Pets, Beware of Halloween Candy

Though many pet owners do their best to keep Fido and Kitty away from the Halloween candy, the Pet Poison Helpline still sees a 12% increase in calls every year during the week of Halloween.  That being said, we’ve got 3 poisonous treats regularly given out to trick or treaters that can kill our cats and dogs.  Though our pets should not be eating ANY of the Halloween candy, be extra sure they stay away from these.


Chocolate:  Most pet owners know that chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs.  This is due to the presence of Theobromine and Caffeine; two compounds in chocolate that are safe to humans, but poisonous to our pets.Typically, darker and bitter chocolates have higher concentrations of Theobromine and Caffeine. This means that the darker the chocolate, the more poisonous it is to your dog. Initial toxicity signs would be vomiting, diarrhea and not eating, then effects on the heart – fast and/or irregular heartbeat, then tremors and seizures, and finally death if not treated. If a 3lb, toy breed dog eats 1-2 Milk Hershey’s kisses, it can induce vomiting and diarrhea.  If the same pup eats 6-8 Milk Hershey’s kisses, it can be fatal.  Cats have an even lower tolerance for chocolate than dogs.  Please remember that many of the commercial candies use dark chocolate, so it will take even less to harm or even kill your pet.


Raisins: Often given out as “nature’s candy,” raisins are extremely poisonous to cats and [especially] dogs.  Raisins are metabolized differently in our pets’ bodies than in humans, so even just the smallest bit can lead to poisoning.  Raisins (and grapes) induce kidney failure in cats and dogs, which leads to death.  Symptoms of raisin poisoning includes vomiting, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, and lethargy.


Xylitol:  You may have seen this chemical listed as an ingredient in your favorite chewing gum; it may be great for our health and dental hygiene, it can be detrimental to a pet’s health.  Xylitol is often use in sugar-free candies given out at Halloween time.  In dogs, xylitol triggers the production of insulin in the pancreas.  This is a problem as the insulin depletes the true sugars in the blood stream and leaves the xylitol sugar-substitute alone.  This results in a condition called hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that can trigger seizures, liver failure, and death.


If your witnessed your pet ingesting any amount of these dangerous candies,  call your veterinarian ASAP so they can calculate if the amount may be toxic. If you are unsure but think your pet had access to these treats (regardless of if symptoms are present) you should still seek veterinary care as it is better to be cautious than have your pet suffer and potentially pass away.

It is also best to keep your pet away from ALL candies, regardless of whether or not they are actually poisonous.  Over-eating even “safe” human candies can inflame a cat or dog’s pancreas.  Severe pancreatitis can cause a pet to spend days in the hospital to prevent death.

At Emerald Animal Hospital, we have been providing compassionate veterinary care to the Cleveland area since 1976. As a full-service hospital, we offer high quality medicine and surgery. If you have any questions or concerns this Halloween, you can contact us 216-749-7161. We will discuss the best care options for each individual pet and are happy to answer any questions that may arise.


Stay safe, and enjoy your Halloween!!