Halloween is a lot of fun for kids and parents alike, but dangers are often overlooked for pets during the holiday. Foods like chocolate, candies and other Halloween items can all pose a potential risk for small pets during all the fun.
Because Halloween is associated with plenty of candy, it is often the first place that pet owners find trouble. With chocolate being the most obvious danger pets find, Osceola Veterinary Services vet technician Michelle Axelsen, shares some of the other candies that are more dangerous than others.
“A lot of the new candies – the really sugary ones – are really toxic to pets because the have xylitol in them,” she says. “It’s a sugar alternative. A lot of candy and even peanut butter has replaced sugar with xylitol to make them somewhat healthier, but it’s not safe for pets.” Axelsen also explains that the wrappers from candy can be dangerous.
“Just the wrappers themselves have a risk to cause bowel obstruction,” she says. “It’s mostly cats that have this problem, but some smaller dogs are at risk too.” To prevent the risks associated with chocolate, xylitol, or candy wrappers, the best course of action is to keep the bowl of candy meant for trick-or-treaters somewhere inaccessible to pets.
There are other dangers for pets apart from candy. Many dogs are easily upset when someone comes to the door. Because of the amount of trick-or-treaters that come to the door on Halloween, this issue becomes worse than normal and could cause hazardous situations.
“If your doorbell rings 100 times and your dog gets anxiety from the doorbell, you’re going to have some problems,” says Axelsen. “The best thing to do is to give them a safe place to hide: a kennel, or a separate room to put them in during that time is best.”
Another issue that comes from all the front door traffic is the possibility of losing a nervous pet. “You should always make sure that your pet is either micro chipped or that they have some kind of ID collar on during trick-or-treating,” says Axelsen. “Sometimes pets will dart out of the door, so you want to be able to identify them if that happens.”
One of the last dangers that are forgotten by pet owners is the costume that they dress their pets in. While they can be cute, it’s important to make sure that there are no loose pieces that pets can chew on and cause a choking hazard.
On the topic of chewing, veterinary clinics are seeing an increase in pets that come in after chewing glow sticks – primarily cats. “You know cats, they love to chew on plastic,” says Axelsen. “The stuff that’s inside the glow stick can leak out and it’s really painful when it touches their mouth. It can cause drooling, and foaming at the mouth. It’s very alarming when they get into it.”
Despite the best of caution, any pet owner can find that their pet runs into one of these dangers making it important to know how to react. The first response is to contact the Pet Poison Helpline who will often have immediate advice for pet owners. The next step is to find the nearest open veterinary clinic.
Osceola Veterinary Services is open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays, but small animal emergencies are often referred to clinics like Blue Pearl Pet Hospital in Blaine, Minnesota.
“Don’t wait to seek help. With most toxins, the longer you wait to start treatment, the greater the risk to the pet,” explains Dr. Kelley of Blue Pearl Pet Hospital. “So, time is very important to successful management, and waiting until symptoms occur often means a worse prognosis or longer and more expensive course of treatment.”
Pet Poison Hotline: 800-213-6680
Blue Pearl Pet Hospital: 11850 Aberdeen St. NE, Blaine MN 55449; (763)-754-5000
Osceola Veterinary Service, SC: 829 River Road, Osceola, WI 54020; 715-294-3431