Halloween is a time of fun and mischief for humans, but it can present hidden dangers for your pets. Being informed and mindful about these risks can avoid sickness or death for your pets, and a trip to an emergency veterinarian for you. Special risks at Halloween time include:

Poisoning from Halloween candy

Although chocolate candies are harmless for humans in moderation, chocolate can be deadly to dogs and cats. While most cats usually don't eat sweets, they may still ingest enough to sicken them if coaxed by a child that normally gives them cat treats.

Dogs, on the other hand, can be accustomed to receiving sweet treats from indulgent owners, and develop a sweet tooth. Halloween  presents a special problem because it is a time when children have additional access to an excessive amount of candy, and may either feed chocolate to their pets or leave it where it is accessible.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning

Because it is the caffeine in the chocolate that causes the problems, symptoms can include restlessness and rapid breathing. Vomiting and diarrhea can also occur, and may include blood. An excessive intake may result in seizures or death. 

If poisoning is suspected, your pet should be taken to an emergency veterinarian for treatment, especially if severe symptoms occur.

Physical injuries

Halloween is used by some misguided or sadistic individuals as a reason to harm cats. Black cats in particular are in danger from ritualistic killing or mutilation, because of their association with witches in folklore.

Black cats are also in danger of being taken by persons looking for a prop for a Halloween party. After the party, they are tossed out the door. It is for this reason that many pet adoption services won't allow black cats to be adopted near Halloween.

Pets can also face physical danger from vehicles if they are excited or frightened by trick-or-treaters or other celebrants. Trick-or-treaters will leave gates open as they enter a yard, and your pet has ample opportunities to run through the repeatedly opening door and into the street.

Although you may want your pet to share in the festivities, your pet and visiting children will both be safer if the pet is restrained or kept behind a baby gate or another form of containment.

If you use candles inside your Halloween pumpkin, you must keep a close eye on your cat. The pumpkin will not only tease their natural curiosity, but it also may be occupying their spot on the windowsill. A singed tail or a burn from hot wax could occur if a cat is curious or "accidentally" knocks the pumpkin from its perch.

To learn more about animal safety, talk to a veterinarian clinic like After Hours Veterinary Emergency Clinic Inc