pets at halloweenHalloween is not always fun for the entire family, especially your furry family members. Take extra precautions to keep your fur babies safe this year as you might find that danger lurks in the shadows in more ways than one on October 31st.

So how exactly do you keep your pet out of harm’s way this Halloween? Here are some tips to keep the day fun and safe for everybody:

#1: Skip the Candy

No candy for the furry kids! Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats — with the general rule of thumb being “the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is.” The problem ingredient in chocolate is methylxanthines theobromine, but you also have to worry about any caffeine that yummy candy bar might contain. Sugar, the artificial sweetener xylitol, and other ingredients in candy can also cause pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Even innocent-looking raisin boxes can be fatal to dogs, since raisins can cause kidney failure.

#2: Curiosity Kills

Curious puppies and kittens should be kept away from cords and wires. It only takes one inappropriate bite or a bit of chewing on that thin cord to get an electric shock, and this can be particularly damaging to young animals.

#3: Watch for Choking

Choking hazards abound for pets at Halloween. Candy wrappers, glow sticks, small costume pieces, and candles can all be extremely toxic and can also lead to bowel obstructions if swallowed – which in turn might require emergency care or surgery in order to be corrected. Candles can also pose a burning risk, even if they seem to be out of reach – all it takes is a cat jumping on a table or a dog tripping into one and hot wax can drip and cause serious injury. If you keep candles around on Halloween night, place them where they can’t slide, fall or be pushed over by a curious or clumsy pet.

#4: Getting Lost

Another common danger for pets at Halloween? Getting lost on Halloween night. Yelling children, doors opening and closing, lots of noise and movement non-stop… These things can be very stressful to pets, and they may see an open door as a chance to bolt. Plus, all that noise and confusion can make even the sweetest, tamest pet react – and the last thing you want is the neighbor’s kid getting bitten because he startled Fido!

The best idea is to keep pets in a safe, quiet, and enclosed space until trick-or-treating is over. And don’t forget to make sure every pet has an ID tag on his collar, even if you think he’s safely locked inside anyway.

One word of caution: black cats might be especially at risk during Halloween. Stories about cruelty-related incidents connected to black cats abound, even though few have been confirmed. Just to be safe, though, keep all animals inside during this night, but be especially careful not to let your black cat get out and away.

#5: Dressing Up Fido

While dressing up your pet in a costume might sound like a lot of fun to you, your pet might not necessarily agree. Even if Fido or Fluffy cooperate, it’s up to you to make sure that they’re safe while wearing the costume.

First rule of thumb? Make sure the costume doesn’t block vision and doesn’t have any parts that drag –these could easily get caught somewhere or cause your pet to trip and fall, injuring himself.

Finally, keep in mind that it’s possible for pets to be allergic to the material of the costume or simply become too distressed if they have to wear it for too long – so don’t push it and take the costume off if you think your pet seems uncomfortable.