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Halloween can be a fun time for children and families. But for dogs, it can be a nightmare. Here’s what you can do to prevent a night of frights.

Candy is not for dogs.

All forms of chocolate—especially baking or dark chocolate—can be dangerous, and even lethal. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures.  Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be even more poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar with subsequent loss of coordination and seizures.

Don’t leave your dogs alone in the yard on Halloween.

You don’t want your dog teased, overly excited, or frightened by the children running amok and yelling while wearing strange, scary costumes.

Keep your dog confined and away from the door.

Not only will your doorbell be ringing, but your door will also be constantly opening and closing. Add to that the number of strangers dressed in unusual outfits, and you can understand why it’s a place your dog should be far away from. To avoid potential fearful or aggressive reactions, put your dog in a secure room away from the front door. Doing so will also prevent him from darting outside into the night.

dog diarrhea pumpkin

Keep Halloween plants, such as gourds and corn, out of reach.

Although they are relatively nontoxic, such plants can induce gastrointestinal upset should your pets ingest them in large quantities. Intestinal blockage can occur if large pieces are swallowed.

Don’t keep lit pumpkins around pets.

Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or knocking it over and causing a fire.

Keep wires and cords out of reach.

If chewed, your dog could receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock. There are more household hazards to consider.

Don’t dress your pets in costumes unless you know they’ll love it.

If you do decide that your dog needs a costume, make sure it isn’t irritating to him or unsafe. The outfit shouldn’t constrict movement, hearing, or his ability to breathe or bark.

Try on the costume before the big night.

If your dog seems stressed out, change your plans and let him go in his “birthday suit.” Festive bandanas are great alternatives!

IDs, please!

If your dog does escape and become lost, having the proper identification (and a GPS collar) will increase the chances that he’ll be returned. Just make sure the information is up-to-date, even if he has a microchip.

Remember the day after Halloween is dangerous, too.

When you take your dog out for a walk, keep an eye out for candy on the sidewalk and street. Sometimes it’s hard to see with all the leaves on the ground, so be extra alert in the coming days.

Originally published in AKC Family Dog.

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