How to Treat Your Dog on Halloween

Halloween: a time of costumes, kids and lots of candy. Opportunities abound for spooky sweets to find their way out of kids’ hands and bags and over to family pets. So, are any types of candy actually OK for your dog or cat? Any they need to avoid? We’ve all heard the dangers of chocolate, but what about the other types of treats out there?

Veterinarian Cathy Alinovi of Hoofstock Veterinary Services in Indiana and pet food cookbook author, and Jena Questen, a holistic veterinarian, weigh in to keep your pets safe this Halloween.

“What fun, right? Sharing candy with our pets! But, let’s be safe,” Alinovi says.

Treating Your Dog on Halloween

Cautionary Confections

The first thing to remember is the size of your dog. A large breed will be able to get away with a lot more than a smaller dog simply because their stomachs are larger.

“Then, is it really chocolate in there?” Alinovi says to ask. “If Fido accidentally gets one Hershey’s kiss, life will go on. But, no matter the size of dog, the whole bag is not going to go over well.”

Then, never ever let your pups get ahold of sugar-free candies of any kind – “that’s asking for fatal liver failure,” she warns.

Questen reminds that, as often as in life, the key is anything in moderation. The large amount of sugar in most candies is enough to cause stomach aches, vomiting and/or diarrhea in any dog.  However, foods to specifically avoid at all costs are grapes and raisins, which have also been linked to kidney failure.

Safe Sweets

Enough of the no-nos. What about the OK foods?

Questen says a bite of a caramel apple won’t hurt, and Alinovi mentions a gum drop or Twizzler. Some hard candies such as Jolly Ranchers and peppermints would even be allright, but are advised against due to the potential choking hazard on the candy itself, not to mention the wrapper.

What about felines? Cats are so finicky to begin with, most probably wouldn’t even touch candy, but some might enjoy licking the salt or coating off! Again, just be sure to supervise carefully, and everything in moderation.

“In summary, in small doses and with a little common sense, you can probably share almost any Halloween treats with your dog,” Questen says.

Have Some Fun!

While it is easy to focus on your own pooches, remember that some other doggies may be stopping by your door this Oct. 31. So for any canine companions trick-or-treating at your door, have some fun things planned for them too! It can be as simple as using a zombie mask as a makeshift water dish or packaging up some dog treats to hand out to their human friends.

Making your own dog treats at home is easier than you might think, and often cheaper and healthier than what you’d buy in the store anyway. In preparation of this holiday, I practiced one simple recipe to share. Use cookie cutters or some creative imagination to make them really special, like forming them into neat shapes like a ghost or pumpkin, or using safe candies or icing as eyes!

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Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Pooch Treats

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 1/2 cup fresh or canned pumpkin 1/2 cup peanut butter 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup water as needed

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Whisk together flour, cinnamon and baking powder, then adding pumpkin and peanut butter in a bowl.
  • Add water as needed, but the dough should be stiff and dry.
  • Roll to 1/2 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, or until hard.

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Happy Halloween!

What fun treats or other special activities do you have planned for your pets this season?