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It's not just the chocolate, it's the xylitol: Halloween safety tips for pet owners

October 30, 2009 |  9:16 pm

WickedTimely reminder for pet parents: Most folks know that chocolate poses a big danger to dogs.  But fewer know that another common candy ingredient, xylitol (a sugar substitute often found in candy and chewing gum), can be almost, if not equally, dangerous.

"It doesn't take a whole lot [of xylitol], and the effects are so rapid that the window of opportunity to treat the dog is extremely small," Dana Farbman, a spokesperson for the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, told USA Today a few years back, when word began to spread of the danger posed by xylitol.

Keeping dogs away from chocolate and xylitol is just one of the ASPCA's tips for keeping your pet safe around Halloween, when candy is ubiquitous, costumes are tempting and doorbells are ringing more often than usual.  It also advises keeping pets away from wires and cords associated with electrical Halloween decorations and exercising extreme caution if you choose to light your jack-o'-lanterns using candles instead of battery-powered alternatives.  And of course, keep pets that might be scared of strangers away from the front door when expecting Trick-or-Treaters (and make sure they're wearing their ID tags, just in case). 

More Halloween safety tips, as well as a list of the most common food items that can be hazardous to pets, at the ASPCA's website. Happy (and safe) partying!

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Petey, a Yorkshire terrier, shows off his Wicked Witch costume during the fifth annual Times Square Dog Day Masquerade on Oct. 18.  Credit: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images

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