Keeping Our Pets Safe: Halloween Hazards


Halloween is one of the most popular holidays of the year – with candy, costumes, and scary movies, what’s not to love? Unfortunately for pets, there are dangers associated with Halloween activities. Our friends at the Pet Poison Helpline™ indicated they saw an increase in call volumes by 21 percent in the week surrounding Halloween in 2011. According to Ahna Brutlag, DVM, assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline, a lot of the cases involved dogs who had ingested candy, mainly chocolate.  They’ve provided a list of things to watch for. If your pet accidently ingests any of these, the experts at Pet Poison Helpline recommend taking them to get treatment immediately at a vet or emergency clinic, versus waiting for symptoms to show.

Top Halloween Hazards

Chocolate – 

Chocolate is the Halloween treat that is most hazardous to dogs. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. While Milk and white chocolate pose less of a threat, they should still be kept out of reach of pets. If a dog has ingested chocolate, they may show symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in extreme cases, seizures.

Overindulgence of candy and sweets –

Eating too much candy can make anyone feel ill, but for our pets the consequences can be quite dangerous. Candies that contain xylitol can be poisonous to our pets, and a general overindulgence of sweets can cause pancreatitis, the inflammation of the pancreas, which is not only very painful but is also potentially fatal.

Raisins –

While raisins may seem like the healthy alternative as far as Halloween treats go, they are actually extremely poisonous for dogs, and should be treated with the same level of caution as chocolate. Even ingesting a small amount of raisins, or other products with grapes and currants, can result in kidney failure.

Candy wrappers –

Candy wrappers can be just as dangerous as the candy itself. Indigestion of foil and cellophane can lead to severe bowl obstruction, which can be life-threatening and require surgery to correct. Symptoms include vomiting, decreased appetite, not defecating, straining to defecate, or lethargy. 

Glow sticks and glow jewelry –

Glow sticks and jewelry are bright and fun to chew, making them attractive to pets, particularly cats. Although the contents are not normally life-threatening, they can cause mouth pain and irritation, and severe drooling and foaming. A tasty snack can help to cleanse the mouth, and a nice bath will prevent the chemicals from soaking into the fur.

Pet costumes –

If you are dressing up your pet, be aware of the materials that make up their costume. Keep an eye out for small pieces and those that may contain lead and zinc, as they can be poisonous to pets. It is important that the costume doesn’t constrain your dog or cat, impairing their vision, movement, or air intake. If you are going to dye your pet’s fur, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian first to prevent using a hazardous product.

Candles -

Halloween is an exciting time for everyone - keep candles out of your pet’s reach to prevent burns and injuries caused from accidentally bumping into or knocking lit candles over. 

Resources: Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control center based out of Minneapolis, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals that require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. The staff provides treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s fee of $39.00 per incident includes follow-up consultations for the duration of the poison case. Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at