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by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Some pets might not mind dressing up for Halloween, but, for others, it could be a stressful experience best avoided.

With Halloween approaching, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association and its member veterinarians are sharing the following tips for keeping your pet safe not only on the spookiest night of the year but also in the weeks leading up to it:

Keep candy and chocolate away from pets. Holiday treats and candies can make your pet quite sick. If eaten, even candy wrappers can cause an upset stomach.

Unsweetened, dark, bittersweet and baking chocolate can be toxic to pets, especially dogs, who are more prone to eat it. If your dog eats chocolate, call your veterinarian or an animal poison control center, as treatment may need to be rendered immediately. Symptoms of toxicity include excitement, nervousness, trembling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, muscle spasms and seizures.

OVMA President Dr. Todd McNabb of East Hills Animal Clinic in Clackamas said, “It is important to keep gum, candy or breath fresheners containing the sweetener xylitol away from your pet. When a pet eats even a small amount of xylitol, it causes a surge of insulin, and the animal’s blood sugar may drop quickly and dangerously. Cases of liver damage have also been associated with ingestion of xylitol. If you suspect your pet has ingested xylitol, some signs to look for are depression, loss of coordination and vomiting. The signs of illness may occur within minutes to days of ingesting xylitol. If you see these signs, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.”

Keep pets in when trick or treaters are out. If you will be answering your door for trick-or-treaters, keep pets in a quiet part of the house. Pets can become overexcited, confused or frightened by trick or treaters in costume.

Watch for open doors and make sure your pets have ID tags and/or microchips in case they do get out. Remind your guests that your normally friendly pet may want to be left alone. Young trick or treaters may be scared of dogs that run excitedly toward them when their owner answers the door.

Outdoor pets, especially black cats, should be kept indoors on Halloween.

Decorations are potential tricks. Halloween decorations such as fake cobwebs should be kept out of reach of pets. Glow sticks can be hazardous if chewed or ingested. While not usually life-threatening, they can cause mouth pain and irritation, as well as profuse drooling and foaming at the mouth.

Light strands, loose wires and electrical cords can be a serious hazard to your pet, especially puppies, who may chew them.

Never leave candles, such as those in jack-o’-lanterns, unattended, especially around puppies and kittens.

Never allow your pets to eat a leftover jack-o’-lantern, as a rotted, moldy pumpkin can make them seriously ill.

Costumes may not be a treat. Some pets might not mind “dressing up” for Halloween, but, for others, it could be a stressful experience best avoided.

According to McNabb, “costumes should fit properly and not hinder your pet’s movement, vision or breathing. Have your pet try out the costume several times before Halloween so it can get used to wearing it.”

The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association is a nonprofit organization of veterinarians who are dedicated to helping people give their animals a high quality of life. For more pet health care tips, visit or contact your veterinarian.

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