Halloween sweets and other dangers

Halloween poses a number of health and welfare risks to dogs, from eating foods that can be toxic to man’s best friend, such as chocolate and some sweets, as well as objects like decorations!

Chocolate

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs, as well as other animals such as cats, rodents and rabbits. Generally speaking, the darker and more expensive the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and therefore the more poisonous it is. White chocolate contains very little theobromine and so is unlikely to cause chocolate poisoning, but is still very fatty and can make your dog ill. Chocolate can initially cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but is a stimulant and so can cause your dog to become excitable, as well as develop muscle twitching, tremors, fitting and life-threatening problems with their heart.

Sweets

If available in large quantities, some dogs may gorge themselves on sugary sweets kept aside for, or collected by, trick or treaters. After eating lots of sugar, or even lots of fat, dogs can develop pancreatitis (an inflammation of the pancreas), which may cause them to be off their food, develop vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and go into organ failure.

Sugar-free sweets

Some sugar-free sweets and chewing gums contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which can be very poisonous to dogs. Xylitol is more commonly found in food products in America, but is beginning to appear in sugar-free products in the UK as well. Xylitol can cause an otherwise healthy dog’s blood sugar level to drop to dangerous levels and can also cause liver failure.

Obstruction risks

If eaten, sweet wrappers, lollipop sticks, food containers/boxes, or even small parts from a Halloween costume can all cause an obstruction in your dog’s gut. This can be very dangerous and may require surgical intervention. Signs of an obstruction may include your dog being off their food, vomiting, lethargy and not defecating or finding it difficult to defecate.

What to do if your dog has eaten something it shouldn’t

  • Call us immediately
  • It is important that we make an informed decision as to whether your dog needs to be clinically assessed or treated. Where possible please make sure you have the following information to hand:
    • what your dog has eaten
    • how much has been eaten
    • when it was eaten
  • Do not try and make your dog sick – trying to do this can sometimes cause other complications, which can make your dog unwell

Our dedicated vets are on call 24/7, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have eaten sweets we highly recommend calling us as this can be a potentially fatal situation.

 

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