Halloween Tricks and Treats
October 29, 2015
Halloween is coming up! It's a fun time for the kids to get dressed up and over eat sugary treats. Stomach aches for the kids aren't always the only problem - sometimes Fido decides to sneak into the trick-or-treat goodies for a snack too.
Halloween candy comes in all types, but the kind most people worry about their dog eating contains chocolate. Chocolate contains something called methylxanthines - caffeine being one of them. The fat and sugar found in chocolate can also be a problem for pets when eaten in large amounts. In very high doses, the methylxanthines can cause seizures and heart abnormalities, with signs showing up about 6-12 hours after the chocolate is eaten. These severe signs are generally seen when dogs eat products that contain very high levels of methylxanthines - including cocoa powder and bakers chocolate. Fortunately most Halloween candy contains milk and white chocolate - these would need to be eaten in extremely large quantities in order for the dog to have heart or seizure side effects. The most common problems noted when dogs eat large bags of Halloween candy are related to the gastrointestinal tract. The food causes the animal to become bloated and uncomfortable, and often begin vomiting. Diarrhea follows after the food as time to digest. Some dogs that have sensitive stomachs can also develop pancreatitis.
Halloween candy that contains sugar free gum or candy could also be a problem for pets. An ingredient in these called Xylitol causes extreme low blood sugar very quickly- which can cause weakness, confusion, and even seizures. Call your veterinarian immediately if foods containing this ingredient are ingested by your pet.
If your pet does manage to get into the candy, call your veterinary clinic to ask what to do next. They will likely ask about the type and amount of candy the animal ate and how long it has been since it was eaten. If it was recent, even up to several hours, typically inducing vomiting is suggested. The best option is to take your pet to the clinic to allow them to induce vomiting and monitor the pet for signs of toxicity.
Diarrhea may occur even if most of the candy is removed via vomiting. It is a good idea to feed an easily digestible diet for a few days after candy ingestion. Boiled hamburger or chicken and white rice works well for GI upset. You can also ask your veterinarian for a canned diet that is easy to digest.
Keeping Halloween candy away from our animals is the best way to keep them safe. We at Brewer Animal Hospital hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween with the pets they love!