Tails from the Crypt: Halloween Pet Emergencies

Oct 29, 2019

Tails from the Crypt: Halloween Pet Emergencies

Halloween should be a night of festivities, but it can turn downright scary if a pet emergency occurs. Each year, pets run away, gorge on toxic treats, and get into all types of mischief. Our Halloween safety guide will help you enjoy the holiday with your pet, while avoiding a trip to the emergency room. 

Pet-Toxic Treats 

Many treats in your Halloween candy dish are toxic to your pet, including:

  • Chocolate — Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, high blood pressure, and cardiac arrhythmias. Dark chocolate contains the highest toxin concentration, but ingestion of a toxic dose of any type of chocolate—other than white chocolate, which is a confection—can cause illness.
  • Xylitol — Sugar-free candy and gum handed out by well-meaning neighbors may contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar in 30 to 90 minutes, or liver failure in the days following ingestion.
  • Raisins — Raisins can cause severe, acute kidney failure that can rapidly progress to death in dogs. Watch especially for chocolate-coated raisins, which can pack a double dose of toxins, and bags of trail mix.

Treats that do not contain toxic ingredients can also cause severe gastrointestinal upset if your pet raids your trick-or-treater’s candy stash. While quickly gobbling down treats, indiscriminate dogs may also ingest candy wrappers that can cause an intestinal obstruction. Store all candy in a high cabinet that your pet cannot reach. 

Tricky Pet Escapes 

When trick-or-treaters come knocking, your pet may slip out through an open door while you are busy handing out candy. Scary costumes, loud noises, and strange visitors may make her nervous enough to bolt, or she may simply take advantage of the chance to run free. As your pet slips out, a closing door can cause injuries such as broken bones, head trauma, or skin lacerations. If she does escape, she could be hit by a car, picked up by a stranger, or become lost. To avoid these scary scenarios, keep your pet on a leash or, better yet, safely tucked away in a back room or her crate with a few favorite toys and treats during beggar’s night. 

Should your pet find her way out of the house despite your best efforts, a microchip is your best chance for a reunion. A microchip is a form of permanent identification that our veterinarian can inject under your pet’s skin with a syringe and needle. Your contact information is registered with the microchip company, and if your lost pet shows up at a shelter, employees can scan her microchip and contact you to pick her up. 

Dangerous Decorations

Candles and jack-o-lanterns can add spooky ambience to your Halloween party, but a boisterous pooch or curious cat can knock them over and cause trouble. Pets can be badly burned by a flame, or the overturned candle could start a devastating house fire. Use realistic-looking battery-operated lights instead of real candles this Halloween to be safe. 

Electric decorations can also pose a hazard if cords are not tucked safely out of reach. Puppies and kittens are more likely to chew on cords, but all pets should be protected from electrical hazards. If your pet chews on a cord, she could be electrocuted or severely burned on her mouth and face. 

Perilous Pet Pranks

Halloween emergencies for dogs and cats

Halloween should be a time for family fun, but in some areas, “mischief night” is celebrated on October 30. On this unofficial holiday, teenagers typically pull silly pranks, such as toilet-papering neighborhood houses. Some darker pranks, however, may involve vandalism and animal abuse or torture. Black cats are often the victims of Halloween or mischief-night pranks, but any animal could be injured or killed. Keep your pet safely inside over the holiday to prevent her from becoming the victim of someone’s sick antics.

Pet Costume Catastrophes 

Dressing Fido up like a witch may be your idea of Halloween fun, but your pet may detest the adornments. If she doesn’t mind wearing a costume, you should still keep these tips in mind:

  • Ensure the costume does not fit tightly around her neck or chest, as this can interfere with breathing.
  • Stay away from costumes with dangling fabric that could trip your pet and cause a nasty fall.
  • Avoid costumes with loose objects that your pet can chew off and ingest. A foreign body can cause a life-threatening obstruction that requires emergency surgery.
  • Never put a mask over your pet’s face. Masks can interfere with vision or breathing, and can lead to an accident if your pet cannot see well.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!