Veterinarians are warning pet owners about the potential dangers looming during Halloween season. The most common health hazard is the ingestion of candy. Candy containing the artificial sweetener xylitol, discarded wrappers, and all forms of chocolate pose significant risks to your pet’s well-being if consumed. Doctors recommend that pet owners keep all candy in a confined, elevated location, like a pantry. Symptoms of ingesting harmful toxins include vomiting, diarrhea, accelerated breathing or heart rate, loss of coordination, and seizures. Also, keep pets in a safe area to avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters. Constant foot traffic of strangers in costumes can be stressful for certain animals. If a pet is prone to running away, the continuous opening and closing of a door for costumed strangers could significantly increase the risk of a family pet getting outside. Owners should confine their pets to a safe, secure area during trick-or-treat hours, and ensure they are always wearing identification tags and are properly microchipped. A study conducted by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association shows only about 22 percent of lost dogs brought into shelters were reunited with their families, while 52 percent of dogs with a microchip were returned to their owners. “At the end of the day, no one knows a pet’s quirks and habits, either good or bad, better than its owners,” said Dr. Brett Levitzke, chief medical officer of Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group. “Think about these habits when decorating or storing candy and if you believe that your pet has consumed candy of any kind, immediately contact your family vet or 24-hour animal hospital. We want everyone to have a safe and fun Halloween, including pets.” Pet owners should also be aware that Halloween decorations can also pose a serious threat. Jack-o-lanterns, candles and electric cords should be kept in areas out of reach of household pets for everyone’s safety. Editor's note: Information provided by Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group of Brooklyn, N.Y.