Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Some Scary News for Halloween

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Some Scary News for Halloween

Article excerpt

On Halloween night, our dog Pablo will be greeting trick-or-or treaters at the door, but he won't be in costume. He'll be "going" as a cocker spaniel, which is what he is.

In contrast, 22 million people spent $330 million dressing pets as Devil Dog, Pirate Pup, Captain Kitty and other manifestations for Halloween 2013, according the National Retail Foundation.

Forty-two percent of pet owners told a Pet360s survey that their pets will be dressing up for Halloween this year. By the way, we run a lot of Pet360 stories on our new Pets page, so look for them at

Pet costumes are the fun part of Halloween, but here's the dark side of this spooky holiday: Chocolate-related poisonings during this week in 2013 were nearly 140 percent higher than at other times of the year, according to veterinarian Jules Benson at Petplan pet insurance.

As little as 1 ounce of dark chocolate can poison a 50-pound dog, according to the news release. Insurance claims for vet bills averaged $627 to treat pets for chocolate ingestion, and some claims reached nearly $3,000.

Even the wrappers can be trouble: "They can become lodged in your pet's intestines, causing an obstruction that could require surgery."

Beware of sugar-free gum, too, because it generally contains Xylitol, a sweetener that is safe for people but can be lethal to dogs. It's also used in baked goods and in some toothpastes and vitamins.

Toxic signs can appear as quickly as 30 minutes after Xylitol is ingested, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The sweetener causes a rapid release of insulin and can lead to liver failure in dogs.

If you know you pet has gotten into chocolate or Xylitol, call your vet - or a 24-hour emergency vet - immediately, even if symptoms have not surfaced yet. The danger signs are trembling, panting, signs of weakness, vomiting and seizures.

Just this week, a co-worker's dog stole sugar-free gum from a purse. He was at veterinary clinic within the hour. His dog's stomach was pumped - removing gum, gum wrappers and dog food - and his blood work after the procedure showed no damage. …

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