by ANDREW M. STREIBER, DVM

Q:  With Halloween arriving in the next few weeks, and kids already planning their annual candy haul, could you give a quick rundown on all the potential post-trick or treat hazards for dogs?

A:  While All Hollow’s Eve is a great occasion for both kids and parents, it does carry potential dangers for our four-legged friends.  Chocolate in any form (dark, light, milk or white) must be at the top of our list.  The two active ingredients with the potential to cause harm to dogs are caffeine and theobromine.  Separate or together, each can be cardiotoxic.  Plus, theobromine (a metabolite) can be recirculated out of the bladder.  Next is xylitol, a common artificial sweetener used in chewing gums.  This is always a concern for veterinarians, as it too has the potential to be cardiotoxic.  Additionally, as some candy-givers trend towards healthier alternatives, dog owners must also be aware of the potential dangers both grapes and raisins pose to dogs (acute renal failure).  Finally, like the major canine toxins listed above, any candy and all candy wrappers have the potential to wreak havoc on a dog’s gastrointestinal tract, possibly resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, lethargy or G.I. foreign body.  Treatment of these ailments may range from outpatient detoxification to prolonged hospitalization.

As the list of possible toxins is extensive, this is by no means an exhaustive source, but serves to highlight some of the more likely pitfalls this celebration carries with it.  In the end, common sense rules the day.  Be sure all goodies that make it home are well out of the reach of your dogs.  An accidental ingestion and toxicosis can easily be avoided.