Halloween Horrors

As a vet one of the most common poisonings I see at this time of year is xylitol poisoning. Xylitol is a common sweetener used in confectionary and many dogs often try to grab a few treats given any opportunity! The issue arises because the canine metabolism does not recognise it as a sweetener but acts as though it is pure sugar. The pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream, and thus the dog’s blood sugar level can drop dangerously low. This can lead to wobbliness, collapse, seizures and liver failure. If you see your dog eating treats containing xylitol or your dog displays any of these symptoms then please contact your vet immediately.

Vet advice for keeping your dog safe at Halloween

Chocolate is a year-round danger and I’ve written about it before but the abundance of chocolate within reach of our dogs at Halloween make it worth recapping. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous and has the highest levels of theobromine, a chemical similar to caffeine. Theobromine can cause a variety of symptoms including hyperexcitability, tremoring, seizures, breathing problems and cardiac issues such as a rapid heart rate.

Glow sticks may seem an odd choice for pets to eat but sometimes they make bad decisions. Whilst the luminous fluid inside is not particularly toxic we recommend making sure your pets can’t access them. The fluid contains phthalates which have an irritant effect and bitter taste. This usually causes excessive drooling and hyperactivity, but can cause vomiting and lethargy.

Spooky Cats Eyes

Fake spider web material poses a risk to all pets, but especially cats who may accidentally get it wraps around their tongue and/or swallow it. String-like objects can be very hazardous to our pets as the gut can struggle to pass the inorganic material and the intestines can become bunched up and ultimately rupture, causing severe life-threatening peritonitis. If you see your cat eat anything thread like please call your vet for advice.

There have also been a few reported cases of pets eating unexploded fireworks and unused sparklers. Fireworks contains a huge variety of chemicals that can cause a range of symptoms; from vomiting and diarrhoea to high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms. Sadly, there are often cases of pets sustaining blast injuries, eye injuries and burns from exploding fireworks. Have a look at my blog about firework anxiety here.

As always, let me know if you have any questions and any topics you’d like me to write about.


For more you can join me on


Deal and Sandwich vet Claire


Hi, I’m Claire and I am a veterinary surgeon working in East Kent. Having grown up locally I was delighted to be able to move home and settle near Sandwich. I love all animals but I mainly treat dogs, cat and rabbits. My lifelong passion for animal healthcare has led me to start this blog in the hope that I can interest your inner animal lover and share some fascinating stories along the way. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Read more

Keep in touch!

I occasionally send out emails containing recent posts, pet health alerts and useful information. If you would like to receive these please sign up below.