Halloween pet safety tips

The National Retail Federation found that over 15% of people are planning to dress up their animals this Halloween.

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Halloween is on Wednesday. Whether you are bringing your pet along to trick-or-treat or including your dog or cat in a spooky celebration, here are a few tips to keep your four-legged friend safe and happy this Halloween.

The Humane Society for Shelter Pets recommends the following to ensure your pet's Halloween is truly spooktacular:

1. Cofortable Non-Scary Costumes: Costumes are scary to pets, whether worn by familiar people, strangers, or even pets themselves. The National Retail Federation found that over 15% of people are planning to dress up their animals this Halloween. If you cant stand leaving Fido out of the family costume, make sure to avoid pet costumes that include hats, masks, or shoes. The American Veterinary Medical Association reminds owners not to leave costumed pets unattended.

2. No Candy for Kitty (or Pup): Most people are aware that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but hard candies and other sweets containing the ingredient Xylitol, commonly found in gums and mints, can also pose a health risk to your pet. Often in the excitement and chaos of Halloween night, these dangerous treats may be left within easy reach of curious canine noses. As with all human food make sure your candy is placed out of reach of your pet. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, owners should be on the lookout for warning signs like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures. If you suspect your dog or cat has gotten into the candy stash, don't hesitate to call the Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680 or online, or contact your local vet.

3. Safe Accessories: Dogs are not the only pets known to stick their noses and mouths where they don't belong. Due to their curious nature, cats can't help but be attracted to glow sticks and shiny costume jewelry. While not usually life-threatening, treating a glow stick as a chew toy can result in mouth pain and irritation, and lead to excessive drooling and foaming. The Pet Poison Helpline suggests you attempt to wash as much of the chemical off of the fur as you can, as self-grooming can contribute to further poisoning. If left in reaching distance, cheap costume jewelry can also become a major choking hazard for both dogs and cats.

Pets are always a joy to include in the holiday fun. Just don't forget that even though you may treat your four-legged friend like a human, your pets have some special requirements and restrictions when it comes to celebrating Halloween, said HSSP Director Diana Culp.