Dogs and Halloween – Keeping Your Dog Candy-Safe During the Holidays

Posted by on Oct 22, 2013 in Dog Health

Halloween marks the start of not only the holiday, but also the candy dish season. We all love to leave treats out for our guests (and ourselves) but it is incredibly important to remember – our dogs are tempted by the sweets as well! Please remember to keep all these edibles out of reach of your dog.

What to do if you suspect that your dog has eaten something toxic:

Immediately call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680


CHOCOLATE is toxic for dogs! Chocolate contains ingredients that are difficult for dogs to metabolize; specifically theobromine and caffeine. Different types of chocolate contain varying amounts of these substances, and the general rule of thumb is that the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger.

Theobromine & Caffeine levels in different types of chocolate;

Type of chocolate Caffeine (per oz) Theobromine (per oz)
Baking 47mg 390-450mg
Semi-sweet 22mg 130-138mg
Milk 6mg 44-60mg
White 0.85mg 0.25mg

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle trembling
  • Seizure


Grapes and Raisins (seedless & with seeds) can cause acute renal failure in some dogs. We do not know the exact mechanism, but do know that renal failure can occur within 48 hours of ingestion.

Symptoms of Raisin/Grape toxicity:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Physical weakness
  • Anorexia
  • Drinking large amounts of water
  • Abdominal pain


Many sugar-free candies and gums have an ingredient called xylitol, which can be lethal to dogs. A dog’s body recognizes xylitol as a large amount of “sugar” and releases a ton of insulin which, in response, causes a severe (can be life threatening) lowering of blood sugar. Ingestion of large amounts of xylitol has been known to cause liver failure as well.

The important piece of information to know is that it does not take very much xylitol for toxicity. The most common cause of xylitol poisoning is with sugar-free gum. As few as 2 pieces (1g xylitol per piece) of sugar-free gum can cause severe low blood sugar in a 45-pound dog. If you suspect xylitol ingestion, make sure to identify the brand and suspected amount of gum when calling your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline.

Symptoms of xylitol toxicity:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Incoordination (acting drunk-like)
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizure
Brookline's Veterinarian, Dr. Amy Straut, DVM
Written By:

Dr. Amy Straut, DVM, CCRT
Head Veterinarian
Beantown Bed & Biscuit