Protect your furry friend during the scariest holiday of the year.

By Ardenis Perez

When caught up in the spooky spirit, it's easy to lose sight of the hazards this holiday may pose for our pets. "Although Halloween is a fun time for people, it can be a stressful time for our dogs and cats," says Melinda Wood, DVM, MS, DACVIM, scientific affairs manager at Royal Canin. Here are the top risks and how to avoid them.

Beware of Candy

"Eating candy can potentially cause gastrointestinal upset," says Wood. Chocolate, which contains caffeine and theobromine, may lead to life-threatening symptoms like increased heart rate and seizures. The artificial sweetener xylitol causes liver failure and low blood sugar. To prevent ingestion, make sure you keep candy away from dogs and cats, says Joanne George, a pet expert and owner of Smiley the Therapy Dog. Keep paws off by placing candy bowls in hard-to-reach places.

Beware of Trick-or-Treating Brouhaha

A constantly ringing doorbell is distressing to pets, and when you open the door for trick-or-treaters, your dog or cat could slip outside without you noticing. Put your furbaby in another room away from the door, and make sure he gets a good amount of physical activity during the day to keep him relaxed, suggests George. "Owners should make sure pets have proper identification in case they do get lost," says Wood.

Watch Out for Decorations

Ingesting decorations can cause gastrointestinal blockage. Lights can be a hazard if your pet happens to chew on them, risking cuts by glass shards or even electrical shock, warns Wood. Halloween decor should always be pet-friendly, safe and secure. The best way to prevent accidents is to keep your animals in a confined area. Immediately seek help from your vet if your dog or cat happens to ingest a harmful substance or shows signs of illness.