Candy is an obvious hazard during Halloween. Sugary candy can result in an upset stomach and diarrhea, but candies, especially gum, containing the artificial sweetener xylitol are life-threatening.

As little as one stick of gum can cause liver failure and death. Chocolate is also potentially life-threatening to pets. Dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the most toxic types of chocolate. Candy wrappers are also dangerous and can cause GI obstructions. If your pet gets into any Halloween candy, please contact your veterinarian or the local emergency clinic as quickly as possible.

Halloween costumes and decorations can also be frightening to pets. While we may like to dress up, our pets don’t always enjoy it. If putting a costume on your pet, watch for signs of stress, like pinned back ears, panting, restlessness or scratching at the costume. Adults and children dressed in costumes can also be scary to pets. It is advisable to walk pets early before trick-or-treating starts.

Please also keep your pets indoors on Halloween if you are not accompanying them. Dogs can easily become spooked and run away or be hit by a car. It is especially important to keep black cats indoors as superstitions associated with black cats can cause them to be more at risk for pranks or abuse.

If your pet is afraid of doorbells and people coming to the door, you can try decorating your porch with caution tape and leaving out a bowl of candy. This way you look festive without having the doorbell cause your pet undo concern. If you pet tries to run out the door when it is opened, try keeping them in another room with the door closed. You can try giving them a frozen Kong filled with canned dog food for a Halloween treat to keep them busy while they are in the other room. Playing calming music, such as classical music, can also help to drown out Halloween noise and help to soothe a nervous pet. 

Dr. Megan Manzie has been practicing veterinary medicine in the Lake Norman area since 2014. She has a special interest in surgery, clinical pathology and internal medicine. Main Street is a full-service veterinary hospital located at 20306 N. Main St., Cornelius. Details: www.mainstreetveterinary.com

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