0 comments / Posted by Lindsay Pevny

Halloween can be truly scary for dogs. Over the week of Halloween, the Pet Poison Helpline receives an increase in calls by 12% - and shelters see a significant uptick in lost pets. 

Halloween safety hazards do not have to ruin your holiday. Plan ahead, and you'll keep your dog safe from these five things:

1. Chocolate

You have probably heard that chocolate is bad for dogs, but have you ever wondered why?

Theobromine, a chemical compound found in chocolate, dilates the blood vessels and acts as a stimulant, causing the heart to speed up. Chocolate also contains a small amount of caffeine, which has similar effects.

Chocolate can cause restlessness, muscle tremors, hyperactivity, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea - even death - in dogs. 

The darker the chocolate, the more pure cocoa it contains. Small dogs under 30 pounds can get severely ill from just one ounce of dark chocolate. Larger dogs can eat more without getting sick. PetMD has a chocolate toxicity calculator that can help you figure out if your dog may have eaten a dangerous amount. However, if you have any doubt about the amount of chocolate your dog has eaten, rush to the emergency vet. 

2. Raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. Even small amounts can cause severe side effects. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and anuria (your dog will be unable to urinate). 

3. Xylitol (Sugar-free Sweetener)

Xylitol is even more dangerous to dogs than chocolate or raisins. It's found in sugar-free gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, and even certain brands of peanut butter, and it doesn't take much to kill even a large dog. The chemical causes liver failure and dangerously low blood sugar, causing death in as little as a few hours. 

It's difficult to figure out how much xylitol a product contains. Always read the label if you purchase peanut butter you intend to share with your dog. 

4. Anything your dog can get his/her mouth on

All Halloween candy and cookies should be kept very away from your dog. No human Halloween treats are dog-safe. 

Halloween decorations and costumes tend to have beads and small parts that you dog could chew off and choke on or cause internal bleeding. 

5. Scary costumes and open doors

If you live in a neighborhood full of kids, you'll probably spend most of the evening opening your door to a host of scary creatures. Many kids do not realize how scary Halloween can be for dogs, and may scream or chase your dog to see their reaction. 

It's best to keep your dog in a safe place like a crate, in a quiet room or behind a baby gate. 

Be sure to keep your dog's IDs up-to-date. Halloween is a great time to make sure your dog's collar tags have your latest phone number and address. Your dog should be microchipped in case they get lost without their collar. Take a photo of your dog so you will have a recent photo available just in case they get lost and you need to make photos and online postings to find them. 

Also locate your nearest emergency vet, add their phone number to your Contacts list and their address to your GPS, so if anything does happen, you'll get your dog treated without delay. 

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