This time of year is filled with spooks and frights, but nothing sends a chill down our spine quite like the thought of our sweet pooches raiding the Halloween candy stash. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty common occurrence throughout the weeks surrounding Halloween; so much so that calls to the Pet Poison Helpline increase by about 12%. Our resourceful canines are keen problem-solvers who will stop at almost nothing to get whatever piques their interest- and candy is a mighty strong temptation.
So, what should you do if you find yourself in this situation? We always advocate for calling your veterinarian anytime an emergency or health concern arises and finding your dog snout-deep in a candy dish certainly constitutes such a situation. Don’t delay, call your vet immediately. According to our very own Dr. Olaf Hansen, the more information you can provide to your veterinarian, the better shot they have at helping your canine companion. Expect to answer the following three questions when you call your vet.
What did your dog consume?
By now we all know that chocolate is particularly dangerous, but it’s not the only sugary threat. Dogs’ digestive systems weren’t made to handle fat and sugar in high doses and if your pup goes on a Halloween candy bender, that’s exactly what he’ll be getting. Even sugar-free candy poses a risk as xylitol (a sweetener used in sugar-free foods) is extremely dangerous for dogs, potentially causing hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure, or even death.
How much did your dog eat?
You’ll need to gauge this based on the amount that is missing, not by counting candy wrappers. An eager dog riding a sugar high isn’t going to be terribly discerning when it comes to what they put in their mouths; some of the candy wrappers are probably being consumed also (which poses a different digestive risk in itself). “Your vet will want to know approximately how much candy your dog consumed so they can gauge their potential toxicity levels and determine the best course of action,” said Dr. Hansen.
What symptoms are they presenting with?
If you caught your canine as the candy heist was in progress, it’s likely that they won’t have any symptoms yet, but they could be coming shortly. Signs of possible toxicity include panting, diarrhea, vomiting, agitation, increased thirst, decreased appetite, lethargy, elevated heart rate, and even seizures. If you didn’t catch your dog in the act but suspect that they may have consumed some candy, keep a close eye on them. According to Dr. Hansen, some dogs may not show any symptoms right away, so it’s important to pay close attention to any symptom(s) that might appear later.
It can be scary to think about something like this happening to your dog, but take comfort in knowing that with some vigilance and awareness, it is completely preventable. Always keep your candy in a place your pup can’t reach. Upper cabinets or pantries with doors that shut securely are typically safe bets, and you could go a step further and keep it in a container with a secure lid, for additional peace of mind.
We hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween! (Psst… if you want to celebrate Halloween with a special treat that won’t cause your dog harm, check out our Pupcake recipes!)