candy and pets

Halloween Candies and Pets

October 27, 2015

Article written in collaboration with John Agionicolaitis, Animal Health Student, Asista Foundation, and Dre. Dominique Plante, DMV

With Halloween creeping close, people are getting ready for costumed parties and for the nightly candy hunt. Pets are just as excited for Halloween, and with reason! This night translates into long evening walks around the neighborhood, new faces coming and going on their territory, and candy… Lots and lots of it! But beware; Halloween candy can pose some serious health problems for your pet, such as poisoning.

Read on to understand why candy is unsafe for your pet and what to do should your pet get a serious sugar rush.

What types of candies should I keep away from my pet?

Any types of candies such as gum, mints, chocolate, lollipops and any other candies with a plastic wrapper should be stored away from your pet.

Chocolate is known to be toxic for cats and dogs and, if ingested in a large quantity, can even be fatal. Theobromine, an active ingredient found in cocoa and chocolate, cannot be metabolized by animals’ digestive systems. Chocolate can cause a variety of health issues depending on the type of chocolate ingested and the quantity.

Some of the most common symptoms of a chocolate intoxication are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Techycardia (increased heart rate)

In extreme cases, a severe chocolate intoxication can lead to:

  • Coma
  • Heart attack, which can be fatal

If you think your pet ate chocolate, please seek immediate veterinary assistance.

Other types of candies, such as gum, mints and lollipops, are formulated with a high concentration of sugars and carbohydrates, which cannot be processed through your pet’s pancreas and can be harsh on his or her digestive system.

Ingested candy can therefore cause:

  • Rapid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Possible pancreatitis (if a significant amount is ingested)

What are other safety precautions to be taken during Halloween?

While chocolate and candy are toxic, candy wrappers and decorations can also pose health safety issues. If ingested, these objects can cause your pet’s intestines to be blocked, also referred to as an intestinal obstruction. In this case, you should seek immediate veterinary assistance where an emergency surgery can be performed to remove the object from your pet’s body.

Is pumpkin considered toxic?

Pumpkins are not toxic, although be careful if your pet is roaming around a carved pumpkin with a lit candle inside. Wagging tails or curious cats can tip these Jack-o-Lanterns over which could cause burns or fires.

Are there resources available if I suspect my pet to require medical assistance?

The Pet Poison Helpline is an online resource and a 24-hour telephone service available throughout Canada and the U.S. You can also call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control 24-hour service available 365 days. Consultation fees may apply for both services.

The APCC app for iPhone and Android phones was also developed by the ASPCA which provides guidance on whether your pet requires veterinary care or not.

As always, if ever in doubt, your veterinarian is there for you and your pet for guidance and assistance.

What if my veterinarian is closed on Halloween night?

You may want to look for an emergency pet clinic or hospital in your area. These emergency pet centers can provide you assistance over the phone and are open late at night as well as on weekends.

So remember to be safe, cautious and have fun!

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