Halloween can be a fun time for children-and adults who like dressing up (I always think back to the “Thriller” video … I loved the Vincent Price rap!). Unfortunately, the frequent visitors in ghoulish costumes and the large amount of candy lying around our homes do present hazards for our animal companions.
Of all the calls to poison control centers related to food ingestion by dogs and cats, more than half are related to some form of chocolate. A recent poll of veterinarians asked the question “What are the most common toxin exposures in dogs in your practice?” Chocolate ingestion ranked second.
All chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which can be toxic. The danger to a dog depends on the amount ingested and the type. Unsweetened baking chocolate is the most toxic, and white chocolate is the least dangerous. Signs of illness related to chocolate ingestion can include anxiety, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeats, tremors, and seizures.
Dogs seldom get into trouble by eating a single piece of candy. Instead, the problems arise when the guardian calls and proclaims, “My dog ate an entire chocolate cake” or “I left an entire bag of chocolate chips on the floor, and now they’re all gone!”
There is no antidote for illness from chocolate toxicity. Most dogs feel anxious and restless. Guardians frequently report, “She just won’t calm down.” Though most dogs make full recoveries, hospital stays and supportive care cause them unnecessary fear and stress, can be costly, and make for an unexpected Halloween “surprise.” As usual, prevention is the best solution.
The following are some simple steps to make sure that this Halloween is a safe one for your dogs and cats:
Also check out PETA’s “Halloween Safety Tips for Animals.”
Create a wonderful, cruelty-free home and garden.