Trick or Treat: Treats your Pets Should Avoid

It’s spooky season! And this means that many of us will have some extra treats (for ourselves) lying around. But how can we safely include our fur family in all the fun?

Halloween candy is delicious, and Trick-or-Treating can be fun for the whole family – so here we break down some “treats” to beware of!

  1. Chocolate

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is very dangerous for cats and dogs when consumed. Keep any chocolate-based treats out of reach from your pets. There are multiple components to chocolate that make it hazardous for our fur family. Caffeine is found in chocolate and, when consumed by dogs and cats, can cause rapid breathing, muscle tremors, and heart palpitations. Similar symptoms and more serious symptoms, including seizures and cardiac issues, can arise from the theobromine content of chocolate. 

2. Xylitol

Sugarless candies (and essential oils, mints, and baked goods) might seem like a good treat idea for your pets, but beware! These candies use xylitol to sweeten them up – and xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Within 10 to 15 minutes after consumption, dogs can start to experience symptoms such as hypoglycemia and liver failure. Less information is available for our feline-friends though these should still be avoided in cats. 

3. Halloween-Themed Cocktails (Alcohol)

Spooky-themed cocktails can really turn your Halloween party into a super fun Monster-Mash! However, your pets should not be part of this fun. Alcohol poisoning in cats and dogs results in lowered blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar levels. In fact cats can experience liver damage and brain damage in response to alcohol poisoning. Other signs can include confusion, clumsy and staggered movements, and vomiting. Any garnishes used for cocktails may also pose a risk. 

4. Halloween Decorations

Many decorations used for Halloween can easily be snatched up and consumed by our pets. Try to use decorations that can’t be easily taken down by your pup or kitty, or keep them strategically out of reach. Certain decorations can cause obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, your pets may have severe vomiting, may be dehydrated, and ultimately may require surgery (which can be pricey) if the items cannot be passed on their own. 

5. Overeating

Coincidentally, Halloween wraps up Pet Obesity Month (October). So here is your reminder that treats should all be fed in moderation and as part of a complete and balanced diet. Treats should not exceed more than 10 % of your pets’ daily calorie intake. Too many treats can cause gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, stomach pains, diarrhea, pancreatitis, and in the long-term can cause obesity and other serious health consequences. 

Let’s keep the scares at the haunted houses and not our own homes! Stick to treats that your pet will love and can be fed as a complete and balanced diet. 

For more information on toxic foods/items or what to do in an emergency, we have provided some resources below:

  1. Pet Poison Helpline| 855-764-7661 | www.petpoisonhelpline.com | Available 24-hours (Canada, US, Caribbean)
  2. Animal Poison Control Center | 888-426-4435 | www.aspca.org
  3. US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) | www.fda.gov
  4. Chocolate Toxicity Calculator (Includes other toxic foods)www.vetcalculators.com
  5. Your Veterinarian

For questions about how to best provide treats for your pets, contact our qualified in-house animal nutritionist (hannah@tomandsawyer.com) or your local veterinarian. 

Article written by

Hannah Godfrey
BSc H | MSc | Phd Student in Animal Nutrition
Tom&Sawyer Client Ambassador & Animal Nutritionist