What’s new about Halloween with pets? Three things come to mind: 1. Chocolate and upset stomachs, 2. Behavioral issues with strangers and 3. Lost pets getting out the door. Not so new you may say, but it’s 2015 and we may have a few new solutions.

My dog ate chocolate and a few other candies, what should I do?
Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound responsible for toxicity in dogs and cats. According to the Veterinary Merck Manual unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate has about 450 mg/oz of theobromine while milk chocolate contains about 45 mg/oz of theobromine. Clinical signs of toxicity can occur with ingestions of 0.4 oz/kg body weight milk chocolate. Death can be caused by ingestion of 10 to 20 times that amount. Baker’s chocolate is about 10 times more toxic than milk chocolate). For example one regular sized Hershey Chocolate Bar consists of 2 oz of milk chocolate. A 10 lb dog may show clinical signs if it ingests 1 Hershey Chocolate Bar. Clinical signs would be excitement, agitation and increased thirst. This may be followed mainly by vomiting and diarrhea. If severe intoxication occurred other clinical signs would occur and worsen. When any of these events occur please call your veterinarian and remember “please keep the treats in a location where your pets can not get at them”.

How is your pet’s behavior with numerous strangers at the door?
We all know pets have personalities. You know your pet’s personality better than anyone. Pets may show some anxiety, fear, aggression and, territorialism. Behavioral training may be indicated to alleviate these problems. These may include practicing ringing the door bell and pretending a stranger is at the door followed immediately by positive reinforcement only when correct behavior is achieved. It may take weeks to months to accomplish the desired behavior. You may need to confine your pet in an area of the house where they are safe and comfortable. Drugs of all sorts are available for various specific behavioral issues which may be recommended by your veterinarian in conjunction with a designed training program.

With all the commotion of Halloween many pets end up outside on the street. Microchipping your pet is one of the most important identification tools to ensure your pet returns home safely. This is a small 4 millimeter long cylinder chip easily inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades. These microchips can be read by hand held scanners that identifies the chip so that the owner can be found. Most all veterinarians, animal shelters, and kennel clubs have scanner available. All pets at animal shelters are scanned upon arrival. Ask your veterinarian for one today.

Dog tags and rabies tags are also important for the identification numbers which track the pet owner and the rabies vaccination health status. I can not tell you how many times a week I have clients say there pet is missing. “It never goes outside so the pet tags were not on the collar because it seemed bothersome.” All it takes in once and Halloween is a time distractions occur and the door open a lot. Please take extra special precautions your pet is in a secure location and properly identified.