Pet Halloween Hazards – Chocolate + Zylitol – Things that go BUMP in the Night
I cannot tell how hard it is for Emergency Clinics to get people to work on Halloween. Why? Because its a sucky shift. Not because we are missing out on the fun times, sweets or costume parties. But because there is SO MUCH VOMIT. SO MUCH. So, we pull out our handy dandy wheel of chocolate toxicity and tell people to come in.
over and over and over…
” Halloween is one of the highest profit nights for a vet clinic for a few reasons: Chocolate, Candy with Xylitol and Pets getting hurt by escaping.”
..and you know what lines I would always hear out of the clients mouth as the Vet Nurse of 13 years?
- ” He’s never tried to eat the candy before “
- ” She would never do this/never has done this/why did she run out ?!’
- ” I thought it was high enough away from him to not get it!”
- ” It was only one piece”
- ” But she loves saying hi to all the kiddos, but then one kiddo pulled on her ear and…”
We know YOU KNOW:
- chocolate is bad for your pets
- raisins are not just ugly but dangerous
- or keep them away from that one fake sugar thing that you can never pronounce – XYLITOL ( said ZY-La-TALL).
But we may also have heard pets doing just fine after eating those things.
( ” OH MY FLUFFY ATE A WHOLE CHOCOLATE CAKE BEFORE AND HE WAS FINE” )
So how SPOOKY and SCARY is it actually when you pet might consume them? And, WHAT can actually happen if they do?
Chocolate is typically the reason behind most calls to Veterinary Staff during this time of year- so if your pets get into that delicious stash your kiddos worked hard for, or Publix provided for you- know your facts prior so you can remain calm and take the next steps.
- Simple rule of Paw: the DARKER the chocolate type aka there is more COCOCA POWER = the more toxic and problematic it is for dogs and cats.
- Why? The concentration of theobromine, a caffeine-like compound found in chocolate is TOXIC to Cats + Dogs based on how much they ate and how much they weigh. The more Cocoa Powder in the candy- the higher the Theobromine- the more dangerous it is.
And keep in mind that it’s not just the toxic effects of theobromine that makes chocolate dangerous to your pets — chocolate also has a high fat content, which can lead to digestive upset and life threatening- hospitalization needed- pancreatitis.
Pets will need hospitalization, fluids, induced vomiting, meds to help absorb the toxins, anti seizure meds…. we are talking easily over $1000 per night- and they usually have to stay 24-48 hours.
You can also download the APSCA’s poison control app to use their chocolate toxicity calculator in an emergency if you are unable to call a Veterinarian.
If you have children, make sure they don’t leave their candy lying around anywhere that’s accessible to your dog ( so far it seems it doesn’t affect kitties that much_).
- Simple rule of Paw: Xylitol is found in many sugar candies as a sugar option and is a big NO NO for pets.
- Why? Within 30 minutes of ingestion, xylitol can cause the pancreas to secrete large amounts of insulin. This encourages the pets muscle and fat tissue to use too much blood glucose. The result, hypoglycemia- too low of sugar, has devastating effects on a dog’s neurological system, which can lead to seizures or death.
- PreventiveVet.com has a free xylitol & dogs awareness “poster” to put next to your candy bucket to advocate to other PAW-rents too
- Here is a list of: xylitol-containing candies, gums, and mints.
Pets will need hospitalization, fluids, induced vomiting, meds to help absorb the toxins, anti seizure meds…. we are talking easily over $1000 per night- and they usually have to stay 24-48 hours. PLUS they usually have to get recheck blood works a few months after to ensure there is no long term organ damage.
-Open Door Policy-
When opening and closing that door dozens of times during trick or treating- its easy for a pet to run out, or say hi to another human and that human not know how to be kind to a pet which can result in a bad situation.
- Simple Rule of Paw: Keep your pets locked up in a secondary room with a door – such as a master bedroom- with low lights, food, water and potty space.
- Why? This gives them a calm space to relax, and it gives you a space to enjoy the holiday with out worries of their safety.
If you are out and about for the night? Have a professional pet sitter come by and do a pop in check up of your pets to ensure their comfort, safety or provide routine meds as needed: http://www.AttaBoyAnimalCare.com
So be PAW-pared, PAW-sitive and hide that candy FAR FAR AWAY~
- Amber Van Denzen Suarez, CPPS
Founder, Atta Boy! Animal Care
13 Year Veterinary Nurse
BA in Animal Science, University of Florida