Halloween is typically full of enjoyable spooky situations but, sometimes, they go wrong, especially when pets are involved. Your curious four-legged friend may get up to no good during this frightening holiday and create a Halloween horror worthy of a top-rated Netflix spot. If your pet encounters an emergency situation this holiday, trust that your Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center team has your back. Following are the five contenders for the most common Halloween emergencies we see at our hospital.
#1: Your entire chocolate stash ended up in your pet’s stomach—wrappers and all
Chocolate is a huge Halloween hit among children, adults—and dogs. While pets can tolerate white chocolate treats well, dark chocolate or desserts made with baker’s chocolate pose a real threat. In general, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic. Mild signs (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst) may be seen in dogs who ingest 20 milligrams of methylxanthines (i.e., caffeine and theobromine) per kilogram of body weight. Cardiac issues may be seen at 40 to 50 milligrams per kilogram, while seizures may occur at doses higher than 60 milligram per kilogram. To clarify, one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is a potentially lethal dose in dogs. If you’re unsure whether your pooch ate a deadly amount of chocolate, or to expect only vomiting and diarrhea, use Merck’s chocolate toxicity calculator, or contact our animal emergency hospital.
If your pet sneaks into your chocolate stash, don’t forget the wrappers. Pets typically swallow, rather than unwrap, foil and plastic wrappers, which can stick together to form an immovable ball in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Also, pets who eat packs of chocolate-covered raisins should head to the Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center straightaway, as the chocolate, raisins, and wrappers pack a triple toxic threat.
#2: Your pet’s costume was more dangerous than delightful
Although a furry pirate, cowboy, or stegosaurus is an adorable sight, pet costumes can cause all manner of casualties if they do not fit properly. Too-tight costumes can restrict breathing, vision, and movement, and can choke your pet if the outfit slips and slides. Buttons, ties, and other dangling decorations can easily be chewed off, leading to a potential foreign body obstruction that requires emergency surgery. When in doubt whether your furry pal can handle a Halloween costume, stick to a flashy collar or bandana to show off their holiday spirit.
#3: Your pet gobbled down your sugar-free candies
Sugar-free means healthy, right? In your dog’s case, sugar-free can mean deadly. Xylitol is a common sugar substitute frequently found in sugar-free candy and gum, and this sweet substance can cause a dangerous drop in your pet’s blood sugar and lead to liver failure. Xylitol toxicity signs can develop up to 30 minutes after ingestion, but also can be delayed for 12 hours or more, which is the case with some sugar-free gums. If your dog exhibits weakness, vomiting, ataxia, or seizures after sneaking into your candy stash, they may have eaten sugar-free candies and require immediate care.
#4: Your sneaky pet slipped out the door and was hit by a car
While this year you may not be continuously opening your door for trick-or-treaters, your pet may still have ample opportunity to slip outside. Reflective collars and harnesses can help highlight your pet after dark, and drivers should be on high Halloween alert to watch for costumed goblins and ghouls, but accidents happen all too often. Your beloved pet may get struck by a car, requiring first aid prior to heading to the Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center. If you’re unsure how to safely handle your injured pet, call us for advice.
#5: Your pet found your Halloween decor irresistible
Halloween decor is almost as enticing to pets as Christmas trees, and can lead to as many health hazards. Corn stalks and pumpkins can become moldy and cause neurologic issues in pets who eat them, because of aflatoxin exposure. Corn cobs, pumpkin stems, candles, batteries, fake cobwebs, and glow sticks can be intriguing chew toys, but may lead to a gastrointestinal obstruction. If your furry pal is too curious for their own good, ensure you block their access to your holiday decor.
Pets get into all sorts of mischief throughout the year, but their inquisitive nature kicks into high gear on Halloween. Surrounded by intriguing decorations, costumes, and treats, your furry pal is more at risk for trouble. If you wonder whether your pet is seriously ill, or has experienced one of the five common Halloween hazards above, call us. You can always count on the Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center to provide urgent treatment.