Halloween is full of fun and excitement for you and your family but is one of the holidays that is enjoyed more by people than by pets. It can be a stressful, scary and potentially dangerous time for our companion animals.

Masks and costumes may be disorienting and frightening, pets may be targeted by pranksters and unattended chocolate candy can result in a trip to the vet for the family dog. The noise and excitement can be very stressful on your pets and may result in panic and other uncharacteristic behavior and the stress can continue long after October 31.

Companion animals are creatures of habit who thrive on daily routines. When those routines are disrupted by noisy and unfamiliar holiday festivities, animals may become agitated and disoriented. Every year, on Halloween night or the day after, veterinarians nationwide see pet injuries that could have been easily avoided. Animal shelters see an increased number of lost dogs who were likely frightened by something and got separated from their families. Pet parents must take proactive steps to ensure that Halloween is safe for their furry family members.

As a general rule, you should plan on keeping your cats, dogs and other pets indoors on Halloween night when the trick-or-treaters are roaming the neighborhood. No matter how tempting it may be, don’t take your dog trick-or-treating. Even the most well behaved and trained dogs can become frightened or aggressive in the midst of the noise and confusion of Halloween. And trick-or-treating children may be fearful of dogs. If you need to walk your dog on Halloween evening, do it before the trick-or-treaters hit the streets.

If you will be handing out candy to the little ghosts and goblins, the best plan is to keep your pets in a separate part of the house – away from the noise of the excited children and the doorbells and the constantly opening doors. If you want your pooch to greet the trick or treaters, make sure he’s on a leash since his reactions to visitors in masks and costumes may be unpredictable. If they become frightened or feel threatened they may act aggressively.

Cats and dogs can quickly dart through an opened door so make sure they are wearing up-to-date ID tags. If for any reason your pet becomes lost during the excitement of the night, a collar and tags or a microchip will greatly increase the chance that the two of you will be reunited.