Saturday, October 23, 2010

Trick or Treat? Halloween Pet Dangers

Halloween is just around the corner. This means another time when you will be distracted or kids will be around with plenty of treats and toys for your dog and cat to get into. Before you hold any special celebration here are a few tips on things to keep an eye on.

Glow Sticks / Jewelry

I have seen a few of these cases, mostly involving curious cats. The solution usually only causes extreme salivation and erratic behavior all due to the severely unpleasant taste of the product. If you can, carefully rine out your cats mouth or provide canned food or tuna water to help dilute the liquid and improve the taste. This can be difficult to do as the cat may not want to stay still and the danger of being too aggressive with the rinse and accidentally sending the solution into the wind pipe and lungs. You may need to take the cat to your veterinarian to be sedated and have the mouth rinsed. The product can be deadly but only in large quantities as an 8 pound cat that ingests the entire contents of one necklace would consume less than one-tenth the deadly dose. In most cases due to the severely unpleasant taste means that most of the liquid will remain in the necklace. Do remember to wash off any product remaining on your cats fur/paws as they will come into contact with it while grooming themselves and lead to a repeat episode!

Trick or Treaters/Noises/Doorbells/Guests in Costumes

If you know your dog or cat is not good with people or noises it may be best to keep them in a quiet part of the house. This will also prevent unexpected treat giving to your pets. If there will be candles around make sure they are not able to be knocked down by a wagging tail or a curious cat. Difficult to avoid this? Having them board for the night may be the next best step for their safety and your peace of mind.


Bakers chocolate is the worst, milk chocolate may or may not be ok depending on the amount your dog ate and white chocolate is most likely ok. Sings of toxicosis include tremors, nervousness, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures and death. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA poison control if you suspect an ingestion.

Sugar-Free products

If the package has Xylitol listed make sure to keep them away from pets and be VERY concerned if they got into it. Even a tiny amount of a Xylitol containing product can be deadly (read previous post) and you should seek emergency care as soon as you know there was exposure. Most likely your veterinarian will give a medication to make your pet vomit in hopes of decreasing the amount of product left in the stomach for your pet to absorb. A deadly drop in blood sugar levels or even liver failure can occur.


Some of the items may be seen as an attractive new toy for your dog or cat. These could potentially be ingested and cause a trip to the surgery room because of an item causing an intestinal obstruction. If you are putting a costume on your pet make sure that there are no tight fitting straps that may cause circulation problems. Do not allow your pet to be unsupervised while in costume as they may decide to chew it off and potentially swallow pieces of it. Finally, make sure all pieces of the costume are removed, especially any tight fitting bands that could cut off circulation and cause severe swelling of a leg, tail, ear etc.

Outdoor Safety

Make sure to keep your pet on leash and close to you at all times. Unexpected noises or costumes my frighten your pet causing them to react unpexctedly by biting or trying to run away. Having a short leash will allow for better control. Keep a reflective collar, leash or vest on your pet and make sure they have a dog tag and microchip in case they were able to get away.

By following these tips and putting a little extra thought before involving your pets in any Halloween Festivity a great time should be had by all. Next up Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season!

Continuing Education

So you called to make an appointment with your veterinarian and you were told he/she was at a continuing education meeting. Great timing, the dog just started vomiting and having diarrhea again or you woke up to your cat straining in the litter box unable to urinate. You end up making an appointment with one of the other doctors or have to be seen at the other clinic in town. You ask yourself, why does my veterinarian need to go to a meeting? Didnt they go to school already? Is there a problem with their license?

Well, beleive it or not various hours of continuing education are required by law to keep a veterinary license current. Your veterinarian fulfills this requirement by a combination of methods including reading current journal articles on specific topics, going to a local or out of town meeting to attend lectures on specific topics or via an interactive webinar.

For each of these, an expert in the field of that specific topic discusses ways to diagnose or treat the problem being discussed. These experts may be involved in research or have great experience on the topic presented and can share information on a new test or treatment available that is not yet widely known.

Just this past week I spent 3 days listening to experts discussing Liver Diseases, Feline Infectious Diseases and Gastrointestinal Diseases. It wasnt for fun that I stayed for the late-night talk that ended at 8:30 pm discussing liver copper -storage diseases in dogs. There was a case in the hospital that was just diagnosed with this disease and some valuable treatement tips were given during the meeting not yet avaialble in any book or journal! I immediately e-mailed these cutting edge tips to the doctors that stayed at the hospital so they could make sure we had the best chance of helping a very sick Labrador recover.

So the next time you wonder why your veterinarian is not available because of a meeting think about the new information being gained that may allow Fluffy to live a longer, more comfortable and healthier life.