Everyone loves a sweet Halloween surprise—including your pet! Unfortunately, many traditional treats contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs and cats. Every year, fictitious frights become real-life horror stories, as pet owners find themselves at Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center, or the nearest veterinary emergency hospital, waiting to find out if their dangerously curious pet will be OK. Talk about all tricks and no treats!
Protect your pet from harm this Halloween by giving them their own safe, healthy treats. Hopefully, they’ll be so busy with their own goody bag they will stay away from yours!
Keep your pet’s paws off these toxic foods
We all know temptation can be hard to resist when we’re surrounded with sweet stuff, and pets can feel that way about candy during Halloween. While the sweet aroma inspires most pets to take a bite—or two, or more—others are attracted to the shiny wrappers, which they may mistake for toys. Playful pets may ingest wrapping, ribbon, or string that can form intestinal blockages.
While candy and chocolate top our list, you should also watch out for other Halloween hazards. Here’s the full list of what NOT to feed your pet:
- Chocolate — Especially dark, bitter, and baker’s chocolate, which are high in dangerous chemicals known as methylxanthines
- Candy — All candy types can cause hyperactivity, high blood glucose, and pancreatitis. If the candy contains any of the following ingredients, the risk increases:
- Xylitol — A sugar substitute found in candy, gum, mints, and some snack foods
- Raisins — Also watch for currants and raisin paste
- Grapes — Found on party trays, or peeled and used for fake-eyeball gags
- Macadamia nuts — May be chocolate-coated, found in baked goods, or in a mixed-nut filling
If your pet has ingested candy or any other toxic ingredient, contact Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center. For after-hours emergencies, we recommend The Animal Emergency Clinic of Conroe.
Criteria for pet-safe treats
A food not listed on the toxic food list is not necessarily safe for your pet. Rich foods, or those high in sugar, salt, and fat, can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and pancreatitis, which is a dangerous condition requiring hospitalization.
Safe pet treats should always meet the following criteria:
- Five or fewer ingredients
- Low in fat, salt, and sugar
- Free from artificial colors
- Easy to chew (i.e., nothing hard or inflexible)
- Made in the United States
Give treats in moderation, and ensure they make up no more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily calorie intake. If your pet will be consuming a large treat (i.e., a stuffed Kong), adjust their meals accordingly, to prevent overfeeding.
How treats can reduce pet stress on Halloween
Halloween stress for pets is no joke—people in costume, strange sounds, scary decorations, and constant visitors can put the most well-adjusted pets on edge. Consuming food is a naturally calming pet behavior that can be used to reward, distract, create positive associations, and reduce stress.
On Halloween, exercise your pet during the afternoon, and then confine them to a quiet room or cozy crate during the evening festivities. Fill food puzzles with tasty pet-safe treats to preoccupy your pet, or stuff a hollow toy, such as a Kong, Toppl, and Licki-Mat, with our filling recipes for longer-lasting enjoyment.
Pet-safe Halloween recipes
There are no tricks here—only safe, tasty treat combinations, to keep your pet calm and content during the scariest night of the year. After your pet is finished with these satisfying games, they’ll be ready for a long, peaceful nap. Always supervise your pet with any new toy to ensure proper play, and prevent chewing or accidental ingestion.
- Treats for play — These bite-size treats are great for games and general rewards.
- Spooky sardine treats for dogs and cats — Remove any obvious bones, and pulverize sardines in a food processor. Substitute rinsed canned ham, chicken, or tuna in water if sardines make you squeamish.
- Pumpkin-peanut butter yogurt drops — Protect these no-bake treats from the October sun, and use xylitol-free peanut butter. The optional carob powder adds a dog-safe “chocolate” flavor.
- Treats for stuffing — Soft liquid-based recipes are great for filling hollow toys. If your dog doesn’t like pumpkin, try mashed banana instead.
- Peanut butter-pumpkin Kong — Combine one-half cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt with one spoonful of xylitol-free peanut butter, and one tablespoon of pumpkin puree. Adjust the ingredients for small toys. Fill the Kong base with a few dry treats, and then pour in the mixture. Freeze, or serve immediately.
- Pumpkin cup — Use this recipe from the ASPCA to fill toys or silicone ice-cube molds for a healthy, frozen treat
- Lap it up, kitty — Cats enjoy soft foods spread on Licki-Mats, a textured silicone mat that encourages slow eating and improves digestion. Try canned cat food, cat soup or meal toppers, tuna in water, or crumbled freeze-dried chicken.
Your pet may not be able to partake in the classic Halloween treats like candy corn, chocolate pumpkins, and sour gummies, but once they’ve got their paws on their own special treat, we don’t think they’ll mind. However, don’t expect them to share!