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Halloween is a terror for pets: How to keep yours safe

File: Dogs dressed in Halloween costumes are displayed during the annual Haute Dog Howl'oween parade in Long Beach, California on October 30, 2016.
File: Dogs dressed in Halloween costumes are displayed during the annual Haute Dog Howl'oween parade in Long Beach, California on October 30, 2016.
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
File: Dogs dressed in Halloween costumes are displayed during the annual Haute Dog Howl'oween parade in Long Beach, California on October 30, 2016.
File: A dog dressed as a pig during the annual Haute Dog Howl'oween parade in Long Beach, California on October 30, 2016.
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
File: Dogs dressed in Halloween costumes are displayed during the annual Haute Dog Howl'oween parade in Long Beach, California on October 30, 2016.
File: Dogs dressed in Halloween costumes are displayed during the annual Haute Dog Howl'oween parade in Long Beach, California on October 30, 2016.
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images


Between trick-or-treaters and that Halloween playlist, it might be surprisingly easy to overlook certain steps to ensure your pet's safety. From chocolate-filled treats being slipped to your pooch, to cute but uncomfortable costumes, here are some ways to prevent any visits with a real vet in the middle of the "Monster Mash."

Hot dog costume? 

There's just something about your four-legged companion wearing a dinosaur costume that's too adorable to resist — but not all of them will mirror your enthusiasm. If your pet doesn't want to wear a costume, you shouldn't force them, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles president Madeline Bernstein told KPCC. 

If you are going to dress your pet up, and maybe try your luck in a pet costume contest, make sure that it’s a pet-appropriate costume. She said to make sure there's nothing constricting your pet's natural ability to move — or use the restroom.  

"Some pets don’t mind wearing sweaters and costumes, but the costumes can be pretty complicated, and they have moving parts or things that make them feel like they're off-balance," Bernstein said. 

Spray-painting a costume onto your pet should not be an alternative, no matter how realistic it looks, she added. Any paints that are store-bought can can cause serious illnesses and even suffocation. 

Beware the outdoors 

There's nothing wrong with taking your dog for a walk with its costume on, but Bernstein recommends that you don't take your pet trick-or-treating. 

Err on the side of caution if you do take your dog for a stroll. Chances are they won't hesitate to get their paws on some candy — or chocolate, which can be very toxic to dogs, she said. 

If possible, pet owners are urged to keep their pets indoors, and even away from the door if you plan on passing out candy. That way, you eliminate any opportunities for your pet to get overly excited and run away.

“You're just opening your pets up for all sorts of stupidity on Halloween,” she said.  

If your pet does get out of the house, Bernstein said to check with neighbors first. The majority of missing pets are usually found nearby — but they should have updated identification tags, she added.

Paw-proof decor 

While keeping your furry companion indoors is preferred, the potential for mishaps still lingers. Halloween is just the first in a string of holidays that can turn aesthetically pleasing elements into potentially harmful things for your pet. 

Approach decorating like you would approach baby-proofing your home, Bernstein said. Things like candles, tinsel and various wires throughout the house can cause a variety of injuries. 

Knowing your pet's favorite nooks in the house can go a long way when decorating. 

“If you prepare in advance for what could go wrong with your pet, then nothing will go wrong, and you won’t have any emergency trips to the vet, you won’t be broken-hearted because your dog or cat got away and you can’t find them," she said.

Have a howlingly happy Halloween!