Chocolate and sweets may be found in abundance around your home
at this time of year, and although these may be a treat for us
humans, they can make our canine companions very unwell.
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is
poisonous to dogs, as well as other animals such as cats, rodents
and rabbits. Generally speaking, the darker and more expensive the
chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and therefore the more
poisonous it is. White chocolate contains very little
theobromine and so is unlikely to cause chocolate poisoning, but is
still very fatty and can make your dog ill.
Chocolate can initially cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but is a
stimulant and so can cause your dog to become excitable, as well as
develop muscle twitching, tremors, fitting and life threatening
problems with their heart.
If available in large quantities some dogs may gorge themselves
on sugary sweets kept aside for, or collected by,
trick-or-treaters. After eating lots of sugar, or even lots
of fat, dogs can develop pancreatitis (an inflammation of the
pancreas), which may cause them to be off their food, develop
vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and go into organ failure.
Some sugar-free sweets and chewing gums contain an artificial
sweetener called xylitol, which can be very poisonous to dogs.
Xylitol is more commonly found in food products in America, but is
beginning to appear in sugar-free products in the UK as well.
Xylitol can cause an otherwise healthy dog's blood sugar level to
drop to dangerous levels and can also cause liver failure.
If eaten, sweet wrappers, lollipop sticks, food containers/
boxes, or even small parts from a Halloween costume can all cause
an obstruction in your dog's gut. This can be very dangerous
and may require surgical intervention. Signs of an
obstruction may include your dog being off their food, vomiting,
lethargy and not defecating or finding it difficult to
What to do if your dog has eaten chocolate, lots of sweets or
items which could cause an obstruction?
- Consult your local veterinary practice immediately
- It is important that your veterinary practice make an informed
decision as to whether your dog needs to be clinically assessed or
treated. Where possible ensure that you tell them:
- What your dog has eaten
- How much has been eaten
- When it was eaten
- Do not try and make your dog sick- trying to do this can
sometimes cause other complications, which can make your dog
Keep candlelit carved pumpkins out of the way of waggy tails and
nosey noses. A knocked over candle may cause your dog to
become burnt, or may in turn cause a house fire. Keep all
candles, and all candlelit pumpkins, out of the way of your
dogs. Place any lit items on surfaces that are not likely to
reached or jolted by your dog.
Frequent calls at the door from costumed trick-or-treaters may
make your dog anxious or stressed. Think about how your dog is when
you usually have visitors at the door, and take extra precautions
to keep your dog calm and in a quiet and safe place throughout the
evening. Masks and costumes can cause even the most familiar
people to look and smell different to a dog, so if going out
trick-or-treating you may wish to leave your dog at