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Halloween can be no treat for pets

Consumer Reports News: October 22, 2010 10:43 AM

Our associate director's kitten, Freya, will munch
on pet-friendly treats, not including this pumpkin.
According to the National Retail Association, this Halloween is expected to scare up nearly $6 billion in US consumer spending, averaging just over $66 spent per individual--a significant gain over the previous Halloween. An average of $20.29 per person will be spent on candy and chocolate.

While the vast majority of those sweets will be gobbled up by us bipeds, some will unfortunately fall into the paws and mouths of our four-legged friends. As we have noted in the past, candy can be quite toxic to Fluffy or Fido. Chocolate in any form--especially dark or baking chocolate--can be very dangerous for cats and dogs especially. Symptoms of significant chocolate consumption can include increased thirst and urination, diarrhea, vomiting, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, and even seizure and death. Candies like gum and others that contain the sweetener xylitol can also be quite hazardous to your pet. Xylitol can increase the release of insulin by the body, leading to reduced levels of blood glucose and potentially liver failure.

So, this Halloween while many of us are taking part in the festivities, let's do our best to keep candy, chocolate, chewing gum, and other sweets out of reach of our pets' paws.

Now is also a good time to be aware of many foods and other items in the home that can be quite toxic to your animals. The ASPCA recently posted a list of the top 10 pet poisons of 2009 which is quite thorough and informative—and could well be a lifesaver for your pet. Our family recently came home with two new kittens (the youngest, Freya, is in the photo here) and that ASPCA list included a few toxic items we were not at all aware of (including several plants, such as the sago palm, that have now been exiled to my office).

Chris Hendel, associate director, Consumer Reports Health

Do you have some Halloween pet advice or a scary tale to tell? We'd like to hear from you. Also, please visit our pet products and advice page for future news and updates, and find out if it's worth it to buy health insurance for your pet

Aaron Bailey

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