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Holiday tips to keep animals safe

A pack of ghosts and goblins at your door can scare pets, but ghouls are not the only thing to beware of on Halloween. Other holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years can also add to a pets woes.

Kellyann Conway, director of animal training and behavior at Animal Planet's Pet Video and a certified, award-winning trainer, offers a number tips to make sure everyone has a howlin' good time this Halloween and beyond.

First, beware of unsafe holiday decorations. Wires and electrical cords are an invitation to teething pets or those who just like to chew on whatever is available. Use a cord container to prevent wires from being chewed or gnawed. Also, avoid dangling decorations that pets may become entangled in.

Carving a pumpkin is fun, but placing a candle inside of it may be hazardous to a pet. Candles are easily knocked over and can burn wagging tails, paws and noses. So forget the candle and use a glow stick or battery-operated tea light instead. The same goes for real flame Christmas decorations.

Keep any candy up and away from a pets' reach. Most people know that dogs and cats shouldn't have candy - especially chocolate, which is toxic to them, but even the candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed. So remember, no matter how much a pet begs for a sweet, there should be no sharing of the good stuff. If it looks like a pet has eaten something he shouldn't have, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Before the trick-or-treaters begin, or that early morning present opening frenzy takes place, take the dog on a nice long walk. The exercise will help it relax later. Make sure the dog's on leash during the walk in case the walk brings an encounter with early trick or treaters. Dogs can easily be "spooked" by costumes, especially those with little people in them.

While most pets prefer to go au-naturel, some so seem to enjoy dressing-up. If a pet will be in costume for a holiday make sure it's safe and comfortable. Always avoid masks or any other costume parts that might impair his or her vision, hearing or breathing.

Pets can be easily overwhelmed by trick or treaters or holiday visitors that are continually coming and going. Manage pets by limiting their access to the door. Use a leash or a baby gate or put him or her in his crate or even in a separate room while holiday visitors are about. Turn on some music to muffle the knocking, the doorbell ringing or just the general sound of people having fun. Prepare a yummy chew or catnip toy to help keep the animal occupied so he knows what a good animal he or she is.

Finally, keep a pet inside on Halloween. People have been known to tease, injure or steal pets and even worse on holidays.

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