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Halloween Horrors: how to stay out of the veterinary clinic

October 16, 2012 2 comments

As the second biggest decorating holiday of the year approaches its important to not forget about our furry family and keep them safe.  Dangers lurk behind every hay bale and corn stalk  for our four legged friends.  The trick to keeping fur kids safe includes keeping them away from the treats.

Don’t let these dangers raise any hairs at your house this Halloween:Cat jack-o-lantern

  1. Xylitol
  2. packaging
  3. and chocolate

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often used in “sugar free” products.  While no candy is good for pets, candies containing xylitol can be deadly.  If your pet ingests Xylitol, grab the wrapper, bring it and your pet to your local veterinary clinic.  The sooner you get to the clinic, the better.  Do not assume you should induce vomiting.  If you are unable to get to a veterinarian immediately, call an animal poison hotline (there is usually a fee for this call.)

Maybe the underdog and therefore most dangerous on our list is the packaging.  Foil wrappers seem small and easily passed thru the system.  In the super sensitive turns and twist of the GI tract, foil can be razor sharp causing life-threatening damage.  Don’t let other wrapper types fool you; these foreign bodies can build up together causing blockages and serious medical consequences.

One of the biggest and most debated dangers is chocolate.  In the past, the dangers of chocolate were widely broadcast from the veterinary community.  In more recent years, the vets have been assuring us that while we never want to feed our dogs and cats chocolate, perhaps we don’t have to rush into the emergency clinic for getting into the kid’s backpack.  So how much is too much?

According to Kevin Fitzgerald, PhD, DVM, DACVP, 20 ounces of milk chocolate, 10 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, and just 2.25 ounces of baking chocolate could potentially kill a 22-pound dog

Below is an excerpt from the Merck Veterinary Manual containing the approximate levels of Theobromine in chocolate products.  Theobromine is the most toxic component in chocolate for our pets.

Theobromine levels in different types of chocolate:
From The Merck Veterinary Manual

  • Dry cocoa powder = 800 mg/oz
  • Unsweetened (Baker’s) chocolate = 450 mg/oz
  • Cocoa bean mulch = 255 mg/oz
  • semisweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate is = 150-160 mg/oz
  • Milk chocolate = 44-64 mg Theobromine per oz chocolate
  • White chocolate contains an insignificant source of methylxanthines.

Reference: ASPCA Poison hotline, (888) 426-4435.

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