Ask the Vet

Lizzard and Cat halloweenOne of my favorite holidays is right around the corner – Halloween! While I’m not a fan of the cooler weather, I do enjoy the celebrations this time of year. What fun it is to see the neighborhood children excited in  their costumes coming up to our house in search of that perfect Halloween treat! But, this annual ritual of fall also prompts me to take a step back and think about the things that may impact our four-legged friends:

While we all know the dangers of chocolate, there are a few more treats you want to make sure your pets do not have access too. Did you know that sugar-free gum is high on the list of bad things for your dog? Many sugar-free gums contain a chemical called Xylitol and while harmless to humans, it causes a dangerous drop in blood sugars in our canine companions. If you suspect your dog may have gotten into any products that contain this compound, seek immediate veterinary treatment: Time is critical as Xylitol ingestion can lead to serious illness and even death. Even if a dog survives the initial exposure to Xylitol, some dogs may face complete liver failure and subsequent death.

Some health conscious home owners may give out healthier treats such as raisins, to the wave of would be tricksters. Raisins, even in very small amounts, can lead to liver and kidney failure in some dogs. Why? Well, we don’t know why it affects some but not all dogs. It is best to avoid all raisins and grapes for dogs and cats, even if they have eaten them before and not had a problem.

And just what does your dog think of all those monsters and goblins that come to your door demanding a treat? If you have cautious canines it is better to restrict them from helping you greet the hoards at your door. Even if you don’t have an easily spooked Spot, he may act totally different greeting would be tricksters, than any other time of the year. Also, there is the increased chance of escape from the house: The door will be open a lot, and there are times when you may chat with your neighbors and not see Ms. Kitty or Spot sneak into the cool autumn night.

Another concern may be the decorations that we use tomake our houses look fun and spooky. Jack-O-Lanterns have to have a candle inside of them to complete the effect but even small flames can do some damage to
curious puppies and kittens that get too close. Fake spider webs are a real hazard for curious cats. Ingestion could lead to emergency surgery to remove the fake webbing from their stomach days after ingestion.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom! A little pumpkin as a treat to your cat or dog is just fine. Pumpkin is great source of fiber and some animals really do enjoy the taste. Just remember, as with any dietary supplement, only go
with small amounts and contact your veterinarian if you aren’t sure if
your pet can tolerate the change in diet.
And finally, while turning your Italian Greyhound into Scrat from the Ice Age Movies may be super cute, make sure that the costume is appropriately sized and won’t do harm or cause undue stress to their wearers.

Happy Halloween!
Dr. Carla Christman • Healthy Pet Veterinary Clinic
1440 E. Washington Ave. • Madison, WI 53703 • (608) 294-9494