As the holidays are approaching it is important to keep in mind not only our own dogs but other dogs around us or in our homes. Halloween is right around the corner and every household on the block more than likely has a large amount of candy. So let’s talk a little bit about dogs and candy and the dangers holidays like this can impose on our pets!

First, if your pet accidentally gets into your kiddo’s candy bag and they eat something, immediately check the ingredients. An extremely toxic and dangerous ingredient in some candies is xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener. For dogs, the ingestion of xylitol ends up becoming more readily absorbed into their bloodstream of dogs which results in a stronger release of insulin inside their pancreas. Within 15 minutes after eating candy that may contain xylitol, the dog can experience hypoglycemia if the amount consumed was greater than 0.5 g per kilogram in weight then liver toxicity may occur. If dogs get into candies containing xylitol it will result in a decrease in blood sugar and if left untreated the result may be fatal. Some common symptoms in dogs after the ingestion of candy that contains xylitol include vomiting, staggering, and a sudden collapse in dogs.

The other toxic ingredient in candies is an alkaloid called theobromine. Theobromine, when ingested by dogs, is an indigestible ingredient that stimulates the central nervous system, and cardiovascular system, and causes an increase in blood pressure. Dogs can’t metabolize theobromine as quickly as humans can. If your dog has ingested theobromine, toxic levels will show up as diarrhea, excessive panting, excessive urination, muscle twitching, vomiting, hyperactive behavior, dehydration, and seizures. Older dogs and smaller dogs tend to have more serious issues when theobromine is ingested. Although all chocolate is toxic for dogs dark chocolate and baker’s quality chocolate have the highest content of cocoa and therefore have higher contents of theobromine and can cause way worse reactions than chocolate such as milk chocolate. A tiny square of dark chocolate is just as harmful as 23 wrapped chocolate drops. Cocoa powder contains 16 times more theobromine per ounce than most common chocolate candies.

If you suspect that your dog or a dog you know has ingested chocolate and is experiencing toxicity effects here are some ways to treat the dog. However, always remember it is the safest route to follow up with a veterinarian before and after attempting these purging treatment remedies. You can induce vomiting in dogs with the use of hydrogen peroxide. The general measurement here is 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per 5 pounds of the dog’s body weight. There is also another type of syrup that may induce vomiting for them known as Ipecac syrup. It would also be a good idea to get your dog to eat a small amount of activated charcoal. This will bind to the theobromine and keep the theobromine from entering the bloodstream. Typically 1 to 2 teaspoons mixed with water will do the trick.  And lastly, it’s important to keep your dog hydrated as much as possible so giving them enough water to drink during this process is very vital.

How can I avoid my dogs from eating candy in the first place? Here are a few tips and tricks to avoid this from occurring.

1.) Be sure to store and place your candy in hard-to-reach places so that no animals can knock it over and get access to it
2.) Be sure to dispose of all candy immediately upon finishing
3.) Keep all trash firmly secure and out of reach of pets

It’s important that all members in the same household living with the pets understand and have this knowledge about the dangers that candies and sugar-free items have on pets. Knowledge is the best prevention after all. Happy Holidays to you and your furry friends!