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Halloween Candy and Other Poisonous Substances

The following post was originally published by Karen on KP’s Dog Blog, October 29, 2007.

I’m not really that into Halloween. Although I enjoyed it as a child, these days trying to facilitate the interface between my six resident dogs and a steady stream of unknown, excited, costumed children is just plain difficult.

I could make all my dogs stay behind closed doors in a bedroom, but that just doesn’t seem fair to them, so I usually end up placing a big basket of Peanut Chews on my porch with a sign that says, “Help yourself!” and making myself scarce during trick-or-treat hours.

By the way, if you have dogs, please be extra vigilant that they don’t get their paws on any Halloween candy, especially chocolate. Candy in general is full of sugar (horrible for the immune system, joints, teeth, etc.), but chocolate in particular contains a substance called theobromine, which can be fatal to dogs if they ingest enough of it. (This applies to cocoa mulch as well, so gardeners and dog people, beware.)

Other food substances poisonous to dogs include raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, mushrooms, alcohol, coffee, uncooked yeast dough, onions, and onion powder. Garlic and avocado are debatable—there is some evidence that they can be toxic to some dogs, so it might be best to avoid those too.

Xylitol, which has become a common additive in foods and toothpaste, is also quite toxic.

If you suspect that your dog has eaten something poisonous, please call the ASPCA’s animal poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435. (Why not post this number next to your phone, just in case?) It’s open 24 hours a day, every day, but you will be charged $60 on your credit card in exchange for advice on how to proceed.

Obviously, this service is worth every penny—you’re dealing with the life or death of your beloved canine companion! Do have a safe and happy Halloween!

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  • Bobs Mama says:

    I am also interested in what is toxic for cats??? Please advise! Thank you.

  • Eb says:

    Can you tell me what is toxic for cats? Thanks!

  • AJ says:

    I did not know that grapes were bad for dogs. Someone told me they were ok to eat them, so I give my baby some to snack occasionally when I have them. She chews them as best as she can, and loves them. But I guess I should stop. Thanks!

  • Karen says:

    Hi Kim!

    Yes, it’s true. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs–there have been many cases of this. If you see that your dog has swallowed grapes or raisins, the best thing to do is induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal (available at your health food store) and then rush the dog to the vet. Even dogs who get to the vet still sometimes end up having to be euthanized. Signs to watch for, if you suspect that your dog may have eaten grapes or raisins, include lethargy, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and anorexia (no appetite). It’s better to be safe than sorry–try not to drop any more grapes!

  • kim says:

    Oh my!
    I did not know that about grapes and raisins?!!!why are they harmful??
    My BabyGirl just ate two grapes…because they fall when washing them..of course she would have to have more then that to hurt her,,as she’s a bigger dog and is fine…
    But she has ate them in the past as well(same reason,I dont give them to her)
    And I have given her some left over raisin bread before that I couldnt finish eating…
    Hmmmm,now I know thanks!

  • shirley moore says:

    Dear Karen,
    I find your blogs very interesting and often would like to ‘save’ some. How can I do so without saving the whole list of blogs that come one after the other ? That is, how can I select one blog to save avoiding to save others ?
    I work with disturbed dogs, abbandoned dogs and also just ‘lively’ ones, and knowing things like what is poisonous and what is not is useful info I can pass on to my clients.
    Many thanks for all you write!
    All the best, Shirley

    >>>Response From KP

    Hi Shirley!
    Just click on the button that says “Permalink” below the individual entry, and that will give you the link for the specific blog entry. Thanks for asking!
    KP

  • Jeannie says:

    Mushrooms are poisonous?!
    Are you referring to ALL types or just the wild ones?

    I feed my dog white raw mushrooms I purchased from grocery store as treats!

    >>>Response from KP

    Hi Jeannie!
    Thanks for your question. I did mean wild mushrooms―and not even all of them are toxic. But I do avoid feeding my dogs domestic mushrooms, too, since if they develop a fondness for them, it might encourage them to eat the wild ones, which can be extremely toxic and fatal, when they encounter them outdoors.
    KP

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