Halloween hazards and your pets

Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:51:31 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 08 2014 11:02:50 AM EST
SOUTH FLORIDA -

No matter how old you are, or whether or not you have kids, Halloween is fun!  But just like during other hectic holidays, fun and games need to be tempered with a little due diligence.  Here are some tips to keep your fur kids safe this Halloween.

Keep candy away from pets

While cats are not generally drawn to candy, dogs will eat it with gusto.  Chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid that is toxic to companion animals. Clinical signs of theobromine poising include vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination.  These signs can to progress to irregular heartbeats, seizures, internal bleeding, cardiac arrest, and even death.  While the amount of theobromine found in dark chocolate or baking chocolate is much higher than amounts found in milk chocolate, all chocolate candies can pose serious risks to your pet.  The high fat and sugar contents can lead to gastro-intestinal upset or life-threatening pancreatitis.

In addition to chocolate, nuts can pose problems for pets as well.  Their shape, size, and texture make them difficult to digest, and in the worst case scenario, they can cause an obstruction that requires a surgical repair.  Walnuts can contain toxins produced by fungi that can lead to neurological symptoms, and macadamia nuts have been linked to muscle tremors, hindquarter paralysis, high fever and rapid heart rate.  As of this writing, veterinary researchers have not identified the substance that causes these symptoms.  Raisins must also be kept away from pets.  While scientists do not know why, raisins and grapes have been linked to kidney failure in dogs.  And it only takes a small amount to make a dog seriously ill.

It is important to make sure children know about the doggie dangers in their trick-or-treat bags.  Make sure they know that candy is never to be shared, and must be stored out of your pet's reach.  Ask them to bring any unwanted candy to an adult so they will not be tempted to get rid of it by sharing it with your pet.  If your pet has a habit of getting into the trash, try to find a creative solution for unwanted candy.

Remember that Halloween is scary

While many pets are happy to join in the fun, some find it absolutely terrifying.  Constant ringing of doorbells, strangers at the door, loud noises, freaky costumes - all of these things can be frightening to dogs and cats.  Since the front door is likely to opening and closing often, the best place for your cat  may be in another room, behind a closed door, with access to food, water, and a litter box.  If your dog is not having fun, it's okay to put her in her kennel.  Frightened animals can bolt through open doors.  Additionally, a frightened dog is statistically likely to bite.  Keep a watchful eye on both dogs and children, and calmly remove dogs from situations that may trigger them to bite.

Clean up after crafts

If you are making Halloween costumes this year, clean up all crafting debris as soon as possible.  Shiny needles and wispy threads are irresistible to cats.  When swallowed, they present a life-threatening emergency.  Ribbons and strings can cause problems as well, so keep your kitty away from the crafting supplies.

Keep pets inside

As Halloween approaches, our neighbors may decide to head out for a bit of mischief.  Do not leave pets unattended outside where they can be teased, harassed, or frightened.

Most importantly - have fun!  By taking a few simple precautions, we can save our pets from a scary Halloween trip to the vet! 

Do you have a question for Dr. Kupkee?  Send it to askdrk@sabalchaseanimalclinic.com

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