October is approaching its grand finale: Halloween. The only thing on my mind these days are costumes, horror movies and the embarrassingly large amount of fun-sized candy bars I’ve managed to binge. Halloween candy is omnipresent the last two weeks of October. I’ve got the extra four lbs. on my waist line to prove it.
However, what may be harmless indulging on our part can prove fatal for our dogs at home. This blog will review the much-discussed topic of canine chocolate and candy ingestion. The holiday seasons is notorious for an uptick in chocolate ingestion cases at My Vet.
It’s common knowledge that chocolate is bad for your dog. But why? Not to get too technical but that would be the fault of caffeine and theobromine. Every type of chocolate contains various degrees of these two ingredients. A good rule of thumb is the higher the cacao content the more caffeine and theobromine. That means the very dark, bitter chocolates are more toxic to our pets whereas the standard white chocolate not as much.
The degree of chocolate toxicity in canines is generally correlated to the amount consumed and the pet’s weight. Smaller dogs consuming any amount of chocolate are more likely to present with symptoms due to their size. Whereas larger dogs consuming small amounts of milk chocolate may not. Regardless, always contact My Vet if your pet has eaten any amount of chocolate. Never assume that a large dog is safe from chocolate toxicity. Very large dogs need only eat a small amount of dark chocolate, cacao powder or baking chocolate to become extremely ill.
Keep in mind that chocolate is not the only type of Halloween candy that can be harmful to your pet. Certain hard or gummy candies can be toxic when ingested. Sugar-free candies contain an ingredient called Xylitol. When eaten in any amount, dogs are susceptible to sudden acute hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver failure. Coated raisins are also concerning. Raisins are linked to kidney failure. Currently there is no known safe amount of raisin consumption. Whereas chocolate has some correlation with weight even small consumption of raisins in large dogs have caused raisin toxicity. Again, if you pet happens to eat any of these substances, call My Vet as soon as possible and we’ll assist you immediately.
Maybe you have a dog who bypasses the food and digs into the wrapper instead. Not as uncommon as you may think and still cause for concern. Wrappers on candy bars can clump during digestion and are not easily passed. If you’ve caught your pet post-wrapper meal contact My Vet’s office.
So – it’s November 2nd and somehow Buddy has gotten into your leftover stash of Reese Cups and Milky Ways. What do you do? First, do not panic, take a deep breath and give our office a call. Let the client care coordinator know that your pet has ingested chocolate or an otherwise toxic substance. Our staff will ask you a few key questions and then place you on a brief hold to consult the doctor immediately. We will ask specifically what type of candy or chocolate your dog ate. Then, we will ask roughly how much. We will confirm an approximate time that your pet ate the candy and ask if he or she are currently experiencing any symptoms.
Treatment for chocolate or candy ingestion varies depending on the type, amount and time of consumption. The most common treatment if the ingestion is caught in time is to induce vomiting. This is most effective when a dog has eaten the substance within 1-3 hours. We do not recommend attempting to inducing vomiting at home without speaking to a staff member at My Vet first. Depending on the amount of chocolate consumed vomiting may not be the only treatment needed for a pet. Inducing vomiting is only the first step in a comprehensive treatment.
How can you prevent this from happening? Keep all candy and chocolate far out of reach on Halloween night. Once the night is done store any candy and chocolate in higher cabinets that are not accessible to your dog. If possible, put the fun-sized snacks into Ziploc bags that need more work to open. And as always – HAVE FUN. Takes loads of pictures of your pets dressed up in all manner of horrifying and hilarious garb. Send us pictures! Have a Happy Howl-o-ween!