10/29/2009 at 10:21 AM EDT
Halloween is one of our favorite holidays at PEOPLEPets.com – candy! costumes! parties! – but it can also spell trouble for your pets. Illuminated candles, pet-unfriendly chocolates and dark, crazy nights can lead to disaster if you aren't careful. We spoke with pet and baby safety expert Debra Holtzman
, author of The Safe Baby, Expanded and Revised: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living
, to get her tips on keeping Halloween fun instead of frightful. 1. Supervise pets dressed in costume.
"Be sure the costume doesn't interfere with your pet's ability to breathe, see, hear, move or bark," Holtzman tells PEOPLEPets.com. "And supervise your pet in their costume at all times." 2. Move all of your Halloween goodies out of the reach of pets.
Chocolate is toxic for animals, particularly dogs. "In addition, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts and sugarless chewing gum are poisonous to pets," Holtzman advises. "Wrappers are dangerous, too, as they can cause an intestinal obstruction." 3. Keep your pets secure in your home during Halloween festivities.
"That way, they won't have a chance to be spooked by strangers and costumes, or dart outdoors," Holtzman shares. "Remember that even the sweetest animal can act differently in new situations, or even become violent when they feel threatened." In addition, it's a good idea to keep your pet indoors to avoid any unruly Halloween jokesters, even if you have a fenced-in yard. "Black cats are particularly at risk," she cautions. 5. Place Halloween decorations out of the reach of pets.
"If chewed, [decorative lighting?] can cause mouth burns or a life-threatening electrical shock," says Holtzman. "Fake spider webs, tinsels and other dangly decorations should be placed out of reach of pets, since they pose an entanglement risk." 6. Illuminate jack-o'-lanterns with flashlights.
"Avoid candles," cautions Holtzman. "Curious pets may get burned by the flame or knock it over and cause a fire."
Remember, safety is the key to a happy Howl-oween!See more Halloween advice on PEOPLEPets.com:Kitties in Costume! 5 Tips for Dressing Your Cat This HalloweenHallow-WOW! 5 Tips for Photographing Your Pet in Costume