Halloween is the paw-fect excuse for two-legged families to scare themselves silly — but for furry friends, Fright Night can be downright dangerous. So how do you keep it from becoming your pet’s worst nightmare? Look the evil in the eye and take the ap-paw-priate precautions.

sweet and scary

The most vicious villain pets face in this spooky season is a familiar foe: chocolate. In fact, Petplan reports that in 2013, pets were 140% more likely to battle chocolate-related poisoning over the week around Halloween than at other times of the year. And when you consider that Petplan’s reimbursements for chocolate toxicity treatment during that same week averaged $627, it’s enough to turn any pet parent pale with fright.

Why is chocolate so dangerous to dogs? Chocolate contains toxins like methylxanthines and caffeine that can cause gastrointestinal upset and an elevated heart rate, sometimes to dangerous levels. The darker the chocolate, the more concentrated these toxins are, and the more deadly. If you notice your pet experiencing vomiting, increased thirst, diarrhea, weakness or hyper-excitability, call your vet. Petplan’s Vets for Pets blog has the full dirt on chocolate toxicity – including which pets are at higher risk and how to handle an emergency.

Chocolate isn’t the only monstrous menace your pet could encounter this Howl-o-ween. Sink your fangs into these other seasonal spooks that could haunt furry friends:

ghostly get-ups

If your pet will tolerate a costume — and many dogs don them with wags! — take a moment before suiting up to make sure it’s free of frills that could be chewed off and swallowed. Be on alert for fringe and feathers, loose buttons and leaky stuffing.

bad wrap

You might have remembered to store the candy stash safely in a cupboard, but don’t forget to tell the family to be just as diligent about disposing of their wrappers. These sweet-smelling temptations may be just as good as the whole candy bar to your pet, but they can become lodged in your pet’s intestines if eaten, causing an obstruction that could require surgery. A lidded bin should keep trash out of paw’s reach.

raisin' a fuss

For two-legged trick-or-treaters, raisins may make a healthier alternative to sugary sweets — but for pets, they are equally as toxic. Even in small doses, raisin consumption can cause kidney failure in four-legged family members, so treat these treats as if they were candy — by keeping them well away from pets.

now you see it… now you don’t

The terrifying truth is, for some four-legged friends, just about anything can become a foreign body ingestion. (Take a look at Dusty’s alarming example below!) If the family is busy bobbing for apples and entertaining ethereal guests, consider putting pets in a separate room with a bed, food, water and toys, where edible enemies to their health can be minimized.

terrifying tail: fright night

On Halloween in 2010, Dusty gave his pet parents a real scare when he swallowed a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser® cleaning sponge — no chewing, just swallowed it whole! After six hours in the emergency clinic and three sets of X-rays, the eraser was just sitting in the bottom of his stomach. Several of the vets at the clinic and poison control concurred that the only option was to do emergency surgery to remove the sponge. Dusty spent three days in intensive care before his vet cleared him to go home. Dusty’s Fright Night trick had his pet parents sick with fear, but he made a full recover — and the following Halloween was thankfully trick-free and full of treats!