Pet's Corner: Halloween Can Scare Up Health Trouble for Pets
Pet’s Corner: Halloween Can Scare Up Health Trouble for Pets
By Dr. Jules Benson, Petplan pet insurance Chief Veterinary Medical Officer
Creeping creatures aren’t the only fright on Halloween night – chocolate candy can cause terrible trouble for the furriest members of the family. In fact, Petplan unearthed the ghastly fact that pets are 32% more likely to suffer food poisoning during Halloween week. And that’s just the beginning! Candy wrappers, jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treaters can all pose peril for pets.
How much would a Halloween health nightmare cost you? Without pet insurance, you could pay hundreds (if not thousands) of bones. The cost of treatment for chocolate toxicity in 2014 averaged $665, while one unlucky pup’s chocolate-covered coffee bean snack scared up an almost $3,000 vet bill for his pet parents! 1
While it would be nice to simply cast a spell to defuse danger on Halloween night, it takes a little more vigilance to keep pets protected. Here’s what to watch out for:
While all chocolate is toxic to pets, dark chocolate contains a higher concentration of theobromine and caffeine, which can haunt furry friends with diarrhea, vomiting and increased heart rate and blood pressure. It can even be fatal depending on the amount ingested. Milk chocolate may be less toxic, but it has a higher fat content, which can trigger dreadful conditions like pancreatitis. Most horrifying of all? The majority of pet parents know the tricks candy treats can play on pets, yet chocolate toxicity claims continue to soar.
Raisin' a fuss
For two-legged trick-or-treaters, raisins may make a healthier alternative to sugary sweets — but they’re a no-go for pets. Even in small doses, raisin consumption can cause kidney failure, so treat these treats as if they were candy by keeping them well away from pets.
Foil, cardboard and paper wrapping can cause just as much mischief as the candy inside! If a pet snacks on wrappers, they can become stuck in his guts, causing an obstruction that often requires surgery to remove. After bingeing on bonbons, be sure to toss trash in a lidded can far from sniffing snouts.
The Great Pumpkin
While fall’s most popular squash is full of healthy fiber, jack-o-lanterns can be filled with fright. Carved pumpkins grow a mad scientist’s worth of bacteria inside them, which can give pets a terrible tummy ache if eaten. Keep cut pumpkins out of paws’ reach and consider lighting jack-o-lanterns with faux candles to banish fire hazards.
Dastardly dress up
This Halloween, 20 million people will dress up their pets, spending $350 million on costumes.3 How can you make sure pets have a howling good time? Be certain they’re able to breathe and move freely in their costumes. It’s also a good idea to choose an outfit that doesn’t have extra pieces like legs, hats or pompoms – dogs often mistake these choking hazards for chew toys.
If you’re expecting ghosts and goblins to ring your doorbell, make sure your pet isn’t tempted to go trick-or-treating with them! Consider setting up a room with water, food, toys and a comfy bed where your pet can stay safe and sound. In addition to a collar with i.d. tags, make sure your pet also has a microchip. The tiny chip, implanted easily between your pet’s shoulder blades, will make a reunion much easier if she feels like haunting the neighborhood for a spell.
End the night right
After you retire from trick-or-treating, be sure to keep your Halloween haul far out of paws’ reach, and if you notice your pet experiencing weakness, hyperactivity, vomiting or diarrhea, call your veterinarian or one of these hotlines immediately:
Pet Poison Helpline 800.213.6680
Animal Poison Control 888.426.4435
Never attempt first aid on a poisoned pet without the guidance of your veterinarian or a pet poison helpline, and get your best friend to the emergency vet as soon as you see signs of trouble.
While candy consumption is the most prevalent Halloween health risk, the holiday poses many additional dangers to pets. Keep your four-legged family members safe this spooky season with a watchful eye and by practicing these bewitching Halloween health tips!
1. According to Petplan claims data
2. According to Bestfriends.org
3. According to The National Retail Federation
Want 100% protection every day of the year? Sign up for Petplan online and get a 5% discount on your policy! Visit Petplan.com to get started.
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By Nancy Buley, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., Wholesale Tree Growers
Photographs courtesy of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.
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