Halloween Safety for your Labrador and Dogs
Halloween is almost here! If you’re like most people this holiday elicits thoughts of kids (and pets!) dressed up in costumes going door to door for candy handouts, haunted houses, and perhaps a pumpkin or party or two. If you’re like most vets, you may think of all of the problems that come along with all that candy and fun… and we’re not thinking just the sugar high and eventual carb coma! The good news is that some simple planning and good common sense can keep your Labby healthy and happy this holiday.
We all know that Labradors LOVE food and most will get into just about anything. So, keeping candy and other holiday foods out of reach is the simplest way to avoid toxicities. The two most common toxin’s ingested this time of year include chocolate, raisins, and xylitol.
Candies and Treats to Avoid
Chocolate contains theobromine, which is what makes it toxic to our labs. As a rule of thumb, the “darker” the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Therefore, a smaller amount of dark or bakers chocolate is as toxic as a larger amount of milk chocolate. In low doses, theobromine causes GI upset (vomiting and diarrhea), but at higher doses, it can cause seizures, heart arrhythmias, and eventually coma and death.
Raisins (and grapes) might be a healthy snack for kids, but they can be very toxic to your Labby’s kidneys. There is no toxic dose, meaning that we worry about dogs eating even just a few. The toxicity seems to be dog specific; while 2-3 raisins may not affect one dog, it could be very toxic to another.
Candy (and wrappers!) in general can cause gastroenteritis (commonly referred to as “garbage gut” or just plain old vomiting and diarrhea), and even pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
If you suspect that your Lab ate any of these toxins, getting them to the vet ASAP could mean the different between life and death. Waiting until you see signs of toxicity may cause irreparable damage to vital organs.
At your vet, vomiting can be induced within the first couple hours, and activated charcoal can be given orally to prevent further absorption of toxins. Your vet may also keep him or her for IV fluids to help “flush out” these toxins and to observe your pet for clinical signs.
It is not just the Treats that can be Dangerous
On anther note, other holiday hazards include stress, costumes, and poisonings.
We may think all those children are ringing our doorbell all night is fun, but it can be stressful and even potentially dangerous for our Labradors. Dogs escaping through frequently opened doors are at risk for being hit by those cars driving children around in the dark. The best thing to do is to leash your Lab or consider putting him or her in a quiet room away from all that ruckus.
Costumes can be fun, when comfortable and safe for your Labrador. Make sure that you don’t use dyes or paint that can be toxic, and that they are not restrictive to the normal walking motion. Many dogs love the extra attention that comes with getting all dressed up!
Finally, we always hear stories of cruel poisonings around Halloween, however, true these stories are or aren’t, I think a healthy dose of caution is never a bad idea. Keep your pets inside and safe this Halloween!
Happy Halloween Everyone!!!
STAY FRESH DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Dr. Erin Hernandez Horner, DVM graduated from the University of Georgia in 2004 and then went on to obtain her DVM in 2008. She is currently an associate veterinarian at Brookhaven Animal Hospital [line-sep]