Nothing says fall is officially here like the parade of little ghosts and goblins asking the timeless question, “Trick or treat,” but Halloween can be a spooky time for four-legged monsters. Plenty of potentially dangerous situations for pets lurk in the shadows during the Halloween season, so we’re dressing up as teachers and sending you to Howl-O-Ween Safety School.
Lesson #1: Chemistry
Chocolate is an all-time favorite Halloween score for trick or treaters, and it’s equally tempting to some pets. But, chocolate can be deadly for dogs, because it contains chemicals called methylxanthines, and our canine friends are sensitive to their effects. Theobromine and caffeine are methylxanthines often found in chocolate, with the amount depending on the chocolate type consumed. In general, the less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic, which is good news when it comes to Halloween candy that is typically milk chocolate. Unsweetened baking chocolate, however, contains nearly seven times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Depending on the amount and type of chocolate consumed, signs in dogs can range from vomiting and diarrhea to hyperactivity, high heart rate, and death.
Lesson #2: Engineering
You may have thrown away all the chocolate in your Halloween stash—we won’t tell your kids you sneaked some for yourself—but your pets aren’t out of danger. All those wrappers you left behind as evidence still smell delicious enough to eat. Foil and cellophane wrappers may go down easy, but they can cause blockage when they reach the intestines. Intestinal blockage can be life-threatening, and severe obstructions will require surgery. Because the signs of intestinal blockage are similar to those you might see in a pet who has overindulged in holiday treats, diagnosis can be delayed. Play it safe by making sure candy wrappers go into the trash can, and that the trash can is secure from four-legged rummagers.
Lesson #3: Nutrition
We all remember that one house in the neighborhood who tried to make Halloween a healthy holiday for trick or treaters—you know, the family who gave out the dreaded boxes of raisins. If you have a similar do-gooder neighbor, those boxes likely will languish in your kid’s Halloween bucket until they find their way to the trash can. Pay close attention to the raisin boxes while they’re in your home, however, because raisins are deadlier to dogs than chocolate. Raisins, and their plumper brothers, grapes, can cause kidney failure in dogs. There is no known safe dose, and while it might sound silly to call us because your mastiff ate one tiny raisin, we hope that you do. The sooner we can start treatment, the better your pet will fare with his wrath of grapes.
Lesson #4: Career development—dress for success
There’s no doubt about it—pets in Halloween costumes are as cute as kids in Halloween costumes, and we love seeing your pet decked out in his spooky, or adorable, best. Before you head out the door with your pet bee, zombie, or taco, ensure that the costume is a good fit. Costumes that are too tight, especially around the neck, can easily lead to respiratory distress, and that threat increases when pets are excited or panting. Also, ensure there are no loose snaps, beads, or baubles on the costumes that can be swallowed, as these pose choking and potential intestinal obstruction hazards.
Lesson #5: Art
Halloween never seems complete without glow sticks and glowing jewelry. Whether jack-o’-lanterns or adornments on the necks and wrists of trick or treaters, these playful glowing targets can be easy pickings for curious pets. While punctured glow sticks are unlikely to be lethal, they can irritate the mouth and throat if ingested.
Halloween is meant to be fun, and we want your whole family to enjoy it. We’re not suggesting you be a spoilsport this season, but we do want you to keep an eye out for potential pet dangers. If you think your pet has ingested chocolate or potential foreign bodies, give us a call. We want to ensure your furry friends are healthy and happy on November 1. After all, someone’s got to lend a paw with all of those Thanksgiving decorations.