Help! My Cat Ate My Halloween Candy!

Here's when to panic 🍫🎃

cat in halloween costume eating chocolate candy

WAIT! Did your cat eat Halloween candy? It’s best to call your vet ASAP.

Forget creepy crawlies and ghosts — candy is the scariest thing your cat can encounter during Halloween.

Veterinarians everywhere see an uptick in candy-related toxicity cases during Halloween — and it’s not surprising with all the candy you probably have stashed around the house for trick-or-treaters (or yourself, no judgement).

But what happens if your cat gets into your Halloween candy stash? The Dodo reached out to Dr. Stephanie Austin, veterinarian at Bond Vet in New York City, to find out.

“It’s best to avoid giving your cat any candies. Unlike humans and even dogs who are more omnivorous, cats are primarily carnivores,” Dr. Stephanie Austin told The Dodo. “Thus, their digestive system isn’t designed to handle a lot of sugar. Candy could certainly give them an upset stomach.”
 

According to Dr. Austin, while you shouldn’t give your cat any candy to begin with, there are certain ones — or ingredients — you should especially avoid.

“Anything that contains the artificial sweetener xylitol (sugar-free gums and mints are common culprits) is bad because xylitol is toxic to pets, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, sudden severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver damage, and even death,” Dr. Austin said. “Also, chocolate is toxic for cats! Certain components of chocolate can cause vomiting, heartbeat irregularities (arrhythmias), heart palpitations, muscle tremors, seizures, and even death. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is for pets.”

Dr. Austin went on to say that while less common, any treats containing raisins are also bad because ingestion of grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure in pets.

Are there candies that are OK for your cat to eat?

Not really.

“If your cat ate any Halloween candy, it’s best to call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center,” Dr. Austin said. “Even if your pet is acting normal, symptoms may start later — so it’s best to know right away if there’s a cause for concern.”

If you find out treatment is needed, it’s best to start it before your pet is showing symptoms. “But, don’t do any treatments (such as initiating vomiting) without talking to a veterinarian or pet poison control expert first!” Dr. Austin added.

If you suspect your cat ate candy and is experiencing these symptoms, seek help immediately:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Seizures
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremors or shivering
  • Collapsing

“Vomiting and diarrhea are trickier, because they could be the result of temporary tummy upset, or they could be the first symptoms of a more severe toxicity,” Dr. Austin said. “So, it’s better to err on the side of caution and call your veterinarian (or one of the helplines listed above) if your pet has an upset stomach after eating candy.”

Are you noticing a pattern here? Halloween candy -> Cats -> SEEK HELP

If possible, try to note exactly what your pet ate, and how much of it they ate. “This will help the veterinary professional determine which treatment, if any, is needed, and what risks exist,” Dr. Austin said.

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