For the love of you pet: All tricks and no treats for your pets

With Halloween coming up, what should I be concerned about with my pet?

Halloween is a fun time for the family, but don't forget about your four-legged friends. Help them enjoy the festivities by preventing accidents and mishaps. Don't feed your pets Halloween candy, particularly candy containing chocolate or xylitol, which is commonly found in sugar-free candy and gum.

Dark chocolate is much more toxic than milk chocolate; however, anything not normally in your pet's diet can cause gastrointestinal upset. If your dog starts showing signs of toxicity or you are concerned that they may have ingested something they shouldn't have, contact your local veterinarian immediately. Some signs you may see include vomiting, diarrhea, panting or pacing.

Make sure that you keep all candles and jack-o'-lanterns out of reach of pets, as well as decorations that they could potentially ingest. These items may cause a foreign body obstruction, which would require surgery to fix.

Pets are naturally curious and may burn themselves or knock over candles or other open flames. Be sure to keep all glow sticks away from your pet as well. They contain toxic material that can be harmful to your furry friends.

Keep your pet safe by keeping them in a separate room while trick-or-treaters are visiting your home. Make sure that your pet has multiple forms of identification (ie. microchip, collar, ID tag with phone number, etc).

If you plan to take your pet with you while trick-or-treating, make sure you use a tight collar so that you have complete control in case they decide to chase a goblin, zombie or mummy.

Even the best-trained animals may become spooked or aggressive, so thoroughly consider your pet's role in Halloween and trick-or-treating. Reflective tape added to your pet's costume or collar is always a good idea if you are going to be out after dark.

If you plan to dress your pet up in a costume, make sure that it fits properly. Confirm that they can breathe easily, move comfortably, see, hear and open their mouth. Make sure there are no small parts that your pet could chew off and swallow.

Never leave your pet unsupervised while he or she is wearing their costume. Prior to Halloween, get your pet accustomed to the costume, make sure it fits properly and ensure that they look spooktacular. If they appear to be stressed about being dressed up, it may be best to remove the costume.

Some pets are more social than others, so if your fur baby is shy, it may be best to avoid the chaos. If your pet has a tendency to bite, then it may also be best to keep him or her in a separate room until the excitement dies down. Be sure to place them in a cool, comfortable environment with plenty of food, water and toys for a distraction.

We want your Halloween to be fun and safe for the entire family. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or your local veterinarian.

Dr. Shana Bohac has a veterinary practice at Hill crest Animal Hospital in Victoria. She works on both small animals and equine patients. Submit questions to drshanabohac@hotmail.com.