Want to avoid the pet ER this Halloween? Then, avoid these foods.


Chocolate could lead to vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, coma, seizures, or even death for pets

As ConsumerAffairs readers know, veterinarians are anything but fine with you feeding your little furry friends human food. But, evidently, some pet parents think that since it’s Halloween, it might be ok to feed Mr. Ruffles a little of what they hand out to trick or treaters.

Again, bad idea. Very bad idea, says the expert vets at TrustedHousesitters.

They want to go on record about what pets can and cannot eat, so you can save yourself a trip to the vet ER and avoid having to confess that, “Yes, but it was only one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.”

The problem is worse than you thought. The Pet Poison Helpline reports that toxicology phone calls increase 12% during Halloween week – more than any other time of year.

So you don’t have to suffer the same embarrassment, the TrustedHousesitters vets tackled several of the most common questions that pet owners do web searches for in October about what pets can and cannot eat.

Can cats eat pumpkin? 

Yes, pets can enjoy canned pumpkin as a treat (who knew?). However, the vets warn to be careful not to confuse canned pumpkin with pumpkin pie mix, as this can upset pets’ stomachs. In addition, avoid raw pumpkin as it is harder for both cats and dogs to digest.

“Cats can also enjoy pumpkin puree and pumpkin seeds,” said veterinary surgeon Dr. Lily Richards. “Because cats have delicate digestion tracks, we recommend grinding up the seeds before feeding smaller cats and kittens the snack to avoid choking.”

Richards claims that there’s also a hidden health benefit to pumpkins for pets because pumpkins contain vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron and potassium. Again, if you want to add some pumpkin to your pet’s meal plan, use canned or cooked pumpkin 

Can dogs eat candy? 

“Like humans, dogs have taste buds that crave sweet foods. However, while sugar isn’t poisonous to cats and dogs, it isn’t healthy for them and can cause tooth decay like in humans," Richards said.

“Although sugars like honey, brown, and white sugar are generally safe for dogs and cats, foods high in sugar often cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets.

“Watch out, particularly for sugar-free treats containing xylitol. This is very dangerous for pets, leading to sudden life-threatening changes in blood sugar and liver toxicity.”

An apple a day keeps the vet away, right? Yes, one can – and apples are ok for both cats and dogs. Richards says that if you want to offer an apple, do it in small amounts or as a puree. Other fruits that dogs and cats can eat include bananas and blueberries.

How much chocolate is poisonous to dogs?

When ConsumerAffairs Google’d that question, there were about 9,190,000 results so it must be of some concern. Richards says that if a dog consumes more than half an ounce of chocolate per pound of body weight, it may put your dog at risk for chocolate poisoning. She added that while the question is usually dog-specific, cats and chocolate are a dicey mix, too.

“Symptoms of toxicity vary from vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, coma, seizures, or even death. Chocolate containing higher levels of theobromine and caffeine, including dark chocolate, is particularly a worry,” said Richards. “Only a small amount of dark chocolate could lead to life-threatening consequences, whilst it will take more volume of milk or white chocolate to have the same effect.”

Are you prepared if your pet gives you a scare this Halloween? 

ConsumerAffairs pet insurance specialist Ashley Eneriz says that accidents happen to even the best pet parents. “If your pet eats something toxic, contact your veterinarian or an emergency vet clinic immediately. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 for an $85 incident fee and they will help you know if you can treat your pet at home or if you need to seek additional help,” she said.

Having pet insurance in place before something happens can keep you protected financially. A ConsumerAffairs reviewer, Jennifer from Washington, had her fair share of pet scares when her boxer ate something poisonous and needed emergency vet surgery on a Friday night.

“That following Monday I made a claim with Embrace, and I had been reimbursed by that Friday… For someone like me who lives paycheck to paycheck, the quick refund was a lifesaver!!” she wrote.

ConsumerAffairs has a complete guide on pet insurance including our team’s picks for pet insurance plans. Here’s where you can find the 5 Best Pet Insurance Companies of Oct 2023 (Cost & Plans).

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