Halloween is right around the corner and the treat bowls are already stocked to the brim with candies, chocolates and other treats in bated anticipation of trick-or-treaters. With over half the American households having a dog as pet, it’s essential to be aware of what sort of treats or food items are harmful, even dangerous for our furry friends.

You would be surprised to know that the days leading up to and after Halloween are some of the hectic times for veterinarians who are called upon by concerned pet parents after pet dogs inadvertently snack on treats from the candy bowl.

In general, most candies might not pose a serious threat to a pet dog, but some of the popular treats you see around Halloween can turn dangerous.

  1. Anything containing Xylitol (most popular brands of chewing gum)
  2. Raisins
  3. Dark chocolate
  4. Items containing milk chocolate. Though there might be very little actual chocolate, but a large quantity ingested by a small animal can be complicate the issue. In addition, the heavy dose of sugar, fat and more can result in a gastrointestinal upset (read: vomiting and diarrhea).
  5. Beware of all the non-chocolate sugary sweets that can cause potential GI upset.

Chocolate is toxic to dogs as well as cats. The level of toxicity and its undesirable effects is proportionate to the kind of chocolate, the amount ingested and the size of the pet. A large amount of chocolate and a small animal can be a most dangerous combination.

Symptoms of toxicity include tremors, elevated heart rate, seizures or even hyperactivity. Chocolate can turn fatal in large enough quantities. Chocolates increase in toxicity with the levels of cacao in them.

  • Over indulging and/or wolfing down inappropriate food such as candy or similar treats, wrappers, decorations etc., can lead to GI upset in pets.
  • Artificial sweeteners in general and xylitol in particular can be highly toxic for dogs and cats. Sugar free gum and some so called “low calorie” foods might contain xylitol. Intake of xylitol can result in low levels of blood sugar, seizures and/or even liver failure.
  • Raisins can result in kidney failure for dogs.
  • One major non-food related issue around Halloween time is runaway pets. All the costumes, loud voices and the in and out through the front door can be tempting for a dog or cat to run out into the world.

One sure way to avoid emergencies during Halloween is to make sure everything undesirable is kept well out of reach of pets. Keep an eye out for excited kids who are prone to leave candy lying around. Keep a constant watch around the house and ensure that everything is put away. Remember, pet dogs like kids are opportunists and are always on the lookout for illicit treats!

It’s important to make sure that pets are secured safely during the holidays. If possible, try to seclude them in a part of the house where will not be disturbed by the goings on and cannot easily escape from. And be sure to take him out for some playtime or even a visit to the dogwash after the festivities are over!