Idiopathic Issues

Holiday Dangers - October Edition

Posted by Jessica Gramlich on October 28, 2015 at 10:44 AM
Jessica Gramlich
Dr. Gramlich is a 2008 graduate of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. After completing a one-year emergency internship in Rhode Island, she spent five years working as a small animal general practitioner in New Hampshire.

halloweendogIt is truly amazing how some animals get themselves into trouble. Sometimes they bring it upon themselves and sometimes we set them up for failure.  The holidays are a very common time for mishaps.  We get busy, the normal routine is interrupted, there are new people in the mix and sometimes our patients pay the price.  It’s our job to inform owners of the dangers.

Here are some typical Halloween offenders:

Chocolate

Chocolate toxicity is a common poisoning among pets.  Chocolate contains methylxanthines which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, tachycardia, seizures and in high doses death.  Keep pets away from chocolate, especially the darker versions.

Candy and candy wrappers

Candy makes you dandy, except when it gives you gastroenteritis and pancreatitis.  The high levels of sugar can sicken pets.  Be sure to keep the bowl of candy corns out of your pet’s reach.  Sometimes even more concerning is the candy wrapper.  When patient’s ingest wrappers there is a possibility for bowel obstruction.  If a pet continues to vomit or has trouble defecating after eating candy wrappers imaging should be performed to look for evidence of obstruction.

Raisins

I love Raisinets! Great movie theater snack too but that combo of chocolate and raisins can be killer. Unfortunately raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure.  A few types of candy have raisins in them, but oftentimes children are given raisins as a healthy alternative to sugary snacks.  Be careful and keep your pets away from this toxic-to-them health food.

Glow sticks

Glow sticks are a helpful safety tool for trick-or-treaters so they can be seen by passing motorists, but curious pets who like to chew on new objects may be in for a nasty surprise.  Besides being a possible future foreign body obstruction from the plastic pieces, the liquid glowing fluid can be caustic and cause chemical burns to the oral mucosa.  Look for drooling or foaming at the mouth or just turn the lights off to see if there is flow in the dark liquid splatter on your pet.

Costumes 

Some people love dressing up for Halloween.  As a person who grew up in the north, that costume was always covered up by a snowsuit so that thrill of dressing up is a little less exciting.  However, lots of people like to involve their pets in the fun.  Come to think of it, it’s almost like making them wear their snowsuit beneath their costume.  Costumes can be fun for some pets, there are definitely a few dogs and cats and ferrets, etc that truly enjoy playing dress up with you.  Unfortunately many pets just don’t get it and don’t appreciate it.  The costumes can be hot, constricting, obstruct movement or vision and look embarrassing.  If you do dress up your poor pet, watch them closely as many costume pieces become foreign body obstructions.  Do not let your pet eat it’s outfit. 

Jack-o-lanterns

Carving pumpkins is really fun.  I’m a typical goofy face kind of carver while other people go all out and make amazing art out of their pumpkins.  Eating a pumpkin is unlikely to make your pet sick as it is non-toxic but that candle on the inside has sent many an unlucky pet to the emergency room.  Burns from lit pumpkins are a real danger so make sure to keep the jack-o-lantern out of your pet’s reach.

Front door dangers

On Halloween night it is important to make sure that your pets and your trick-or-treaters are as safe as possible. For starters you should keep your pets indoors.  Black cats in particular should not be outside, but really all of your pets should be secured inside.  Ideally you should confine your pet to a safe place in the house where they do not have access to the candy-giving door.  The constant knocking and door opening and shouting has resulted in many animals escaping into the night.  Be sure all of your animals are appropriately labeled with collars AND tags (and ideally microchips) prior to Halloween night.  Unless you have the worlds most chill dog who likes to greet people at the door, another reason to keep your pet confined is the danger of front door excitement bites.  Lots of dogs have issues with the front door and/or children, but children hopped up on sugar and shouting for candy and wearing scary masks might be enough to push your nervous dog over threshold resulting in a bite.  Just be careful and keep your pets out of harms way.

That’s it for this October edition of Holiday Dangers.  Do you have other tips or advice for Halloween pet safety?

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Topics: Toxicity

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