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Why Halloween candy and pets don't mix

Why Halloween candy and pets don't mix
All About Animals

POSTED: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 12:04pm

Halloween is about all things scary, but you don't want to give your pet a health scare! Jocelyn Lockwood has a warning from our NOLA Pet Doctors!

While you're busy eating your candy, pay attention: it's much more frightening if your pup gets into your candy stash.

Chocolate is not a sweet treat for dogs we know, but why?

"It's really the components of chocolate caffeine and another component, Theobromine, that causes the toxcicidty," says Dr. Kenneth Ransom from Southeast Veterinary Specialists.

Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant. Modern medicine uses it for humans as a natural vasodilator, a diuretic and a heart stimulant, but in high doses - especially in dogs - it's dangerous.

"You can see anything from cardiac abnormalities, muscle tremors, excitation," explains Dr. Ransom. "A lot of things similar to what you would expect if you had a few too many cups of coffee in the morning."

Dogs and cats metabolize theobromine much more slowly than humans, meaning a 20 minute buzz for you translates into hours of potential complications for your pet.

"Cardiac issues really come into play and they can have increased heart rates to the point where they develop arythmias," according to Dr. Ransom. "So dogs that come in with toxic exposure we have to monitor that pretty closely and treat if indicated."

While you should keep all chocolate away from your dog, it's the dark chocolate that poses the most danger.

"Your run of the mill milk chocolate is going to have a lot less than say bakers chocolate. That stuff, it doesn't take a lot especially in a smaller dog to be deadly."

So what if Fido does make off with just one of those prized Halloween treats?

"Probably going to be ok. If anything, it may cause some GI disturbances, some vomiting or lose stool. A large breed dog - a 70 or 80 pound dog - that eats a Halloween size Twix is probably going to be ok."

Still, use your best judgment and call your vet if something frightening does happen this Halloween.

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