By LisaBeth Weber
Halloween is a time for costumes, trick-or-treating and parties. It’s also a time for pet safety. Most people know the usual precautions to take for their kids’ well-being when it comes to neighborhood safety and what’s in their candy bag. Of course, you also want to make sure that your pets are safe, too.
When you throw a Halloween party, it’s good to remind your guests not to give “people food” to dogs. If you think your dog may have gotten ahold of some dangerous foods for dogs, whether it was offered or dropped, be on the lookout for symptoms and signs you’ll need to take action.
Veterinarian and professor Dr. Joe Bartges from the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Medical Center at the University of Georgia says, “Common symptoms may be primarily GI upset such as vomiting, diarrhea and not eating.”
He continues, “You should call your veterinarian, and a decision should be made as to whether your pet should be seen. If there are seizures, hyperexcitability, collapse or anything other than vomiting and diarrhea, then your pet should be seen. If there is an emergency clinic close by, take them to be examined and don’t wait.”
The bottom line is to be aware of dangerous foods for dogs so that everyone, including your pup, can have a happy Halloween. Here are nine common Halloween party foods that are also dangerous foods for dogs.
Cupcakes are always popular at parties, but they often contain chocolate, which is a toxic food for dogs. According to Dr. Bartges, chocolate contains compounds such as theobromine that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, seizures and increased heart rate.
“The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is, with baking chocolate being the most toxic of all,” says Dr. Bartges. “As little as 0.1 ounces of baking chocolate per pound of body weight can be toxic to dogs.”
Make sure these treats are well out of reach of your dog. It might be smart to use dog gates to keep your dog separated from the Halloween festivities if children will be eating sweets and cupcakes within reach of your fur friends.
Want something cake-like for your canine that is pet-friendly? Try Pooch Cake Wheat Free Pumpkin Spice Cake Mix—it’s a fun treat to make and serve, and your dog won’t even know it’s not the same treat the other guests are enjoying.
Cookies are too easy for dogs to swipe off a plate, not to mention that they’re loaded with sugar. Susan Blake Davis, pet nutritionist and proprietor of Ask Ariel Pet Nutrition says all sugar is bad for dogs pets and can lead to health problems like diabetes and obesity.
Cookies can also hold hidden dangers like nuts and raisins. Dr. Bartges puts macadamia nuts as one of the most toxic foods for dogs. Macadamia nuts contain an ingredient that is potentially poisonous to dogs, though the exact toxin is unknown. Raisins also fall into the category of dangerous food for dogs. They can cause symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea all the way to kidney failure.
What would a party be without tortilla chips, pretzels and potato chips—the ultimate snack foods? Loaded with salt and carbs, they’re not healthy for pets, so make sure your dog doesn’t get into the chip bowl. If they do, they can get very thirsty, causing vomiting, and excess salt intake can progress to diarrhea, muscle tremors and seizures.
With caramel apples, the apple itself isn’t a dangerous food for dogs, but the core and seeds can be dangerous. The sugar and stickiness in the caramel and the hard candy coating on the apples are not good for your dog’s teeth (or their waistline for that matter), and Davis adds that it causes tooth decay. The stick is also a choking hazard, which Dr. David Gordon of Arch Beach Veterinary Clinic in Laguna Beach, California, says can cause an obstruction or perforation if swallowed whole.
A dirt cup, for those who are unfamiliar, is an ooey-gooey but yummy Halloween treat that mimics a cup of dirt with worms in it. They’re easy to make but contain ingredients that are hazardous to your dog’s health, such as chocolate cookies with vanilla cream fillings, chocolate pudding and gummy worms.
They have a high sugar content as well as chocolate, and the gummy worms may contain xylitol, which is poisonous to dogs. Davis cautions that xylitol can have fast, fatal consequences because it can cause a precipitous drop in blood sugar (acute hypoglycemia) and/or liver failure.
These popular treats, common at Halloween and throughout the year, are a no-go for your pup as they’re filled with sugar.
The cereal by itself is probably not an issue, but Dr. Gordon warns that if your dog gets into the treats, gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea may be the result. Davis adds that sugary treats of any kind aren’t good for pets and suggests that you have dog treats on hand instead.
Another spooky-looking Halloween party treat, these “finger foods” contain lots of sugar and butter, which in general is not a good combo for dogs.
If you’re preparing them around your dog, be careful with ingredients like baking soda. Though not particularly unsafe in baked form, if your dog gets into the baking soda box, it can cause problems.
According to Dr. Gordon, baking soda (especially at higher doses) may contribute significant amounts of sodium and can result in hypernatremia (excess sodium).
Pumpkin itself isn’t bad for dogs, but pumpkin pie contains a lot of sugar. What people don’t always realize is that many pumpkin pie fillings aren’t pure pumpkin. When mixed with the other ingredients and the increased amounts of sugar, it is not a healthy food for dogs.
If you’re set on something pumpkin flavored for your pup on Halloween, try these Halloween-themed treat alternatives to “people food”—Exclusively Dog Smoochers Pumpkin Flavored Yogurt Drops or Holistic Blend Pumpkin Spice Hearts Biscuits.
Yet another Halloween party favorite that looks gross but tastes yummy is the “puking” pumpkin. Guacamole is strategically placed at the mouth of a carved pumpkin face to create the illusion that the pumpkin is puking.
Avocado, (the main guacamole ingredient) is a possible danger to your dog. Dr. Gordon explains that avocados are very high in fat, and they can cause vomiting and diarrhea, not to mention the dangers of ingesting the huge seed. When prepping this fun food, it is important to not let your dog near the avocado—especially the pit, because it can cause an intestinal blockage.
Davis warns that “When [pets are] fed high-fat, high-sugar foods, they can develop severe and even fatal conditions like pancreatitis. Feeding your pet sugary treats comes with consequences.”
Instead, Davis recommends feeding low-carb, high-protein freeze-dried dog food and treats such as Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried Absolutely Rabbit Dog Food or Hare of the Dog Rabbit Jerky Dog Treats.
Dr. Gordon says, “Anything other than dog food can be a problem for any dog. Any time your pet isn’t feeling well, it is always better to call the veterinarian instead of worrying or trying the internet.”