Petplan Unearths the Scariest Threat Haunting Pet Health on Halloween

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Pet insurance data points to chocolate as a top hazard

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Forget ghosts and goblins: food poisoning is the spookiest thing pets encounter during the Halloween holiday.

Petplan pet insurance claims data revealed that pets are 32% more likely to suffer food poisoning during Halloween week versus any other time of the year. Among the top toxins? Chocolate.

“Chocolate poses a threat to pets because it contains toxic theobromine,” says Dr. Jules Benson, Chief Veterinary Medical Officer of Petplan. “Different types of chocolate affect pets differently because they have varying levels of theobromine. Baking chocolate has the highest concentration, and is therefore the most toxic – followed by dark, milk and then white chocolate. The type of chocolate and the size of the dog will determine how severe the symptoms will be.”

How much is too much?
So Rover raided the Halloween haul. How’s a pet parent to know if he’s in danger of food poisoning? To tell if candy-gobbling canines are at risk, pet parents need to know three things: how much theobromine the chocolate contains, how much the dog ate and how much he weighs. If a dog ingests close to 20mg of theobromine per pound of body weight, he’s in the danger zone for food poisoning.

Milligrams of theobromine per ounce:

Baking chocolate – 450mg/oz
Dark chocolate – 160mg/oz
Milk chocolate – 64mg/oz
White chocolate – 1mg/oz

Here’s how to do the math: Multiply the ounces of chocolate ingested by the milligrams of theobromine per ounce and divide that by the weight of the dog in pounds. The closer the resulting number is to 20, the worse the toxic effects will haunt him. For example:

A 25-lb. dog who eats 3 ounces of milk chocolate:
3oz x 64mg/oz = 192/25lbs = 7.7mg/lb (non-toxic level of theobromine)

A 25-lb. dog who eats 3 ounces of dark chocolate:
3oz x 160mg/oz = 480/25lbs = 19.2mg/lb (dangerous level of theobromine)

What to do next
A number close to 20 indicates a toxic level of theobromine that can terrorize a pet’s health. Get to the vet or an emergency clinic immediately! If the number is well below 20, your pet’s tummy may turn on him, but you don’t need to be spooked. Call the vet for tips on how to treat signs of trouble.

“Even if your pet is not in the danger zone for theobromine toxicity, bear in mind that the other ingredients in chocolate will likely have effects, too,” says Dr. Benson. “Large amounts of sugar and dairy byproducts frequently cause GI signs like vomiting and diarrhea, and hyperactivity or lethargy can both occur. These issues alone can necessitate a visit to the vet if they’re serious or persistent, so keep a close eye whenever your furry friend gets his paws into mischief.”

For more poison prevention tips and a room-by-room guide to household hazards, visit w


About Petplan
Petplan is more than a pet insurance provider. We're dedicated to providing pet parents with the support, resources and tools they need to keep their pets not just surviving—but thriving—into their old age. Simply put, we aim to be the kind of company that will make our pets proud. For the third consecutive year, Petplan was listed among Forbes' annual ranking of America’s Most Promising Companies – a list of 100 privately held, high-growth companies with bright futures. Petplan is the only pet insurance provider to have been included on Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America.

Petplan’s fully customizable cat and dog insurance policies provide comprehensive coverage for all hereditary and chronic conditions for the life of the pet as standard. Petplan policies are underwritten by AGCS Marine Insurance Company in the U.S. and by Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company in Canada. The Allianz Group was rated A+ by A.M. Best in 2014. For more information about Petplan pet insurance, visit or call 1-866-467-3875.

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Jessica Kinney
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