Every year it happens—dogs across the United States get into Halloween candy. Whether it is on the night of Halloween or days afterward, this situation can be very serious. Most candy is not okay for dogs to eat, as it usually contains chocolate and other ingredients that dogs should not consume. Therefore, if your dog eats Halloween candy, there are several steps you should take right away.
Depending on your dog’s symptoms and what they ate, you may need to visit a vet to ensure that your canine gets proper treatment. Sometimes, the symptoms of poisoning can take hours to take into effect. However, by that point, it may be much harder to treat your pet.
Therefore, a “wait and see” approach isn’t advised.
What Do I Do If Your Dog Eats Halloween Candy
1. Figure Out What Was Eaten
Your first step is to figure out what, when and how much your dog ate. Sometimes, this isn’t possible but do try. Often, in Halloween candy, a bunch of different types of candy are mixed together. Some of these may be practically harmless, while others may be very serious such as xylitol and dark chocolate. Your veterinarian can make more accurate recommendations if they know what they are dealing with. Therefore, it is vital that you figure out what the dog has consumed, how much and when, if at all possible.
Sometimes, you may find pieces of wrappers that allow you to determine what the dog has eaten. Other times, if you caught the dog in the act, you may have seen a glimpse of what they were eating.
2. Keep Your Dog Close
If your dog has eaten candy, you want to be able to notice any changes in behavior or symptoms. Therefore, your best bet is to keep them close while you follow the next few steps. If you notice any symptoms, including lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea or trembling, then you should call an emergency vet line.
Once your dog starts showing symptoms, it usually means that treatment is needed. If your dog starts showing symptoms quickly after consuming a piece of candy, then treatment is even more likely. Most effects usually take a few hours to become apparent.
We highly recommend having your dog close by so that you don’t miss any serious symptoms.
3. Call Pet Poison Control
Once you have some idea of what the dog has eaten, you should call pet poison control or your veterinary practice. This is important for information on exactly what the dog has eaten and its possible effects. This poison control line or vet will provide information and let you know what your next step should be.
Because Halloween candy varies so widely, what you need to do also varies widely. Therefore, calling a healthcare professional is your best option.
In this way, you can get information about whether or not you need to seek attention. If you are calling after hours, you may need to contact an emergency line.
4. Keep Your Dog Comfortable
Now is not the time to try out that new hiking trail or otherwise put any stress on your dog’s bodies. It is vital that you keep them comfortable. Provide water to keep them hydrated, as many adverse reactions lead to dehydration. In many cases, it is the dehydration that leads to issues—not just the toxin your dog has consumed.
5. Visit a Vet
In some cases, you may need to visit a vet. Sometimes, the symptoms of the poisoning caused by the candy may need treatment. The toxins usually found in candy such as xylitol and theobromine in chocolate don’t have an anti-dote. The animals need to be supported and further complications prevented while they work through your dog’s system. Examples of treatments include IV fluids to prevent dehydration and medication to stop vomiting or seizures.
Often, this supportive care is why your dog needs to visit the vet.
However, just because your dog has broken into your Halloween candy doesn’t mean that you’ll need to automatically take them to the vet. Some candy isn’t toxic at all. If not toxic it can still cause an upset stomach or pose a choking risk so care should still be taken.
However, some candy is extremely dangerous, like sugar-free gum containing xylitol. Therefore, we recommend acting on the advice you received in step three.
How Much Candy is Toxic to Dogs?
This is not a question that can be answered as there are many variables. These include the ingredients and amount consumed, age, size and general health of the dog for example.
Sugar is never good for dogs in the concentration that appears in candy but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this amount of candy is toxic. It’s the other ingredients that we have to worry about. Sugar-free gum is particularly an issue. However, chocolate and other ingredients can also cause problems.
Gather as much information as you can and contact your veterinarian for further advice.
Halloween candy is never good for your dog. However, not all of it is toxic. Just because your dog has broken into your Halloween candy doesn’t necessarily mean that they ate something worrying. However, there is still a good chance that they will get an upset stomach. It is often recommended to call poison control or your vet to clarify if the candy poses a threat to your dog.
Featured Image Credit: Kittima05, Shutterstock