Pumpkin spice, apple picking, flannel and sweaters, fun costumes and lots of candy, which for the veterinary community means lots of inducing your pets to vomit and providing supportive care for intoxications. While fall can be a picturesque time full of fun and sweets, it can also be one of the most dangerous time of year for your cats and dogs. As we move forward into this holiday seasons, starting with Halloween, there are some fun sized dangers that you and your family should be aware of!
- Chocolate– Most owners are aware of the dangers that chocolate can pose to their dog. Did you know that pending the TYPE of chocolate, the severity of sickness that your pet will experience will vary? Some large breed dogs can ingest a small amount of “Fun Sized” milk chocolate candy bars that have caramel, nougats, or nuts and might not be in too much danger. (Just showing mild gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea). White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate pose the most threat to dogs, each for different reasons. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylzanthines which is a toxic metabolite for dogs, however, contains the highest amount of sugar which can results in pancreatitis (see below). Dark Chocolate has the highest concentration of these methylzanthines, which can cause your dog to pant, vomit, tremor and have dangerously elevated heart rates that are life threatening. If your dog gets into chocolate,contact your local emergency veterinary hospital so they can calculate whether it was a toxic dose or not.Most dogs love the taste of chocolate, and who wouldn’t, so make sure to keep it out of reach on high shelves and in closed cabinets, never hanging out on counters or coffee tables!
- Xylitol – Xylitol is a low-fat artificial sweetener that is found in Air Heads, many fruit candies, many gums like ice breakers, Mentos, many lollipops (suckers if you’re from Ohio), some brands of gummy bears / worms and some brands of peanut butters. Xylitol can cause a dog’s blood sugar to drop dangerously low, inducing seizures and other neurologic activity as well as cause liver failure. If your dogs gets into candy or products that contain xylitol or your think contains xylitol, your pet needs to be seen and most likely hospitalized immediately.
- Raisins– It is in my personal belief that raisins have no place in candy. It also has no place in your dogs or cats mouth. Candies like Raisinetes, Trail Mix, or any chocolate or yogurt covered raisins should never be given to your pet. Frustratingly, we don’t have great primary literature describing the toxic dose of raisins that dogs have to ingest to cause them to become sick. In some dogs, we see no clinical signs. In others, we see complete renal failure and death. If your dog gets into raisins, have them seen immediately.
- Pancreatitis–The pancreas is very sensitive and when dogs or cats eat fatty, sugary or other things they shouldn’t, this organ can become inflamed. Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, which is an organ that lives on the outflow tract of the stomach. Pancreatitis has a range of clinical signs that vary in severity. These include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. These signs can look like upset stomach, inflammatory bowel disease or gastrointestinal obstruction as well so diagnostics will need to be performed to help determine if your pet does have pancreatitis or some other syndrome, or both. Often times, pets require hospitalization with supportive IV fluids, anti-nausea medications, anti-diarrheal medications, and pain control to get them through these episodes. If not addressed your pet can become very sick.