Trick or Treat: Halloween Hazards for Dogs

Tis the season of goblins and ghosts, tricks, or treats, and fun for all. What’s not so fun are the hidden Halloween dangers for dogs that can be found in candy, the excitement of the night itself, costumes, and decorations. With over 60 percent of Southeast Michigan residents owning pets, keeping dogs safe this time of year can save owners the high cost of vet bills and the heartache of losing a furry friend.

We know to keep chocolate away from our dogs. What you might not know is that some types of chocolate are more hazardous than others. Baking chocolate is the most dangerous, with dark chocolate a close second. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to your dog. Keep all chocolate and candy out of reach of curious canines in your home. It is also recommended you keep your dog at home while trick-or-treating to make sure it doesn’t eat any dropped candy. The wrapper may become lodged in your dog’s throat or intestinal tract, possibly requiring expensive surgery to remove.

If your dog does eat chocolate, contact your vet or an emergency veterinarian clinic immediately. You may also call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. It is your best resource for any poison-related emergency, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A consultation fee may apply.

What may not be as well known is that xylitol, a common sugar substitute, is very toxic to pets. It is mostly used in sugar-free items, but it can be found in many foods that are not sugar free.

Avoid giving your dogs processed human foods, especially when you don’t know all the ingredients.  Xylitol can cause life-threatening toxicoses in dogs, even those ingesting just a very small amount.

Gum and hard candies, if eaten in large enough quantities, potentially can cause obstructions in a dog’s stomach.

Some Halloween treats can be healthy for kids but very poisonous to pets. Small boxes of raisins, for example, are common, but they can cause renal failure in dogs, the same as grapes. As with chocolate, contact a vet or the Animal Poison Control Center as soon as possible if ingested.

When trick-or-treaters come around, it might be best to keep your dog in a back room or its crate to prevent a quick escape with the frequent opening and closing of the front door. Also make sure your dog is well identified with a dog tag or an identification microchip to make sure your furry friend makes it home if lost.

Another good reason to keep your dog away from the hubbub is to reduce its anxiety on Halloween night. It’s natural for your dog to be protective of home and family, perhaps growling or barking every time the doorbell rings, which upsets the dog as well as feeling threatening to trick or treaters.

If you do like to take your dog out on Halloween, especially dressed up in a cute costume, keep in mind these tips for making sure your pet is comfortable and safe:

  1. Make sure your dog’s costume is not too tight or so loose it may cause tripping. A pet costume is comfortable for your dog if they can move easily without restriction or distraction.
  2. Remove any labels or pieces of the costume that your dog can chew off and choke on.
  3. Check that the costume does not block your pet’s sight, breathing, hearing, or movement.
  4. Accustom your pet to wearing a costume, first around the house and then for short walks.

Last of all, keep lit candles and other Halloween decorations out of your pet’s reach. Of special note are glow sticks, which if a dog chews through them, may release a substance that is poisonous to your pet. The same with fake blood. Rubber eyeballs can be a choking risk, and fake cobwebs may also choke or entangle pets.

While all this advice may seem a bit scary, just a few precautions will ensure a fun-filled Halloween for all, even your precious pup.


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