Pets and Treats: Don’t be Tricked by These Yummy Candies

As Halloween approaches, I know you’re thinking about the best costume for your furkids! Something else to think about is what kind of treats they can have or, worse, what they can get into.

Yummy candy can pose a unique threat to our furkids. Chocolate is the biggest concern, but others include raisins/grapes and sugar free candies containing Xylitol.

Let’s talk about chocolate. As chocolate lovers know, not all chocolates are made the same. Milk chocolate contains less of the ingredients that are toxic to dogs and cats: caffeine and theobromine. Next comes semi-sweet chocolate, then baker’s chocolate with the most concentration of these ingredients. With the growing popularity of dark chocolate, we should be even more careful about what our dogs and cats could accidentally eat.

How much is too much? As a frame of reference: the ever-popular miniature bars sold in stores can weigh anywhere from ¾ ounce to about 1 ½ ounce. How much of that do we have to be concerned about?

If that whole bar were milk chocolate, you’d expect a mild reaction in a 10 pound dog that ate just one bar. Semi-sweet chocolate has a higher concentration of caffeine and theobromine and so that size bar would affect a five-, ten- and 20-pound dog. Baker’s chocolate, the highest concentration of all, would cause a mild reaction to dogs weighing 80 pounds or less!

If your furkid ate one, what would you expect to see? They can start off mildly such as vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity. They can be severe enough to cause tremors, seizures, rapid and irregular heartbeat, and, in very severe cases, death. If you’re ever worried that your dog or cat got into this, call your vet immediately.

Grapes and raisins can also cause toxicity in dogs and there has been potential association in cats. What’s odd is that no one is quite sure how they cause illness in them. Did you know that one small half ounce box of raisins is enough to affect a ten-pound dog? What does it do? It damages the kidneys, with some animals suffering from acute kidney failure. Many of the signs could be confused with chocolate toxicosis such as vomiting, diarrhea and not eating. Some are more specific to the kidneys: increased or decreased urination, increased drinking and lethargy. The best way to take care of this is right away by taking your pet to the veterinarian.

Something that people don’t always recognize is the danger of an artificial sweetener called Xylitol. It’s often used as a sugar substitute and it’s found in chewing gum, baking goods, sugar-free chocolate and peanut butter. A pet household should be xylitol free. It can take as little as one to three sticks of gum to kill a 20 pound dog! Yikes! This dangerous substance, harmless in humans, can cause a rapid drop of blood sugar and subsequent liver failure in as little as one to two days.

What about tampering? This comes up every year. This concern is raised when children go from door to door filling their bags with candy. What’s really interesting is that these types of tampering are rare to almost unheard of. So the good news is there’s not much to worry about in this department.

Besides treats, our furkids could get into trouble with playing with decorations or costumes by eating or chewing things they shouldn’t. Look at your decorations closely to be sure that your pet hasn’t gotten into them. Also, remember to watch the door as you’re opening and closing it. New people can cause stress and an open door can be an opportunity to bolt out to escape. Putting our friends into a quiet room and making sure that they have identification just in case is a good plan.

Let’s keep our pets safe this Halloween season by making sure to keep treats out of reach, our stressed furkids or those counter-thieves away from doors or treats, and ensuring that if they do get into something, you know what to do – call your vet right away.

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