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Help! My Dog Broke Into Halloween Candy

Your dog broke into your Halloween treats. Whether or not he got a lethal dose is tricky. Here’s what you need to know.

Beth Ann Mayer  |  Oct 8th 2020


You may love to treat your dog for doing tricks, like rolling over or shaking hands, but you likely know human candy isn’t good for pups.

“There are a number of different candies that are toxic to pets,” says Ruth MacPete, DVM. “Pets are naturally inquisitive and curious and that can get them in trouble.”

Even smart and generally well-behaved dogs are prone to a little mischief, particularly if they are food motivated. And on Halloween, a holiday celebrated by 172 million people in the U.S., the risks for dogs getting into a bag of candy increases (95 percent of the people who celebrate the holiday purchase candy).

The results can be scary for pet parents and range from unpleasant (GI issues) to even death. The best way to avoid problems is to keep the bag out of reach, but things happen. Dr. MacPete shared the effects different candies can have on pets and what to do if your dog breaks into a bag or licks some off the floor.

What happens if your dog eats chocolate

Most people know chocolate is a big no-no for dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Dark chocolate has more, but it’s also found in milk and white chocolate and cocoa beans.

Related: Can Dogs Eating Chocolate Cause Long-Term Health Problems?

“The problem is that it mimics caffeine, so what it can do is cause vomiting, diarrhea and inflammation of the pancreas,” Dr MacPete says. “It speeds up their heart and causes seizures and even death if left untreated.”

What happens if your dog eats gummy bears

These cute little guys contain a chemical compound known as xylitol, which is also common in sugar-free gum, peanut butter and candies.

“Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs,” Dr. MacPete says. “It causes hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels and seizures, death and liver injury.”

dog ate halloween candy

Photo: svetikd/Getty Images

What happens if your dog eats raisins

Some people like to hand out the mini-raisin boxes, and Craisins contain a double-whammy of toxic elements (chocolate and raisins). Though raisins may seem like a healthy option (hey, they’re a fruit, right?), they’re not good for dogs.

“They cause kidney failure,” Dr. MacPete says.

Another scare: wrappers

It can be frightening enough to see your pet consumed candy, but ingesting wrappers may also cause health problems.

“If the dog eats the wrappers, it can cause an obstruction,” Dr. MacPete says.

My dog ate candy. What should I do?

Whether your dog ate a lethal dose of candy or wrappers depends on a few factors.

“The toxic dose depends on the amount a pet has consumed and his weight,” Dr. MacPete says. “If the dog eats one M&M, licks chocolate ice cream or eats some of a chocolate cookie, that’s probably not going to be toxic, especially if you’re talking about a 50-. dog. But if your dog gets into the whole bag of chocolate … that actually can be a lethal dose.”

Instead of trying to crunch the numbers yourself, call the vet or poison control immediately. Chocolate may take a while to show red flags, whereas xylitol’s effects can kick in in less than an hour. The sooner you get someone on the phone, the better.

“They will calculate by the quantity consumed and your dog’s weight whether you should monitor the pet or get it to a veterinary clinic right away.”

Red flags to look for

Your vet or poison control may tell you not to bring the pet in for observation if they don’t think the amount consumed is deadly. But as a pet parent, you should still be on the lookout for red flags.

“Vomiting, abdominal pain, not wanting to eat or drink and diarrhea [can be signs of pancreatitis],” Dr. MacPete says.

If you’re concerned, call the vet or poison control again immediately.

Featured photo: Photo: svetikd/Getty Images

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