Follow these tips to ensure your pets have a safe and Happy Halloween.
Make sure your pets only receive pet-specific treats. Candy is unsafe for pets. There are two kinds of candy that are extremely dangerous for your pets.
Chocolate: In all forms chocolate can be toxic to your pet—dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the most potent and are the most dangerous forms for your pet. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include, but are not limited to:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Panting and restlessness
- High heartrate
- Severe cases can include
- Muscle tremors
- Heart failure
If your pet has ingested a large amount of chocolate, especially dark and baking, take your pet to your regular vet or emergency hospital immediately.
Xylitol: This is an ingredient in sugar-free candy. Dogs and cats can’t process Xylitol like we can—even a small amount can be very toxic. If you think your pet has ingested Xylitol it is important to get them to your veterinarian or emergency hospital right away. Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning include, but are not limited to:
• Vomiting and/or black tarry stools
• Tremors and seizures
• Loss of consciousness/coma
Safety: It is best to bring your pets inside before the trick or treating starts. The chaos, costumes, and surrounding activity can be overwhelming for them. Sadly some people take Halloween as an opportunity to do aggressive and mean things to pets. If your pet becomes agitated from repeated knocking on the door you can set up outside to pass out candy.
Decorations: Pumpkins, corn, hay, candles, and candy make for festive decorations. Be careful where you place them around the house. Pumpkins, although non- toxic, can cause upset stomachs if eaten in large volumes. Large chunks of pumpkin and especially corn can get lodged in the stomach or intestines making for an extremely dangerous blockage which would require immediate surgery. Don’t leave lit candles in places that could be easily knocked over. If you have particularly adventurous or playful pets it may be best to use outside decorations only.
Christmas decorations can be especially dangerous for cats. Cats are naturally attracted to garland, tinsel, small ornaments, and ribbon. They look like fun toys for our kitties. Since cats are able to reach high places many more of these items are accessible to them. Some cats ingest parts of these items which can require you and your pet to visit the emergency room during the holidays. You might not realize that your cat is secretly eating tinsel from your Christmas tree while you are sleeping until it is too late. You can take precautions by keeping small, edible decorations and garland, tinsel, and ribbon out of their reach.
If you notice your cat playing with a dangerous ornament or piece of ribbon, tinsel, or garland you should remove it right away. If you think your cat has a loss in appetite, is lethargic, or you notice vomiting or diarrhea, it is important to call your veterinarian immediately for a check-up.
It is easy to give table scraps to our dogs and cats after the Thanksgiving meal. It is not advisable to offer table scraps to pets on a regular basis but Thanksgiving can be an exception if you follow the recommendations below:
- Set aside a small amount of turkey and sprinkle it over your dog’s or cat’s normal food for several meals.
- Allow your pet to have a small bowl of cooked vegetables or raw vegetables.
- Add a small amount of mashed potatoes to their food.
- Let them have a small bite of pumpkin pie or canned pumpkin.
- Split a dinner roll with them.
Do NOT allow your dog or cat to eat any of the following from Thanksgiving dinner:
- Turkey Bones
- Raisins or Grapes
- Ham (which can be very hard for pets to digest)
Be sure to give your dog or cat only a small amount of the approved table scraps above. Avoid high fat foods because they can cause pancreatitis. If your pet has food allergies—be sure to adhere to their normal diet only.
Remember—if you have a pet emergency—the Emergency Clinic of the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is open 24/7 365 days per year including holidays to take care of your dog or cat. Our new state-of-the-art Emergency Clinic has a hospital design complete with ICU, oxygen cage, all new equipment, and more. Our number is 703.361.8287.