Brenda King, V.M.D.
Home Page
Medical, Surgical and Dental Procedures
Good to Know
About Us

Grim Reaper




As Halloween approaches, let us remember some
of the common toxin facts all pet parents
should know.

Chocolate, Caffeine and Coffee: Chocolate contains theobromide, a chemical toxic to dogs in large quantities. Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromide and caffeine. Chocolate also contains the caffeine found in coffee, tea, and some soft drinks. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate contain more of these compounds than milk chocolate does, so a dog would need to eat more milk chocolate to become ill than dark chocolate. Even a few ounces of chocolate can be enough to cause a small dog to experience toxicity. NO amount of chocolate should be considered "safe" for your dog. Symptoms of toxicity can be vomiting, diarrhea, rapid or irregular heart rate, restlessness, muscle tremors and seizures. Death can occur within 24 hours of ingestion.

Xylitol: This artificial sweetener product is found in many candies, gum, mints, toothpaste and mouthwash products. In dogs, xylitol causes a sudden release of insulin that leads to low blood sugar and can cause liver damage. Within 30 minutes of ingestion, the dog may experience vomiting, become lethargic and/or uncoordinated. Some signs of toxicity may be delayed for hours or days. This toxicity may be fatal in dogs if left untreated. It is unknown if xylitol is toxic to cats.

Macadamia Nuts: These nuts are common in candies and chocolates. The mechanism of this toxicity is not well understood. The clinical signs in dogs include depression, weakness, vomiting, tremors, joint pain, and pale gums. Clinical signs can occur 12 hours after ingestion. In some cases, symptoms can resolve without treatment in 24-48 hours, but patient monitoring is strongly recommended.

Grapes and Raisins: The toxic dose of grapes and raisins remains unknown and seems to vary between pets. Ingestion can result in acute kidney failure in dogs and cats within 24 hours with signs of vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy as the early signs. NOT worth the risk.

Avocados: The avocado tree leaves, pit, fruit, and plant bark are all likely to be toxic to dogs and cats. Clinical signs are vomiting and diarrhea.

Backyard Dangers: Beware of mushrooms in your yard. These can be toxic. Signs may include excessive salivation, tearing, urination and defecation. Mold growing on mulch piles can cause neurologic signs such as seizures or tremors.


See other "Good to Know" topics.