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Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe This Halloween

By: Dr. Liz Bales

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Halloween is a night of tricks and treats…and trouble for dogs. Many of us have heard that chocolate is dangerous for dogs.  While this is true, there’s more dangers to Halloween than what’s inside of your fun-sized candy bars. I am here to help you keep this fun night from becoming a horror movie for you and your dog.

Chocolate – Most people have heard that chocolate is toxic to dogs.  It can cause symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to deadly heart arrythmias. But, how can you tell how much trouble your dog is in after you find the trick or treat bag and the chewed chocolate wrappers strewn all over the floor?  The toxins in chocolate come from the coco itself and the amount that is dangerous to your dog will depend on the size of your dog and the quantity of coco that your dog consumed. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate have lots of coco.  Milk chocolate and candy bars do not have that much actual coco in them. If you find that your dog has gotten into the chocolate, immediately call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680.  Early treatment will be cheaper, easier and is the most likely to have a good outcome.

Sugar free candy – Xylitol is a common substitute for sugar in sugar free candy and gum. While xylitol is safe for humans, it is extremely dangerous for dogs. Even tiny amounts can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure and can kill your dog. Xylitol worries me so much, I won’t allow my kids to bring sugar free gum into our house. I recommend going through the candy bags and removing any products containing xylitol and storing them in a high cabinet. If you find that your dog has consumed xylitol, call your veterinarian and seek emergency care immediately.

Glow sticks – We use glow sticks to keep our kids safe from cars on Halloween. Some people even put them around their dog’s neck to add to the festivities. Here’s the good news, if your dog chews up the glow stick they are most likely going to be ok. Glow sticks contain a bitter tasting liquid called dibutyl phthalate. This bad tasting goop can cause your dog to drool profusely. Offer your dog plenty of clean water and wash them off to make sure there is no more glow stick liquid in their fur that will be licked off later.

Corn on the Cob Decorations – Somehow, corn cob is an irresistible treat to many dogs. Unfortunately, the cob does not digest in the stomach and tends to try to pass through in the whole chunk that your dog bit off.  These cob chunks are often just the right size to get stuck in the way through and the course surface of the cob acts like sandpaper on the sensitive surface of the intestines. Surgery may be required to remove the offending cob.

Lost Dogs – Halloween is a night of opening doors and gates. In a quick second, your dog can get out and become lost. Before the big night, update the identifying info for your dog – like collar tags and microchip info. Consider making a dog safe room where your dog can spend the evening safe and sound.  Pick a room far away from the ringing doorbell and add a radio or tv with your dog’s favorite programming to drown out the night’s noise and a cozy bed to snuggle in – and remove the possibility of your dog sneaking out.

Have a great and safe Halloween!

Wags and Purrs!
Dr. Liz Bales

Written by Dr. Liz Bales, who we are excited to announce will be collaborating with Modern Dog for all things dog health-related, stay tuned!

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine graduate, Dr. Liz Bales, has only ever wanted to be a veterinarian. She has such a passion for her job, that she says if she weren’t a vet, she would be studying to become one. She loves “helping pets and the people who love them be happy and healthy!  Helping people translate complicated medical information into practical tips on how to care for, and connect with their pets is the best part of her job” Not just a veterinarian, Dr. Bales shares her passion through writing, giving speeches, and appearing on shows such as Fox and Friends, ABC News, and Cheddar. She has even started her own company, Doc and Phoebe, and invented a revolutionary cat product—the Indoor Hunting Feeder.

Dr. Bales’ favorite quote reflects her love and compassion for animals: “When a human dies there is a bridge they must cross to enter into Heaven. At the head of the bridge waits every animal that human encountered during their lifetime. The animals, based on what they know of this person, decide which humans may cross the bridge…and which are turned away.” With this in mind, Dr. Bales tries to live every day by her grandfather’s advice: “These days are precious. Don’t waste them.”


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By: Dr. Liz Bales
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