Halloween isn't always a treat for your pets: How to avoid a scary vet bill

Pet owners beware of these Halloween hazards

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's creepy, spooky and downright fun for families -- but the Halloween season might be more of a trick, versus a treat, for your four-legged friends.

Pet insurance companies say vet ER visits are always up around this time of year.

We talked to local veterinarian Dr. Brad Twigg about what pet owners need to be aware of so they can avoid a frightful bill from the ER.

Q: What kind of emergencies do you usually see?

A: "Usually we see dogs who are vomiting or have diarrhea, and sometime stress-related things with pets because of the changes in the environment."

Q: Do you have any advice for pet owners on what they need to do during the Halloween season?

A: "The main thing is to keep candy out of reach for pets. Chocolate is one of the main ones, but also be wary of sugar-free candies because some of them can have the ingredient xylitol, which can be dangerous for dogs as well. Always keep the candy in a safe area, like a closed cabinet -- never on the counter. You also need to look out for the wrappers. If your pet ingests too many of them it can make them sick."

Q: If your dog does have some of the chocolate, what is the threshold before they need to go to the ER?

A: "There is definitely a range on the toxicity level with chocolates. Lighter chocolates are less reactive and the darker baking chocolates are more dangerous. It also depends on the dog’s size; a little yorkie versus a German shepherd. You can always call the pet poison hotline (888-426-4435) and they can tell you based on your dog's weight if you need to get to the ER immediately."

Q: What about costumes? Are there any dangers with costumes pet owners don't think about?

A: "Sometimes if pieces of the costume fall off dogs can eat them, for instance, buttons. Cats can also chew on loose strings and that could make them sick. You also need to make sure it doesn't stress your pet out. Some pets love the costumes, others not as much."

Q: What do you advise homeowners when it comes to handling trick or treaters?

A: "If you have an anxious dog you might want to keep them in the back of the house, maybe turn some music on or the TV on, something to distract them. The constant doorbell rings and knocking can stress out some dogs."

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