valentine’s Day, all celebrations that are known for food indulgences, especially sweets.
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, calls to the animal poison control center regarding dogs that ingested chocolate increased by 209 percent last year during the week of Halloween. In a press release issued last month, they wrote:
Of all candy, chocolate is most poisonous to dogs. Many dogs are inherently attracted to the smell and taste of chocolate, making it a significant threat. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. The chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous — methylxanthines — are similar to caffeine and more heavily concentrated in the darker varieties. In fact, just 2-3 ounces of Baker’s chocolate can make a 50-pound dog very sick. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is less dangerous. It can take up to a pound of milk chocolate to cause poisoning in that same 50-pound dog. White chocolate rarely causes true chocolate poisoning because it contains very low amounts of methylxanthines; however the high fat content may result in pancreatitis.
Candy wrappers, Halloween glow sticks, glow jewelry and costumes can also be dangerous.
Every year, Pet Poison Helpline receives numerous calls concerning cats that have punctured and chewed on glow sticks and glow jewelry. While not usually life-threatening, they can cause mouth pain and irritation, as well as profuse drooling and foaming at the mouth.
If you dress your dog or cat in a costume, be sure it doesn’t impair his vision, movement or air intake. If the costume has metallic beads, snaps or other small pieces, be aware that some metals (especially zinc and lead) can result in serious poisoning if ingested.
This Halloween season — and throughout the entire “chocolate season” — help keep your dogs and cats safe and keep chocolate and other holiday fare out of their reach. If you think your pet has ingested something poisonous, it is always better (and less expensive) to contact your veterinarian to get help immediately.
Pet Poison Helpline recently produced a helpful video with information about chocolate and other food poisoning titled “Kitchen Dangers”:
David Caddell is the hospital director at the Ann Arbor Animal Hospital, a locally owned and operated Companion Animal Hospital. David can be reached at 734-662-4474 or dcaddell@AnnArborAnimalHospital.com.