Tricks-Not Treats-for Pets This Halloween!

Chocolate-Based Animal Poisons, Noise Danger and Costume Advice


Can your dog “sit” on command? Does your cat come when called? Great! Those are wonderful tricks, but you don’t want to give any treats to your pet this Halloween.

Chocolate Toxicosis

Eating chocolate can be fatal for a pet. Chocolate contains a substance known as theobromine, a bitter, caffeine-related alkaloid, which can have a dangerous effect on your pet. If this chemical builds up in your pet’s system, it can be lethal.

Lisa Acho Remorenko

The effects of theobromine on a pet depend on the animal’s size and the quantity of chocolate eaten. It also depends on the type of chocolate since each type contains different levels of this chemical. For instance, dark chocolate contains much higher concentrates of theobromine than does milk chocolate and so could pose a greater risk to your pet.

Less than 1 ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight – for example, less than 10 ounces eaten by a 10-pound animal – can be lethal. If your pet ingests any amount of chocolate, call your veterinarian right away and report your pet’s weight, the estimated amount and type of chocolate ingested.

The safest rule of thumb is to keep all chocolate out of your pet’s reach.

Signs of Chocolate Toxicosis

Symptoms of chocolate toxicosis arise within hours after your pet ingests the chocolate and are similar to those that accompany many gastrointestinal conditions. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, heavy breathing, an increased heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures, lack of bladder control, and, in the most severe toxicity cases, coma. These blatant indicators mean something is wrong with your pet and they require prompt veterinary attention.

Other Safety Precautions for Your Pet on Halloween

This black cat will be even unluckier if its owner doesn't take the proper Halloween precautions.

Keep pets safe at home. Many timid animals are frightened by children in costumes and may bite if provoked. If you have a timid dog, it’s best to keep him inside and away from trick-or-treaters. Cats also tend to run when they hear loud noises. To keep your cat completely safe on Halloween, keep her indoors and safe in a room where he or she can’t escape. And always make sure your dog and cat have collars on them with proper identification, in case they should escape.

Keep decorations out of reach. Make sure decorations that pets could chew on (like streamers and fake spider webs) are out of reach. Your pet could choke on Halloween decorations or become tangled and injured by dangling cords. Also make sure jack-o-lanterns with candles and flames are out of harm’s way.

Dressing Up Your Pet

If you dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement, sight or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe or bark. Keep a look out for small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces on the costume that your pet could choke on.

Keeping these suggestions in mind, you can have a safe and fun Halloween this season with your pet.


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