Halloween Safety Tips for Pets
With Halloween fast approaching, here is a timely reminder about a potential danger to our pets - chocolate toxicity. Ingestion of chocolate by pets is among the 20 most common poisonings reported in recent literature. It is the methylxanthine alkaloids, primarily theobromine and caffeine, that cause the deleterious effects and these are found in the highest concentrations in baking chocolate and the chocolate found in candy. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is, because these chemicals are in a higher concentration.
Dogs, most often puppies, are commonly affected, with smaller breeds being at higher risk. Smaller dogs need less of the chemicals to make them sick. Signs of toxicity are vomiting and diarrhea in the first few hours after ingestion. This can progress, if not treated, to increased restlessness, seizures and increased heart rate. Advanced signs are weakness, coma and death.
Not every dog that eats a chocolate kiss is in danger, but if your dog or puppy does get into the kid's Halloween stash, call your veterinarian immediately.
Veterinarians also advise pet owners to keep pets away from the Halloween festivities. Some animals become distressed by the change in environment and the increased noise of doorbells and trick or treaters may cause pets to act out of character, resulting in an animal biting or escaping.
While pets might look cute in costumes, costumes that do not fit well can obstruct your pet's ability to move, hear, or even breathe. Pets that do not like wearing a costume can become quite stressed in the effort to remove it. Be aware of elastic and other costume fasteners that can become caught on your pet.
Another thing to consider are the safety hazards to pets and your entire family when pumpkins and candles are lit. Pets may knock these items over resulting in your pet being burned or other items catching on fire.
Remember, your pet counts on you to keep him healthy and safe. Share your Halloween with him in ways that he will enjoy.
The New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association (NJVMA) represents the state's 1,400 licensed veterinarians. If you need a veterinarian, please call the NJVMA office at 908-281-0918 for a referral or visit our website at dev.njvma.org.