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4 tips to ensure Halloween isn’t a nightmare for pets.

1. Make sure dressing up isn’t a scary occasion. Pet costumes are an increasingly popular item at Halloween and throughout the year, with 18 percent of Halloween celebrants planning to dress pets in costumes, according to the National Retail Federation. You may see a lot of pumpkins, hot dogs and superheroes running around this year, since those are the top pet Halloween costume choices, the Federation says.

While dressing a pet up may provide a good photo opportunity, remember that many pets do not like costumes, so don’t force it.

If a pet does like dressing up, safety and comfort are the first things to consider when choosing the pet’s costume. If the costume constricts movement, blocks vision or has multiple parts that could easily be chewed off, then it is not a good choice. Also, be sure to supervise pets at all times while they are wearing costumes.

If you will be putting a pet in a costume, gradually introduce the pet to the costume ahead of the holiday or Halloween event to get the pet familiar with wearing it.

2. Keep pets away from trick-or-treaters. For pets that are easily frightened (or those not used to being around a lot of people, especially children), Halloween can be a nightmare, with strangers dressed in frightening or unusual outfits and masks. Even a familiar face can become unrecognizable to a pet when dressed up.

Pets—especially those that can be shy, wary or aggressive around people—should be kept away from trick-or-treaters or party guests. Put pets in another room and close all the doors and windows in that safe space. They can relax with favorite toys, and you can even turn on the television or play calming music for pets.

Keep in mind that trick-or-treating hours are not a good time for dog walks, as children will be out and about in many neighborhoods. If you can’t walk the dog earlier in the day, then plan some indoor activities and playtime to provide the dog with exercise.

If the pets are typically outside, bring them inside on Halloween night to avoid malicious tricksters who might try to frighten or harm animals. Also, a neighborhood that is normally quiet but becomes busy and loud on Halloween night can cause undue stress to outside pets.

3. Make sure your pet’s identity is no mystery.Even if pets will be inside on Halloween night or during Halloween celebrations, you should still ensure the pet is wearing a tag with current contact information in case the pet somehow escapes the house. This is also a great time to consider microchipping your pets.

If a pet somehow slips out the door on a night like Halloween, proper identification will be vital to ensuring that you and the pet are reunited as promptly as possible.

4. Don’t let sweet treats and decorations be a nightmare. Halloween treats pose another danger for pets. While most pet owners are aware that chocolate and other candies can be deadly if ingested by pets, younger trick-or-treaters or non-pet-owning guests may not know. Halloween party guests and other visitors should be reminded not to share chocolate with the dog, no matter how much he or she begs. Keep some pet-friendly treats on hand instead.

As the popularity of this holiday continues to increase, so does the number of Halloween and fall-themed decorations. Take special care to keep pets away from Jack-o-Lanterns with real candles inside and other Halloween décor that could cause harm if chewed or ingested, including wires to decorations. Halloween pumpkin or corn displays that are uncooked and potentially moldy can cause problems such as gastrointestinal upset, intestinal problems if eaten in large chunks, or even neurological problems if moldy, according to PetMD, so keep pets away from them.

Do you have a Halloween safety tip? If so leave it in comments.

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