Around Halloween our houses may be full of various candies. Many of these sweet treats can be harmful if ingested by dogs and cats in our household. We are going to overview a few of the most common toxins, why they are toxic, and side effects. If you know or are suspicious your pet ate a toxic substance- acting quickly is key! Please call your veterinarian or ASPCA Poison Control (888-426-4435) for immediate guidance on care.
The toxic component of chocolate is called methylxanthine- specifically caffeine and theobromine. The levels of this toxin depend on the type of chocolate. For example, milk chocolate contains less toxin than dark chocolate. Toxicity depends on what type of chocolate your pet ate along with their size. The side effects when mild can include vomiting, hyperactivity and diarrhea. In more severe cases we can see tremors or seizures. This toxin is a risk to both dogs and cats.
Xylitol is a common sugar substitute we see in candies or other household snacks. Although humans can ingest it safely, if a dog eats xylitol it can cause dangerously low blood sugar levels. At very high quantities it may induce liver failure. Side effects may include: vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, seizures or coma. This toxin is a risk to dogs; however, cats do not demonstrate the same sensitivity.
The exact mechanism of raisin toxicity is unknown at this time. The toxic dose is not well established either- even one raisin may be harmful. The biggest concern with raisin (or grape!) ingestion is kidney failure. Initial clinical signs may include: vomiting, diarrhea. abdominal pain, and lethargy. Within a few days we may see increased thirst, increased urination, and weakness. This toxin is a risk to both dogs and cats.
This upcoming holiday make sure to keep bowls of candy on high surfaces, in closed containers or in the pantry. Wishing you and your pets a safe and Happy Halloween!
Cynthia Rogers, DVM