The Woodward News

October 26, 2012

Candy is a trick, not treat for pets

Gary Engel
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — It might be fun to take Fido along while going trick-or-treating on Halloween. But veterinary officials at Oklahoma State University and in Woodward said that dogs shouldn't get treats made for people.

Sugary substances and several other items humans enjoy are hazardous to cats, too.


Dr. Marvin Reidlinger, DVM of Woodward Animal Clinic, said chocolate is one prime example of a popular treat for kids that can be dangerous to animals, in particular dogs.

And the darker the chocolate, the more severe the gastrointestinal problems your dog will suffer.

But it's not just chocolate, most candy and other sweets can be poisonous to pets, and in large quantities, may be fatal.

If that's not serious enough, Reidlinger said smaller dogs have an added risk.

"They can choke on hard candy," he said.

OSU veterinarians said Xylitol, a sugar substitute used in gum, candy, nicotine gum, toothpaste, many baked goods and chewable vitamins is extremely poisonous to dogs. The chemical causes low blood sugar and liver damage, which results in vomiting, seizures and collapse.

And it's not just the candy that is harmful.  Both cats and dogs can get life-threatening bowel obstructions from ingesting candy wrappers, which could require surgery to correct, according to OSU veterinarians.

Derinda Blakeney, of the college's veterinary public relations department, said beads and other small parts can fall off costumes and also lead to pet-poisoning.

Other costume accessories such as glow sticks and glow jewelry are also hazardous.  OSU staff said that cats will ingest the glow sticks and that can injure their mouths.


Reidlinger, with more than 20 years in animal health practice, said that even treats given out as healthier alternatives to candy on Halloween can be harmful to dogs.

Grapes and raisins are highly toxic to dogs, he said.

In addition, he noted, "Cheese can cause a great deal of digestive distress in dogs."

"In case there's an emergency, if you suspect your pet has eaten something poisonous, call the OSU Veterinary Hospital for help," said Blakeney. "The hospital is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (405) 744-7000."

Also, pet lovers may also contact any of the veterinarians at the Woodward Animal Clinic with questions or concerns about their pet at (580) 256-7787, Reidlinger said.


When it comes to giving your dog or cat treats for Halloween, stick to goodies you already find in the pet aisle at your local store.

Reidlinger suggests looking carefully checking labels to certify that the treats are marked  safe for dogs or cats to eat, such as pet-approved chews.

Blakeney said some dogs even like small carrot chunks "for the crunch."  Or for a more seasonal treat, you can give your dog small chunks of fresh pumpkin or even sweet potatoes with the skin removed, either raw or warmed slightly in the microwave, she said.


As an alternative to taking Fido or Rover trick-or-treating with the kiddos, consider entering your pet in Atwoods 17th annual Pet Costume Contest this Sunday at 2 p.m.

This event is geared specifically for pets so should provide a safe environment for your animals to enjoy some Halloween fun.

The costume contest is open to all kinds of pets, including dogs, cats and even goats.  The pets will be dived up into 4 different weight classes, with up to 18 overall winners being selected to receive prizes of free pet supplies.  There will also be free giveaways for participants, with the freebies and prizes sponsored by IAMS, Purina, Tomlyn Mfg., Mustang Mfg., Petmate and more.

Just stop by the Woodward Atwoods store at 3013 Williams Ave. at 2 p.m. Sunday to participate, or call the store at (580) 256-7436 for more information.

However, in coming up with creative costume ideas for your pets, be careful with what materials you use.

"Dying your pet's fur can be harmful to their digestive system, too," Blakeney said.