Bethel Animal Hospital

7680 Bethel Road
Gainesville, GA 30506


Halloween Pet Safety - More Boo Less Boo Hoo

Cat laying in leaves It’s one of my favorite holidays, everyone gets dressed up in their spookiest and we spend a night trick or treating the neighborhood. Unfortunately, we may forget the bowl of candy on the table left by the door or, after an exhausting night out, the kids leave their goody bag accessible to Fido or Kitty. Chocolate toxicity is real, and it kills.

contains two toxic stimulants called methylzanthines: theobromine and caffeine which are found in the cacao seeds. When ingested by pets, these chemicals can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

Signs of toxicity can take several hours to develop. Depending on the pet’s overall health, age, weight, breed, the type of chocolate and amount of chocolate ingested affect how quickly it will take effect.Toxicity is rare in cats due to their finicky palates but there are those cats that are more like dogs who may in the rare instance enjoy a truffle. Owner’s should be concerned if that happens. In dogs these toxins metabolize slower than in people and as a result of the long half-life of theobromine, symptoms can last for days.

If you think your pet ingested chocolate, it is better to be safe than sorry. Contact your veterinarian, after-hours emergency facility or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card).  Locate/keep the packaging so that you can tell your veterinarian or poison control the type of chocolate that was eaten and try to give a close estimate of the amount ingested. Click here to access a Chocolate Toxicity Calculator.

Other hidden dangers are the wrappers and lollipop sticks. They can cause obstructions which produce lethargy, vomiting, decreased appetite and decreased or straining to defecate. So keep an eye out for that too.

Diligence is the only safety net. Secure all sweets away from pets and teach others about the dangers. Nothing can ruin a holiday more than a trip to Emergency in the middle of the night.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Thank you, Ben Franklin for your eternal wisdom.