Owning pets is as American as baseball, apple pie, and gorging on Halloween candy every October 31. Today, there are roughly 43.3 million households with dogs and 38.9 million households with cats, and as a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your cats and dogs are protected and healthy at all times. There are certain times of the year, however, that are trickier than others when it comes to pet safety, and Halloween can be especially dangerous.

Fall is finally here, and though that means your pets can frolic around your yard and have fun in the falling leaves, you have to be extremely careful when it comes to what your pets are ingesting. Halloween is just around the corner, and that means all those households with cats, dogs, and other pets will likely be stocking their drawers and cupboards with sugary candy.

This year, follow these simple guidelines to keep the family pet safe during the Halloween season.

Save the chocolate for the kids and not your pets

Chocolate is perhaps the number one reason why people love Halloween. Dressing up and going trick-or-treating is a lot of fun, but chocolate is what it’s really all about. Chocolate, however, should only be given to adorable trick-or-treaters (and yourself). Keep it away from your pets.

How worried should I be if my dog already ate chocolate?

Chocolate is toxic to many animals, especially dogs. Depending on the type of chocolate and the amount consumed, your dog could be at risk of a serious medical emergency. You shouldn’t worry too much if your dog snuck a single piece of a candy bar that fell to the floor, but if your pet gets into an entire bowl of chocolate, consider seeking emergency veterinary assistance. Visit a 24 hour animal hospital and get your dog looked at right away.

It’s not just candy you have to worry about!

If your dog notices a bowl of uneaten candy sitting by the door, they will certainly chow down on it, but that’s not all you have to watch out for around Halloween time. Dogs and cats often bite on anything they can get their paws on, and that includes Halloween props or costumes. Do your best to keep all Halloween items, costumes, and decorations out of sight and out of reach so your pets don’t ingest anything that could harm them. Try to keep all Halloween decorations in the front yard, away from the areas where your dog spends time outdoors.

Help! My dog ate my…

If it’s too late and your pet already ate something dangerous, visit a 24-hour animal hospital to address the veterinary emergency. Every year around Halloween, our 24-hour animal hospital in Tucson has to remove foreign bodies that were eaten by an overexcited dog. Emergency veterinarians can diagnose and treat a wide variety of internal medicine disorders caused by ingesting foreign substances or items. If your dog or cat ate something they shouldn’t have, experienced internal medicine teams can help remove those foreign bodies as quickly as possible and allow your pets to begin their recovery process.

Don’t stress too much this Halloween season, but make sure to keep all that candy, chocolate, and costume props away from your pets. If your pet does ingest something they shouldn’t have and you need a 24-hour animal hospital in Tucson, visit Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center for assistance.