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Halloween Pet Safety

During Halloween, all the ghosties and gremlims come creeping out to scare up a few treats. People decorate their homes, kids get dressed up, and for a few hours it can be chaotic. Here are a few to help make sure your pet doesn't get caught in the chaos.

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Keep your pet safely secured in a room.

The ringing doorbell, shouting children, the noise and the constant activity can take its toll on pets - especially timid or shy pets. But even a normally friendly and calm pet may become nervous or over-excited. In the excitement, pets may nip or bite someone or may run out the door, where they could become victim to a car, a predator, or a host of other things.

Instead, provide your pet with a room of his or her own (away from the front door) for the few hours that the trick-or-treaters are out. Put down a nice warm bed, water, maybe even a toy or two. As tough as it is to lock up your pet, it's only for a short time - and it'll keep them safe.

Likewise, it's generally not a good idea to take your dog trick-or-treating. Outside, you won't be able to control or predict how others will act or react to Halloween festivities. If you decide to take your dog trick-or-treating with the kids, keep him on a very short leash. This lets you retain maximum control. There's so much going on during Halloween that it's hard to know what will spook a dog -- strange noises, strange costumes, who knows? After all, Halloween is meant to be scary!

No Halloween treats for Fido or Fluffy.

Candy is not a suitable treat for pets - and chocolate, in particular, is toxic. Chocolate can cause vomiting, restlessness, heart disturbances, and in large enough quantities, even death.

Keep candy out of your pet's reach and tell children not to share with the pet. Contact your vet immediately if your pet appears lethargic or ill.

If you want your pet to share in the festivities, try baking your own homemade dog treats for a special treat.

Make sure pets don't chew or play with electrical cords or Halloween decorations.

Keep Halloween stuff out of reach. Chewing electrical cords can result in cuts or burns or even an electrical shock. Gnawing off a piece of Halloween decoration may cause an upset stomach or an intestinal obstruction.

Re-consider putting a lit candle into the jack-o-lantern. Curious snouts and paws may get burned - or they may knock the candle over and cause a fire.

Check your pet's costume for potential hazards.

Let's face it, most pets don't like to play dress-up - that's a people thing! Unless your pet truly enjoys it, don't put them in a costume as it may cause them undue stress. Try the costume on before Halloween; if your shows any signs of discomfort or stress, don't force him to wear it.

If you do dress them up, choose a costume that fits well. It shouldn't restrict the pet's ability to move, breathe, hear, or vocalize normally. Check the fit of the costume to make sure there aren't any uncomfortably tight spots. Remove any dangly or chewable bits that your pet may be tempted to gnaw off and swallow.

When it's time to take the costume off, check carefully to make sure all elastics and other fasteners have been removed and aren't stuck in your pet's fur or skin. These little objects can injure your pet by lodging in his skin, piercing a paw, or sticking in a curious pet's throat (if he attempts to swallow the object).

Make sure your pet is wearing ID.

Accidents can happen to even the best of pet owners. There are many pet identification options; your pet should have at least one form of ID (and ideally more) just in case he should escape out the door. Be sure to verify that your contact information is up-to-date.

Hallowe'en is a great time for families to get out and enjoy themselves. Many pets, however, enjoy routine and can get stressed when faced with lots of strangers, unfamiliar noises and sights. Take a few pet safety precautions, then go have a safe and happy Halloween!