Spooky Scary Poisons – Halloween Pet Safety

Halloween. Almost an entire week dedicated to making, buying and giving out candy, with bountiful sugary rivers flowing from neighborhoods to trick or treater’s baskets and pillow cases– and hopefully, not into your pet’s mouth! It’s common for pets to eat things they shouldn’t, so make sure to keep the following Halloween treats far out of reach of curious noses.


Chocolate and Candy

Dogs find the taste of chocolate irresistible, but are unable to digest it quickly, especially the compound theobromine. In general, the darker and more bitter tasting the chocolate, the more toxic it is for your dog. Even small amounts of chocolate can be dangerous.

Candy can cause problems even without having chocolate in it. Massive doses of fat (dogs rarely eat just one) can lead to pancreatitis–an inflamed and painful pancreas which in severe cases can be fatal. Finally, candy wrappers can obstruct your pet’s bowel and require surgical intervention to remove.

If your dog does ingest some chocolate or candy, clinical signs to watch for are a decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and abdominal pain. In severe cases your pet can have seizures, heart rate changes or severe organ damage, depending on the ingredients ingested.

Xylitol is a popular ingredient in sugar-free candies and gum, as well as some products that also contain sugar.  This is highly toxic to dogs and can result in low blood glucose levels and potentially liver failure.  Clinical signs include vomiting, lethargy, depression, weakness, tremors,  and seizures due to low blood glucose levels.  Signs of liver failure include lethargy, vomiting, lack of appetite and yellow discoloration of the skin.


Grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs, and sometimes are distributed on Halloween as a healthier snack. Even small amounts can cause kidney failure in dogs or cats, and sometimes dogs can react to even a single raisin – any ingestion should therefore be treated as a potential poisoning. Watch for vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and abdominal pain.


During this Halloween season, keep your pet safe. If you think your pet has ingested something poisonous, get help sooner than later. It’s always easier, less expensive, and safer for your pet to be treated earlier. Contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline® immediately at 855-764-7661.



Written by:

Written by: Joshua Place, DVM student extern

Oklahoma State University, Class of 2023