They may be a naughty treat for us people (and not just the kids), but did you know that your Halloween treats could cause your pet harm?

Pets, Chocolate and Sweets

Chocolate and sweet treats can not only pile on the extra pounds but can also cause poisoning in our furry friends.  Our bodies deal with chocolate differently to dogs and other animals. While it does not cause us harm (only to the hips!), chocolate can cause stomach upset, hyperactivity, heart problems and twitching and even seizures in severe cases in pets.  Dark chocolate with higher levels of cocoa solids is more dangerous than milk chocolate as it contains more of the harmful substance. White chocolate however does not contain significant amounts, so is unlikely to cause poisoning.

And let’s not forget those chocolate raisins!  Along with the hazard from the chocolate element, eating raisins can cause kidney problems in dogs.

Sweets themselves will usually be made of mostly sugar which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea if eaten in large amounts.

For the sugar conscious among us – we may be choosing sugar free treats, or indeed sugar free chewing gums, if so, beware the artificial sweetener Xylitol.  This is great to help prevent tooth decay as we’re munching our sweets, but can cause serious problems in dogs, resulting in low blood sugar and also possibly liver damage.

For the ‘health nut’, there may also be nuts – delicious, but your dog will not be happy if they’ve grabbed a mouthful of macadamia nuts or peanuts, which can cause weakness and stomach upset, or twitching and agitation.

We may also be tempted to try out those scary recipes and do a spot of home baking – there are perils here too, including all of the above and possibly salt as well.

You may also be carving your scary pumpkins or squash for your Halloween displays.  While eating these does not usually cause problems, in some cases where squash or pumpkin are for display purposes only (rather than for eating), they can be very bitter tasting.  If they are bitter, they can cause serious stomach upset and could cause pets to collapse when eaten.

Let’s try to make this Halloween less scary for pet owners and less ghoulish for our pets!  Always keep treats out of reach! If your pet does manage to steal any of your treats, get advice from your vet or if you are unsure, call Animal PoisonLine (APL) who will be able to tell you if your pet needs to go to the vet for treatment.


Zoe Tizzard