For many, there isn’t anything more fun than trick-or-treating on Halloween! Your pets may not share this sentiment, though. Here are some tips to have a safe and fun Halloween with your dog.
Everyone loves to dress up for Halloween, but this may not be the case for your dog. If dressing up your dog, make sure the costume fits properly and doesn’t hinder sight, breathing, hearing, or the ability to open his or her mouth fully. Be sure that there aren’t parts of the outfit that can be chewed on or ingested.
The sounds of knocking, doorbells ringing, strangers in costumes shouting “trick or treat,” and the frequent opening and closing of the door can stress your pets—and give them opportunities to escape. Giving your dog a safe and comfortable place to stay (e.g., crate or bedroom) will help keep him or her safe. Make sure dogs are wearing their collars and tags in case they do make a run for it.
Halloween is all about dressing up and collecting candy and sweets. As tempting as it is, it’s best to keep these treats away from your pets. Chocolate is not the only concern when it comes to candy. Some candies and gum contain a product called Xylitol (a common sugar substitute) that is also toxic for your pet. Be sure to keep the candy bowl up and away from your dog’s reach. Try giving your dog a filled KONG as a treat instead!
The toxic ingredients in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine. Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine and caffeine as well as people can, which is why they get much sicker much more quickly. The darker the chocolate (meaning a higher chocolate percentage), the more dangerous it is to dogs. Large dogs have to eat more chocolate than small dogs to get sick. Baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate are highly concentrated and can contain 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce. Common milk chocolate only contains about 44-58 mg/ounce. White chocolate rarely poses any threat of chocolate poisoning with only 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce of chocolate.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Candy
Try to identify what type and how much chocolate or xylitol-containing candy your dog ate.
Call your veterinarian or a pet poison hotline such as Pet Poison Hotline or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control. These veterinary toxicologists will be able to tell you how much risk of toxicity your pet has based on their size and the type of exposure. If it is determined that your dog could have ingested a toxic level of chocolate or xylitol, call your vet and head over right away. Make sure to keep track of your poison control case number as your veterinarian will want it as well.
Signs of Chocolate Toxicity
Keep in mind, many of the signs of chocolate toxicity may take several hours to present:
- Increased thirst
- Panting or restlessness
- Excessive Urination
- Increased heart rate
- In severe cases: muscle tremors, heart failure, and seizures
Signs of Xylitol Toxicity
Initial signs of xylitol poisoning are typically due to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and can develop within an hour of consumption:
- Lack of coordination or difficulty walking or standing
- Weakness/sluggishness or lethargy
- In severe cases: liver failure
If your dog develops any of these signs, go to your veterinarian or nearest veterinary ER right away.
For more holiday dog safety tips, click here.