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Trick or Treat: How to Prevent Your Pet from Getting into Halloween Candy

During the Halloween season, we see an increase in emergency cases that involve pets getting into trick-or-treating bags. These ER visits are 100% preventable! So, how can you prevent a trip to the pet ER this Halloween?

Here are a few tips:

1. Keep all Halloween candy stashes out of your pet’s reach. We recommend a high spot that is secure. Suggestions include the top shelf of a pantry closet or a high cupboard such as the one above the refrigerator. If your pet is extra devious, use a child lock! DO NOT store candy in lower cabinets, on the counter or table, or even in a zipped purse or bag. Pets are determined creatures and if they can reach it, they will get into it! Trust us.
2. Enforce a candy rule in the house that kids need a parent to access the candy. We suggest keeping the candy stash spot a secret from the kids so they won’t try to sneak any pieces. Also, this rule will ensure supervision so that the pets won’t get into any candy bags while your kid is retrieving a piece.
3. Encourage kids to eat their candy at the table instead of on the floor, couch, or in their bedrooms. This will eliminate your pet’s chances of stealing some candy, as well as prevent your kid from leaving any candy or wrappers lying around the house.
4. If you are hosting a Halloween party, tell guests not to feed your pets anything. Better yet, keep your pets in a closed off room so they can’t sneak into any unattended candy, snacks, or drinks.
5. When throwing away large candy bags after emptying out the contents into the trick-or-treating bowl, cut the bags twice down the sides. While this isn’t a toxicity emergency, it could still be life-saving. Why? Because if the remaining smell of chocolate entices your pet to dig through the trash can, he may place his head into the empty, plastic bag and get stuck. This could cause your pet to suffocate. This is why it’s important to never leave plastic bags lying around and to cut up any chip or other snack bags before throwing away.
So, why is Halloween candy so dangerous to pets? Here are just a few reasons:
1. Chocolate
Many pet owners know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. Halloween candy often contains a lot of chocolate goodies. The general rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more toxic. However; if your dog eats an entire pillowcase of chocolate candy bars, the quantity becomes a bigger factor than the chocolate type.
2. Xylitol
Sugar-free gum, candies, and even Halloween baked goods may contain xylitol, a sugarless sweetener. Xylitol can cause severely low blood sugar, as well as liver damage and failure in dogs. Even small amounts can be life-threatening. When throwing away xylitol products, be sure the trash can is secure otherwise the sweet scent may entice your pet to roam through the garbage.
3. Sugar Overload
When pets eat a lot of people food, especially sugary food like candy, they could develop pancreatitis. This is very painful and often fatal. Some pets may not show symptoms for 2-4 days after eating the candy so if your pet gets into the candy stash, it’s important to bring him/her to your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital right away!
4. Candy Wrappers
We’re guessing your pets don’t have the etiquette to remove the candy wrappers before diving in. Those foil and cellophane wrappers can cause life-threatening bowel obstructions in pets.
5. Grapes/Raisins
Some neighbors try to discourage the Halloween candy craze by handing out healthy snacks like mini raisin boxes. Not only is this a dissatisfaction for most kids, it’s also adding another toxicity to the haul. Raisins and grapes are very toxic to dogs. A small amount of raisins or grapes can cause kidney failure.

If your pet does get into the Halloween candy and your family veterinarian is unavailable, both our Oakdale and St. Paul clinics are open 24/7. We hope you and your pets have a spooktacular Halloween!

For more Halloween safety tips for pets, check out some of our other blogs:
Halloween Pet Costume Safety Guide
How to Help Anxious Pets on Halloween
Safe Halloween Activities for Dogs
Halloween and Your Pets
Halloween Pet Dangers

By Janine Hagen

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