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The Real Cost of Humiliating Pets on Halloween

By Carla Fried - 2013-10-22T22:12:30Z

Photograph by retales botijero/Getty Images

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Ruh-roh: Candy + Canines

Halloween can play bad tricks on pets whose owners don’t keep human treats far away. Methylxanthine alkaloids -- a component of chocolate, especially the dark variety -- is toxic for cats and dogs. Jennifer Hennessey, a veterinarian with the Animal ER of Northwest Houston, says the insatiable appetite of most dogs makes them likelier victims: “For every 100 cases of chocolate toxicity I see, 99 are a dog. Cats are just more discriminate eaters.” If an at-home dose of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide doesn’t induce vomiting, it's off to the vet. Hennessey says treatment can run at least $500. Veterinary Pet Insurance, a subsidiary of Nationwide, paid out more than 1,000 claims last year for methylxanthine problems (average covered claim: $335). Claims peak around Christmas, but Halloween-season claims run ahead of Valentine’s Day, VPI says.