More pets get food poisoning the week of Halloween than any other time of year, and chocolate is a top offender.
Food poisoning among animals is 32 percent more likely during Halloween week than any other time of the year. But it’s not just candy to look out for, according to pet insurance company Petplan – costumes and creepy decor can also cause health issues.
Most pet parents know the theobromine in chocolate is a threat to pets, but not all realize the candy can affect pets in different ways. The type of chocolate, how much a pet eats and the pet’s weight are all factors in how severely toxic candy can be.
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To calculate your pet’s risk: multiply the ounces ingested by the milligrams of theobromine per ounce (which is based on the type of chocolate) and divide that number by the pet’s weight. The closer the resulting number is to 20, the worse the toxic effects will be.
Milligrams of theobromine per ounce of chocolate:
▪ Baker’s chocolate: 450 mg
▪ Dark chocolate: 160 mg
▪ Milk chocolate: 64 mg
▪ White chocolate: 1 mg
“Even if a pet is not in the danger zone, the sugar and dairy will likely have GI effects, like vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity or lethargy,” said Jennifer Maniet, Petplan staff veterinarian. “These issues can be serious all on their own, so it’s best to visit the vet when a furry friend gets into mischief.”
A toxic level of theobromine is about 15 mg or more per pound your pet weighs. Get to the vet or emergency clinic immediately, if this is the case.
Large amounts of sugar and dairy can cause vomiting and diarrhea and hyperactivity or lethargy can both occur. If symptoms become serious or persistent, get to the vet.
Food poisoning trips to the vet can cost an average of $830, according to Petplan.
Foreign object ingestion
When considering dressing your pet in a costume, make sure he or she can see clearly, move freely and that the costume is free of frills, tassels or other bits that can be chewed off and swallowed. If it’s warm outside, be careful when considering a costume, since pets can overheat and become dehydrated.
“And remember: if a dog feels too constricted in his costume, ditch the threads and take him trick or treating in his one-of-a-kind, no-assembly-required dog suit,” Maniet said.
Foreign object ingestions are consistently in the top 10 claims submitted to Petplan each year and cost an average of $1,872 to treat.
Cobwebs, skeletons and scary noises make for good Halloween ambiance, but can be a problem for pets.
“Avoid using decorations that move or make noise, and think twice before putting up human-like figures that can intimidate pets,” Maniet said. “The hustle and bustle of doorbells ringing and strangers approaching can be frightening enough for some furry friends—adding to the anxiety with alarming adornments will only make their fear worse.”
Anxiety-related issues cost an average of $394 to treat, while ailments stemming from an anxious moment can result in fractures ($1,175), bite wounds from other pets ($947) and lacerations/cuts ($641), among others.
“Every year our veterinarians speak out about the dangers of chocolate, candy wrappers, costumes and the like—and for good reason,” said Natasha Ashton, co-founder and co-CEO of Petplan. “With average costs to treat some of these conditions well over a thousand dollars, a simple mishap can be costlier than you’d ever imagine. Don’t forget to consider furry friends when planning Halloween fun.”