Halloween is the best time of year to play tricks on unsuspecting family and friends. However, when you or others play tricks on your four-legged friend, the consequences can be dangerous. Fortunately, you can safely “treat” your pet to fun Halloween activities. See how common Halloween scenarios stack up as unpleasant tricks or delightful treats for your furry pal.

Trick: Leaving the candy bowl unattended

While the neighborhood’s trick-or-treaters would love to see an unattended candy bowl left on your porch, your pet will be unable to resist the same unmonitored bowl in your home. Kids who gorge themselves on chocolate may suffer from no more than a stomach ache, but your dog can experience a toxic event. Not only is chocolate toxic to dogs, but also xylitol, a popular sugar substitute. In addition to these items’ toxicity potential, most sweet treats are high in fat or sugar, which can lead to pancreatitis. And, don’t forget about the wrappers! Your furry pal won’t waste time unwrapping candy—after all, having no thumbs makes that difficult—and they may quickly ingest the wrappers, which can wad up and cause a gastrointestinal obstruction.

Treat: Giving your pet healthy snack options

Instead of giving your pet the opportunity to sniff out their own, potentially toxic, treats, offer healthy alternatives. Morsels of lean meats like boneless, unseasoned chicken breast and salmon make tasty snacks, and fresh or frozen fruits and veggies also appeal to many pets. Ensure you avoid grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, and other foods toxic for your pet.

Trick: Stuffing your pet into this year’s most popular costume

Tiny Chihuahuas can make adorably fierce lions, and cats can look cute in almost any outfit, but many costumes put your furry pal in danger. Be on the lookout for ties, ribbons, buttons, and other pieces that can easily be chewed off and swallowed. Ensure the costume fits properly, with no tight areas or pieces that might slip and limit eyesight, mobility, or breathing. Monitor your pet for signs of stress, such as a crouched or stiff posture, widened eyes, and a tense facial expression that indicates their discomfort.

Treat: Letting your pet wear their birthday suit

Rather than stuffing your pet into an ill-fitting costume, let them wear their birthday suit. Or, help your pet feel festive with a Halloween-themed bandana or collar. If your pet displays any stress or anxiety at the sight of a Halloween costume, opt for a minimal outfit instead.

Trick: Greeting all manner of scary strangers with your pet by your side

Although your pet may typically love children, the constant arrival of overexcited kids dressed in outlandish outfits can unsettle the most easy-going pet. Plus, as the door opens frequently, and you are distracted while admiring the scary costumes, your pet has the perfect opportunity to dart out into the night.

Treat: Letting your pet relax with a long-lasting treat away from the front door

Keep your pet safe by confining them away from the front door, and let them settle in for a relaxing evening with a long-lasting treat or new chew toy. Turn on the TV or play soft music to help muffle the children’s shrieks and shouts and the doorbell’s constant chiming. Position at least one closed gate or door between your pet and the front door to prevent a horrifying Halloween catastrophe. Meanwhile, your furry pal can enjoy slurping the peanut butter or canned food from their rubber Kong.

Trick: Decorating your home to the nines with lit jack-o’-lanterns, fake spider webs, and harvest-themed decor

Ensuring your home is the best holiday-dressed on your block may be at the top of your to-do list, but many decorations pose a health hazard to your pet, who will want to sniff or knock over the jack-o’-lanterns with candles inside, or eat the pumpkin itself, which can cause gastrointestinal upset. Fake spider webs look fun to play with and bat around, but your pet may swallow the sticky mess and require emergency surgery. That display of corncobs, corn stalks, squash, and other harvest items may be gorgeous, but your pet will likely see only a bounty of food available for the tasting.

Many of these items can become stuck in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, or your pet may eat them after they have become rotten sitting on the porch and cause a seriously upset stomach.

Treat: Blocking your pet’s access to Halloween decorations

Keep your pet safe by blocking their access to your decorations, placing the decorative, but dangerous, items well out of your pet’s reach, or behind baby gates or other barriers. Nothing ruins a holiday faster than destroyed decorations and a trip to the emergency veterinary hospital.

Halloween doesn’t have to be a fur-raising holiday for your pet, but if they run afoul of a trick—or eat too many treats—contact our Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team for help.