Halloween can be a fun time for your family, but the spooky-ness of the holiday can be a scary time for your pup! Like small children, dogs do not understand the symbolism and can become confused by costumes that appear threatening or distort human features. At first, your dogs might get excited when the doorbell rings, but once they see the strange and scary creatures behind that door, they might run for cover! So, here are some helpful reminders to keep your dog and other pets safe and stress-free this Halloween:
1. Keep the paws out of the candy bowl! Chocolate, in all forms, can be dangerous and even lethal for pets. Symptoms of poisoning from chocolate may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. In addition to chocolate, candy containing even small amounts of the sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous and cause liver failure. So, keep candy bowls and bags out of reach, and be sure to teach your kiddos the drill, too. But, your pups shouldn't miss out on ALL the fun…just give them some healthy “candy” made just for them, like some homemade “Candy Corn” Popsicles and Pumpkin Snackaroons (see recipes below).
2. Create a safe place for your pets indoors. Find a safe room away from the front door to reduce the stress and prevent your pets from darting outside at night and getting lost. Also, beware of “pranksters” who have been known to steal, injure, or even kill pets on Halloween. It’s best to keep your pets indoors and away from strangers.
3. Keep the Jack-O-Lanterns, decorative corn, gourds, and other vegetables safely away from your pets. These decorative items can become moldy with mycotoxins (even if they don’t appear moldy), and these toxins can cause neurologic problems in pets. If you add candles to your carved pumpkins, watch them carefully and keep them out of reach of your pets to prevent nasty burns and fires.
4. Acclimate your pets to their costumes (if you dress them up) and to yours. Although those social media pics of pups in adorable costumes always get a good laugh (a dachshund dressed as a hotdog comes to mind!), we humans might be the only ones laughing. Not all dogs are acclimated to costumes and some may become agitated and nervous when forced to wear one. Plus, some costumes can restrict eyesight and breathing or cause hazards that can lead to injury. Unless you KNOW that your pup loves getting dressed up, reserve the costumes for yourself. And, when you are in costume, remember that you will look very different to your dog, so try introducing the costume to your dog gradually, perhaps by putting on parts of it at a time while continuing to talk to your dog. At all costs, avoid flying around the corner doing the Monster Mash and scaring the bejeebers out of your poor pup!
5. Make sure your pet has a proper ID. If your pet accompanies your family on a trick-or-treating excursion, or if they are at risk of escaping and getting lost, an ID will be crucial to identifying and returning your pet to you. Even if your pet is microchipped, a good ID with a current phone number and address will save a lot of time and trouble.
Visit the following sites for more information on Halloween pet safety, and don't forget to check out the pup-friendly treats below!
Pup-friendly Halloween Treats
“Candy Corn” Popsicles
This recipe is quick and easy. Just layer mashed banana, plain canned pumpkin (or a mix of pumpkin and peanut butter), and plain non-fat yogurt in a triangle-shaped mold and freeze until firm. If your bananas are not super yellow, you can try mixing in a bit of the pumpkin to brighten the color a bit, as we did here. If you want to make a true popsicle with a stick, try using a stick-shaped dog treat that can be chewed instead of a wooden stick that could be splintered and accidentally swallowed.
These ingredients are safe for most dogs, but keep in mind that bananas have a lot of sugar, and yogurt can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs with lactose intolerance. Some yogurts can contain the artificial sweetener, xylitol, which can be harmful to your pup. Be sure to use only plain, unsweetened pumpkin and yogurt.
By Sue Carroll, Biscuitologist at Bones Du Jour in Fort Collins, Colorado (one of our awesome suppliers!).
Photo courtesy of Sue Carroll.
These biscuits resemble coconut macaroons, but they contain no raw coconut, which can sometimes cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs.
½ can drained chickpeas (no added salt)
1 ½ cup rolled oats, divided
1 small apple, cored, deseeded, and cut into chunks
½ cup plain canned pumpkin (no added sugar or other additives)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor or blender, process ¾ rolled oats into flour. Add the apple, chickpeas, and pumpkin, and process until ground and incorporated. Stir in the remaining rolled oats or add them to the mixture in the food processor and pulse until incorporated. The dough will be thick and a little sticky.
Drop the dough by spoonful onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Use a heavy drinking glass with the bottom covered in plastic wrap to flatten all biscuits to the same thickness so they will bake evenly. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the edges turn a little brown. Turn off the oven and let them sit in the oven until the treats are baked through and dry. Make sure they are dry all the way to the middle or they will mold. Place the treats in an airtight container and refrigerate (or freeze) them—they will not keep on the counter.
Bon Appetit, Puppies!