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9 Precautions to Keep Your Dog Safe on Halloween

For kids, Halloween is a magical time filled with fun, candy, and plenty of spooky costumes. For dogs, Halloween can be dangerous because of hazards like open doors, potentially poisonous candy, and unsafe dog costumes.

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Use battery-operated candles

Candles help create a spooky Halloween ambiance, but they can also be a safety hazard, says Ashley Jacobs, CEO of pet care company Sitting for a Cause. “Avoid the risk of your dog accidentally knocking over a jack-o-lantern with a real candle inside it and consequently causing a fire or getting burned by instead opting for battery operated candles,” she suggests.

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Keep dogs inside

There’s too much going on during Halloween to safely keep your pup outside, Jacobs says: “Halloween can be dangerous for pets left outdoors due to the ‘trick’ part of ‘trick-or-treat.’ Keep your pets safely inside away from pranksters who may take advantage of your pup when he or she is unattended outside.” Here’s what trick-or-treaters are really thinking when they come to your house.

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Don’t give out chocolate

It’s a childhood favorite, but chocolate and dogs is a dangerous combination. In fact, the ASPCA says that the methylxanthines in chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or death in dogs. To combat this danger, Nick Braun, founder and CEO of Pet Insurance Quotes, not only removes the chocolates from his son’s trick-or-treating bag right away, he doesn’t even hand out chocolate at his home. These are other toxic foods for dogs you should avoid.

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Keep your dog away from the door

Even if your dog loves visitors, it can be hard to predict what he or she will do as your constantly open the door for trick-or-treaters. Georgette Wilson, DVM, veterinarian for Hartz, says that an open door can be an invitation for a scared or curious dog to dash outside. “Pet owners should ensure that their dog has a safe place in the house away from the front door,” she says.

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Be careful with costumes

Although adorable, pet costumes can pose a hazard to dogs. “If you decide to dress your pet up in a fun Halloween costume, make sure it is comfortable, flame resistant, allows for normal movement, and does not block the pet’s vision,” Wilson says. If she’s comfortable being dressed up, your pooch could look as cute as these pugs in costume.

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Don’t take your dog trick-or-treating

Trick-or-treating might seem like a fun family activity to you, but your dog might view it differently. The Humane Society of Missouri says dogs might become difficult to deal with as you’re walking around, leading to a lost dog or even a dog who’s bitten someone.

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Reconsider your seasonal plants

Plants can make the holiday more festive, but make sure you know which are toxic to dogs. Place any potentially hazardous plants on higher surfaces where your dog can’t reach, recommends Jim Hanophy, CEO of Operation Kindness, a no-kill animal shelter in Texas.

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Make sure Halloween decorations are dog safe

Curious dogs might not understand that your cute Halloween decorations are only for looking at and not, say, eating. Hanophy says your dog shouldn’t be able to access any decorations, especially things like strings of lights and electrical cords.

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Watch out for the holiday goodies

In addition to chocolate, there’s a whole host of human treats your pup shouldn’t indulge in. The list includes alcohol, caffeine, citrus, raisins, nuts, garlic, and xyitol, an artificial sweetener used in gum and other products, according to the ASPCA. These are signs your healthy dog is actually sick.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest