How to keep your Pets safe this Howl-O-Ween!!

fah halloween olive suni and daisy

Halloween is a fun and exciting time of year, so much so that we often want to include our furry family members in the festivities. However, It is important to remember that certain foods that people consume are highly toxic to dogs and cats. Below is a list of tips to ensure that your pet enjoys Halloween as much as you do!

  1. Costumes
    • Many people love to dress up and want to share this experience with their pet. It is important to remember that not all pets enjoy being dressed up. Some costumes can cause discomfort and may cause your pet to become unnecessarily stressed.
    • What to watch for: Make sure the costume does not impair your pet’s vision, movement or intake of air. Assess your pet’s response to the costume and if he/she exhibits signs of distress promptly remove the costume.
  2. Chocolate
    • Chocolate is highly toxic! Chocolate contains methyxanthines, chemicals that can be fatal. In general, the darker the chocolate the more toxic it is.
    • What to watch for: If your pet has ingested chocolate call your vet immediately. Symptoms include GI upset in mild cases (vomiting/diarrhea) to abnormal heartbeats and seizures in severe cases.
  3. Candy
    • Ingestion of a large amount of sugary, high fat candy can lead to pancreatitis or gastroenteritis. This often requires hospitalization and treatment with intravenous fluids and other medications.
    • What to watch for: Symptoms can include, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.
  4. Gum
    • Pieces of gum can be a choking hazard for pets, so be careful not to leave them lying around. Additionally, sugar-free gum may contain the sugar substitute xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs. Xylitol causes dogs to produce insulin rapidly, which can lead to seizures or liver failure. The effect of xylitol on cats is unknown, but it’s best to keep them away from it to be safe.
    • What to watch for: Lethargy, weakness/collapse, seizures, vomiting and not eating.
  5. Candy Wrappers
    • Ingestion of foil/plastic can cause gastrointestinal obstructions, which often requires surgical intervention and can be life threatening.
    • What to watch for: Vomiting, not eating, not defecating and lethargy.
  6. Raisins
    • Very small amounts of grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs and cats.
    • What to watch for: Vomiting, not eating and lethargy.
  7. Glow Sticks
    • Both cats and dogs are attracted to these toys and will chew them causing the harmful chemicals to leak out.
    • What to watch for: Drooling, foaming at the mouth, vomiting and lethargy.

Reference: ASPCA

Have a safe and spooky Halloween from all the Doctors and Staff at The Interior Pet Health Group!

(Fairfield Animal Hospital, Central Valley Vet Hospital & Westbank Animal Care Hospital)

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Mushroom Toxicity In Pets

While the ingestion of poisonous mushrooms in pets is a rare occurrence the consequences can be deadly.

There are thousands of types of mushrooms that grow in North America and luckily less than 100 are poisonous. However, one of the many difficulties in dealing with poisonous mushrooms is that the mushroom species can be very difficult to identify. It is also often the case that our pets can eat a quick bite of something while we look the other way! For these reasons it is often difficult to know for certain that a toxic mushroom has been eaten and treatment is often based on this presumption.

The most dangerous type of mushrooms contains liver toxins called hepatotoxic cyclopeptides. This family of toxic mushrooms includes the Aminata phalloides, commonly known as “death cap” or “death angel” mushroom and Aminata ocreata, also known as the “angel of death”, among others. It is this class of mushroom, which is known to grow worldwide, that is held responsible for 95% of mushroom related deaths in humans. The liver toxins in these mushrooms prevent liver cells from building proteins and ultimately lead to the death of the liver’s cells.

When a pet has been poisoned by this class of mushroom the illness comes in 3 predictable stages.

In the first stage, the pet will show severe gastrointestinal abnormalities including: Drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. This stage will start within 6 hours of the mushroom being eaten and last for about 18 hours. The first stage is followed by a temporary recovery period where the pet will appear to be on the mend. Sadly, this false recovery is short-lived, lasting between 12-24 hours. It is followed by the hepatorenal stage. During this stage dogs exhibit signs of liver failure which can include vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding disorders and neurologic abnormalities among other problems. Less commonly, kidney failure can develop several days later. Once patients reach this stage of illness, where severe organ injury has occurred, medical treatment required is intensive and chance of recovery becomes remote.

Treatment for mushroom toxicity is most successful when started early on.

Decontamination is key to prevent the toxins from being absorbed from the digestive tract. This involves the induction of vomiting and administration of several doses of activated charcoal to bind toxins within the intestines. If animals are already clinically ill by the time that they arrive in the veterinary clinic, treatments will also include medications to control vomiting and the acidity of the stomach, intravenous fluids to promote appropriate hydration and blood pressure, medications to address bleeding problems which may include blood or blood plasma transfusions, treatment for hepatic encephalopathy (abnormal mentation resulting from liver dysfunction) and medications to protect the liver. Peritoneal dialysis and antibiotics may also be used in severe cases.

Because pets who are seen early after ingestion have a good chance of full recovery, we recommend that any pet suspected of having eaten a wild mushroom should be seen by their veterinarian as soon as possible.