It’s that time of year again… Halloween!!! Even though Halloween is a fun time for children (and even adults who love sweets), it can be a dangerous time of year for pets who tend to get into things. The most common household poison that pets encounter this time of year is chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine which is poisonous to dogs. Baking chocolate contains the most amount of theobromine, followed by semi-sweet and dark chocolate, and then milk chocolate. The more theobromine present, the smaller amount of chocolate needed to cause toxic effects including vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rhythm, and even death in severe cases.
Besides the chocolate, most people don’t realize the amount of other potential poisons for your cat or dog that are in most households.
One of the most dangerous pet poisons that is relatively unknown is xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in a lot of sugar-free gum, toothpastes, and candy. When ingested, xylitol can cause a dangerous drop in an animal’s blood sugar and can lead to liver failure. Typical symptoms that can be seen with low blood sugar include weakness, collapse, or seizures. Internal bleeding, vomiting, and diarrhea can also be seen as part of this severe poisoning.
Antifreeze is another severe poison that can be found around the house. Antifreeze ingestion can lead to severe kidney failure. Nausea, vomiting, increased thirst, lethargy, acting uncoordinated and other neurologic signs are typically seen if ingestion has occurred. Other common household toxicities include grapes (including raisins) which can lead to kidney failure, and onions and garlic which can lead to anemia. Zinc is another possible toxic cause of anemia. Zinc toxicity can occur when A&D topical ointment is consumed or if recent pennies (minted since 1983) have been ingested.
If your pet ingests any of the above items, please contact your veterinarian and seek immediate care. Appropriate care done in a speedy manner can improve your pet’s outcome if an unfortunate ingestion happens. Have a Happy Halloween and enjoy your chocolate responsibly.