Although the mercury on the thermometer might not be reflecting it yet, autumn is on its way. For many Fort Wayne residents, that means it’s time to get out the Halloween decorations and prepare for another season of spooky fun.

Halloween can be exciting for people of all ages, from little tots on their very first trick-or-treat rounds to adults adorned in costumes heading out to parties. But there is one group that might not enjoy the holiday so much — dogs.

Why Halloween can be deadly for dogs

Unlike children who typically love to dress up in costumes, few dogs enjoy the practice. In fact, dogs can be at great risk when wearing costumes, as these funny get-ups can severely restrict their movement and vision. Many canine costumes are highly flammable as well, putting your pet in harm’s way around lighted jack-o’-lanterns and flickering candles.

There are other hazards, too. Chocolate (especially dark chocolate) can be lethal for dogs. Especially for the smaller breeds, it doesn’t take much chocolate for them to succumb to their symptoms after getting into the candy bowl. Make sure to keep all chocolatey goodies out of reach of man’s best friend.

Halloween also brings people out in droves to neighborhoods where their children trick-or-treat. Even slowly moving vehicles can hit and injure or kill your family pets, so make sure to secure your dog inside your home or have them properly leashed when they go out.

Other hazards that can affect your pet

Dogs don’t understand the concept of random small strangers repeatedly ringing your doorbell and holding out sacks to be filled with candy. Many dogs view the young visitors as interlopers who are a threat to the family. When they act accordingly and lunge and bite someone, that’s a real problem and could cause you to lose your dog or have it be put down.

It is far better to sequester your pet in their crate or behind a securely shut door in another room of your house if you will be participating in trick-or-treat activities this Halloween, This not only protects your dog but the wee ones who come knocking.

If your child gets bit by a dog this Halloween

Of course, not all pet owners are this proactive about keeping pets and others safe. Inevitably, some dogs will manage to break free of constraints and may do some damage before they are caught and restrained.

If your child suffers a dog bite injury this Halloween, you will need to handle any damage claims that may arise from this unfortunate incident.