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Although trick or treating has been cancelled in the Chula Vista region, your family likely will still celebrate Halloween. If your furry pal joins the festivities, plenty of holiday hazards can turn Halloween from a delightful scare to a terrifying tragedy. As the spooky season kicks into high gear, ensure your pet experiences only treats—but not too many—and no tricks that may lead to an emergency veterinary visit. Here are five tips to help you and your four-legged friend safely enjoy all the Halloween fun.

#1: Exercise your pet well before dark to avoid nighttime mishaps

All manner of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls come out on Halloween, and some may startle your pet, while other mischief-makers can inadvertently or purposefully cause your furry pal harm. Avoid any potential trouble that creeps out after dark by exercising your dog during the day, when scary costumes and shrieking decorations are less likely to frighten them.

#2: Keep the candy stash out of your hungry pet’s reach

Do your children—both two- and four-legged—gaze at you beseechingly when you break out the Halloween candy? The slightest wrapper rustle seems to bring your entire household running for treats, but favorite Halloween goodies are bad for your pet. Common treats that fill hollow pumpkins and other candy dishes that can harm your pet include:

  • Chocolate — One of the most popular—and delicious—Halloween treats can pose a serious threat to your pet. Most chocolate candy is milk chocolate, which contains much less theobromine and caffeine than Baker’s chocolate, but if your furry pal sneaks into your chocolate stash and eats too much dark chocolate with these toxic ingredients, you may notice vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, drooling, panting, and increased thirst and urination. In severe chocolate toxicity cases, you may see muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure.
  • Sugar-free candy and gum — Xylitol, which now is more commonly used as a sugar substitute, is extremely toxic to dogs. The small amounts of xylitol that sweeten sugar-free gum and candy can cause severe hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure, or death.

In addition to chocolate and xylitol, consider the wrappers your pet will likely ingest along with their sweet treat. Without thumbs, your four-legged friend will probably eat as many wrappers as candies, if they scarf down your Halloween candy stash. Foil and plastic wrappers can create a gastrointestinal blockage, while the additional fat, sugar, and calories from all the candy can lead to life-threatening pancreatitis.

#3: Check the fit of your pet’s Halloween costume

Adorable pet costumes, from fierce lions for cats to silly bucking bronco outfits for dogs, abound on Halloween. You may find dressing up your pet irresistible, but take precautions with their outfit. Ensure the costume is the appropriate size, and fits your pet correctly. Remove all dangling ties, ribbons, bows, buttons, or other items that can be easily chewed and swallowed. From time to time, check that your pet can see, breathe, and move comfortably in the costume. Occasionally, a costume can slip and restrict vision, breathing, and movement. If your pet prefers a less extravagant costume, consider a festive bandana or simply their birthday suit.

#4: Block your pet’s access to Halloween decor

Most pets prefer to stay well away from frightening Halloween decor, but some will eagerly check out the unusual household additions. From fake spiderwebs and glow sticks, to candlelit pumpkins and corn stalks, plenty of holiday hazards can harm your pet. The most common signs seen in pets who have chewed or ingested your decor include drooling, decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea, while a swallowed corn cob or battery-operated jack-o-lantern candle can require surgical removal and intensive hospitalization. If you’re going all out with spooky home decorations, ensure your creepy adornments are well out of your pet’s reach.

#5: Monitor your pet’s comfort level with Halloween scares

While you may enjoy a good scare during the spooky season, your furry pal may have other ideas. Shrieking horror movies blaring from the TV, shrill screams and startling movements from motion-activated decorations, and creepy costumes can frighten your pet, who does not understand what is happening. Signs your pet may not enjoy all the Halloween frights include:

  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Inability to relax
  • Drooling
  • Clingy behavior
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Decreased appetite
  • Hiding
  • Inappropriate elimination

Nervous pets may become anxious around unusual costumes, mobile decorations, and loud movies, so keep a close eye on them for signs of stress, fear, and anxiety, as you settle into the Halloween spirit.

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Halloween is a time for mischief and tricks, but we hope your pet enjoys only treats during the holiday season. However, if your furry pal gets into Halloween-related trouble, contact our Otay Pet Vets team for help.