7 Scariest Halloween Pet Hazards

Halloween is the busiest holiday for pet poison-control hotlines. Keep your pet safe. Make sure children know that candy makes animals sick—no sharing with the dog. Other pet dangers to avoid:

1. CHOCOLATE can trigger seizures and disrupt heartbeat in dogs. Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate, with baking chocolate at the top of the danger list. A dog that laps up a stray M&M won’t get sick. But in higher concentrations, chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea, a sign to seek veterinary treatment. Cats are also affected by chocolate but they’re far less likely to eat it, since their taste buds can’t detect sweets.

2. RAISINS are highly toxic to dogs. The same goes for their cousins: grapes, golden raisins, and currants.Poison experts don’t know what dosage is dangerous or which dogs are most vulnerable. Best to keep your dog away from these dangers all year long.

3. SUGAR-FREE mints and gum contains Xylitol, an artificial sweetener which can lead to collapse, seizure, coma, liver failure, and even death. There’s a good chance your trick-or-treaters will bring Xylitol home in their candy bags, so keep the loot out of your pet’s reach. Sugarless breath mints stashed in your purse or coat pocket pose the same hazard.

4. PUMPKINS are best lit with battery-operated candles, which create a realistic flickering flame minus the fire hazard. Cats risk singed paws from batting at candle flames while an excited dog can easily knock over a pumpkin lit by a real candle and start a fire.

A bite of freshly carved pumpkin won’t make your dog sick, but do throw away your jack-o’-lantern before mold and bacteria make it a pet poison hazard. The same goes for smashed pumpkin pieces that linger on streets and sidewalks. Clear them away to avoid exposing your dog to stomach-churning bacteria and mold toxins.

5. CANDY WRAPPERS smell a lot like food to your dog. When swallowed, a candy wrapper can cause serious digestive obstructions and inflammation. If you’re lucky, symptoms will be limited to stomach upset.  But blockages are a common reason for surgery.

6. COSTUMES.  Making the rounds in the neighborhood, keep your pet securely leashed and, if a pet costume is part of your family parade, watch for chewy, dangly, sparkly hazards that your dog might ingest. And don’t obstruct his vision with a mask. Bring outdoor cats inside to keep them safe from mischief-makers.

7.  CROWDS can overexcite a dog and cause him to bolt. At home, secure skittish cats and excitable dogs in a separate room during heavy trick-or-treating hours. Bring your outdoor cats inside to keep them safe from mischief-makers. And, if you haven’t already implanted a microchip in your dog, make a point of doing it before trick-or-treat day. We hope you won’t need it but the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control number is (888) 426.4435.