Petplan Pet Insurance’s claims data – consisting of 150,000 insured cats and dogs – reveals that Halloween is one of the most dangerous times of the year for our four-legged family members, as chocolate toxicity emergencies increase by 140% during Halloween week. While it is a scary time for pets’ health, it can be frightening for pet owners’ budgets with the cost for veterinary care related to chocolate ingestion averaging $627 per incident (up almost 20% from last year) and some claims exceeding $3,290!
This year, according to the National Retail Federation, a record number of Americans will be celebrating Halloween, spending over $2.2 billion on candy-related items. However, many pet owners don’t realize as little as one ounce of Baker’s chocolate can poison a 50 pound dog. Therefore, Dr. Jules Benson, Chief Medical Veterinary Officer at Petplan, drafted the below tips to help pet parents keep their pets safe from the most prevalent Halloween pet health hazards:
- Raisins = Risky: Some pet parents prefer to skip candy altogether, opting to hand out raisins to trick-or-treaters instead. While healthier for children, raisins are terribly toxic to pets – especially dogs. Even in small doses, raisin consumption can cause kidney failure in four-legged family members, so treat these treats the same as you would sugary sweets – by keeping them well away from pets.
- Devil Dogs and Bewitched Cats: According to the National Retail Federation, 15.1 percent of pet parents will dress up Fido or Fluffy for the holiday, up from 14.7 percent in 2011. If your furry friend will be going incognito for Halloween, be sure his vision is clear, his movement is unencumbered and that the costume is free of frills that could easily be chewed off and/or swallowed. Remember too that pets can become overheated and dehydrated in their disguises, even in cooler weather.
- Packaging Perils: Even if you’re diligent about keeping candy out of reach of your pet’s prying paws, beware of their wrappers, which can prove horrifyingly hazardous. They can become lodged in your pet’s intestines, causing an obstruction that could require surgery, so keep a lidded trash can handy.
- Dashing for the Door: If you’re expecting lots of ghosts and goblins to ring your doorbell, make sure your pet isn’t tempted to go trick-or-treating with them! Consider setting up a room with water, food, toys and a comfy bed where your pet can stay safe and sound. Also, make sure your pet has a microchip. The tiny chip, implanted easily between your pet’s shoulder blades, will make a reunion much easier if she feels like haunting the neighborhood for a spell.
Dr. Benson has previously worked with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe, New York Post, Associated Press, NBCNews.com, Time.com, ABCNews.com, VetStreet.com, MarketWatch.com, WebMD and a variety of other media outlets as an expert media source.