Seamus, a miniature Bull Terrier, joins in the Halloween fun at PetSmart's annual Howl-O-Ween costume party earlier this month in New York. Photo by The Associated Press.

Thumbnail image for PetSmartHalloween.JPGSeamus, a miniature Bull Terrier, joins in the Halloween fun at PetSmart’s annual Howl-O-Ween costume party earlier this month in New York. Photo by The Associated Press.

Dr. Sheppard Thorpe, an emergency veterinarian at Puget Sound Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma, answers this week’s questions.

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Question: This is that scary time of year again, full of ghosts, witches, pumpkins — and sugary bags of trick-or-treat candy. A fun time for kids and adults can be a disastrous time for pets who share those bags of treats, landing them at the vet’s office or emergency clinic. What kind of health emergencies do see most often during the Halloween holiday?

Answer: Around the trick-or-treating time, we see many dogs that eat chocolate and other Halloween candy.

Pet ingestion of Halloween treats can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, pancreatitis, heart arrhythmias, seizures, liver disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal obstruction and even death.

Dangerous or even fatal chocolate toxicity is rare because knowledgeable owners usually get their chocolate-eating pets into the clinic within a few hours of ingestion. Once the pet arrives, we do what is called “decontamination” — vomiting is induced and then activated charcoal is administered.

We also see pets with general vomiting and diarrhea from gastrointestinal upset after they’ve eaten candy, wrappers and holiday decorations. This can be very serious if the pet develops pancreatitis or if the pet becomes very dehydrated.

A quick and timely response makes the treatment much easier on your pet and your wallet.

Question: We’ve read that raisins and grapes, yeast dough, Macadamia nuts — even an artificial sweetener called xylitol — are toxic to pets. True? What problems do they cause?