Wednesday, December 7, 2022


Halloween horrors! Beware of pets and chocolate


Halloween and the Fourth of July are the busiest times in the veterinary ER clinic, and Halloween is just around the corner. It can be a scary and dangerous time for pets.

What are some of the things you should be aware of to prevent a costly trip to the emergency clinic?

Pets and chocolate

Chocolate is like cocaine to pets and can be deadly if enough is consumed. Baking (unsweetened) and dark chocolate are much more dangerous than milk or white chocolate. A big dog would need to eat a lot of milk chocolate to get sick, but if he eats a bar of baking chocolate he could die. Symptoms occur within 6 to 12 hours of ingestion. They begin with vomiting, drinking excessively, diarrhea, and restlessness. It progresses to hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, hyperthermia and coma. Death is caused by heart arrhythmia and respiratory failure.

Here are some guidelines to help you determine if you should rush Buddy to the ER:

A small dog (5 lb.) can eat 1 ounce of milk chocolate but not 3 ounces. Even 1 ounce of dark chocolate in a small dog can be dangerous.

A medium dog (10 lb.) would need to eat about 3 ounces of milk chocolate to get sick, and can tolerate 1 ounce but not 2 ounces of dark chocolate.

A big dog (35 lb.+) can gobble up to 8 ounces of milk chocolate, but when he gets to 10 ounces, take him to the emergency room. He will be in danger if he eats more than 4 ounces of dark chocolate.

For any pets, almost any amount of semi-sweet or baking chocolate is dangerous.

Cats are not known to be chocolate eaters, but this is the one time you should consider a cat as a small dog.

Just to give you perspective: a Hershey bar of milk chocolate is 1.6 ounce. So one of these is dangerous to a small dog. A bag of Ghirardelli’s semi-sweet chips (more dangerous than dark) is 12 ounces, so is very dangerous if partially consumed by even a big dog. Many of the popular candy bars don’t have much chocolate in them and most of it is milk, but those designer chocolate bars with 78 percent cacao (or higher) are very toxic.

If you aren’t sure, take your dog (or cat) to the emergency clinic.


In Canada, where I lived for many years, Halloween was the time for home fireworks. Like lightning, fireworks can induce extreme terror in many dogs, causing them to flee in terror through gates and over fences. In the confined space of a camper, they could do some damage to the camper, you, and themselves.

If your dog is frightened of lightning and fireworks, please make sure they are secure and cannot get loose. If at home, bring the dog inside. A mild sedative is often very helpful during holiday festivities and major lightning storms.

UFO in his Halloween costume

Cats, too, are at risk during this time. I won’t go into what I’ve seen during my shifts at the ER. But I implore everyone to keep their cats, especially black cats, inside your house and RV. I recommend confining them to an inside room away from the front door during trick-or-treating. The doorbell ringing and the sound of strange people may terrify your kitty.

Enjoy this glorious autumn – and keep your pets safe.

Ask the Pet Vet

Fido feeling under the weather? Fifi been having some tummy troubles? Worried about ticks? What’s better, wet food or dry food? Wondering how to clip your pet’s nails? Ask veterinarian Dr. Karel Carnohan your questions. Please include a description of your pet’s issue or a question you’re curious about. Upload a photo of your pet if you choose. Dr. Karel will do her best to answer your questions.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.


ASPCA: People foods to avoid feeding your pets


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