One bite—please?

You know that look when your pet does not get what they want, but with Halloween candy, ignoring their pleading requests is a matter of health and safety. Candy and baked goods contain many ingredients that are harmful—or deadly—for pets. Rather than endure their pitiful gaze each time you unwrap a mini candy bar, give them their own special pet-safe treats with this guide from Otay Pet Vets.

Say “Boo” to these dangerous Halloween ingredients for pets

Halloween pet hazards seem to lurk around every corner, including those innocent-looking candies and baked treats that are everywhere in October. Whether you’re in the kitchen, or on the front porch waiting for nightfall, be on the lookout for these ingredients that are scary and dangerous for pets:

  • Chocolate — Dark, bitter, and baking chocolate
  • Raisins and grapes — The former may be given as treats, while peeled grapes are used as fake eyeballs.
  • Macadamia nuts — May be hidden in some chocolates and nut-based fillings
  • Xylitol — A natural sweetener found in some sugar-free gum, candy, cough drops, peanut butter, and snack products
  • Yeast dough — Can expand in the gastrointestinal tract, and cause rupture
  • Alcohol — Pets can sip from unattended glasses
  • Candy wrappers — Colorful foil, cellophane, and ribbon can cause choking or intestinal blockage.

Keeping your pet safe from toxic treats

Halloween risk management includes knowing where your pet is at all times, and controlling access to any dangerous ingredients by:

  • Storing all candy out of reach in closed containersno bowls or buckets
  • Keeping pets out of the kitchen 
  • Confining pets during parties or trick-or-treating, to prevent uninformed guests from feeding your pet candy
  • Instructing children not to take candy to their rooms 
  • Displaying all baked goods and party trays in the table’s center, or away from the counter’s edge, to deter food-stealing

If you know or suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, do not wait to see if they become sick. Immediately call Otay Pet Vets, or the ASPCA Pet Poison Control for guidance.

How to use pet-safe treats this Halloween

While your pet will love being handed a treat, their enjoyment is over as soon as they swallow. Rather than a one-time gift, use treats strategically, to improve your pet’s behavior, provide healthy distraction during confinement, and reduce stress and anxiety—something desperately needed on a night dedicated to the walking dead! 

Here are three beneficial ways to use treats this Halloween:

  • Treats to change their mind — Pets may be frightened by Halloween decorations. Help them see there’s nothing to fear, by rewarding them for looking at what scares them:
    • Begin at a distance where your pet feels comfortable, and when your pet glances at the object, calmly say, “Yes,” and immediately give them a treat.
    • Repeat this pattern until your pet is voluntarily looking at the object, and looking back at you. Gradually move closer. 
    • If your pet startles, vocalizes, or seems uncomfortable, step back. 
    • If your pet chooses to investigate the object at any point, go with them, and reward and praise generously.
    • Keep sessions short, successful, and fun.
  • Treats for playing games — Exercise your pet in the early afternoon on Halloween, so they’ll be happy to be crated or confined when the excitement begins. Use small treats to fill puzzle toys, or hide inside boxes or crumpled paper, or toss in the grass, for a fun and tiring foraging activity. 
  • Treats for distraction — Long-lasting treats, such as filled Kongs, Toppls, or LickiMats, are a positive, soothing activity, instead of worrying about scary noises or trick-or-treaters outside. For more fun, freeze and serve.

Pet-safe Halloween treats

Show your pet some homemade love with our favorite, frightfully good pet treat recipes:

  • Pumpkin pupsicle — Mix three tablespoons of pumpkin puree with one large container of xylitol-free plain yogurt. Fill silicone popsicle molds or paper cups with the mixture, and freeze. Remove paper before serving.
  • Edible Kong — Core an apple, remove all the seeds, and fill the hollow center with xylitol-free peanut butter. Serve fresh or frozen.  
  • Tuna treats for dogs and cats — Pets love these soft, smelly treats. This easy recipe can also be made with canned chicken or salmon.
  • Frightening feline fish feast — This one may haunt you! Pulverize canned or fresh sardines, and spread a few tablespoons on a LickiMat. If that’s too gruesome, substitute canned tuna, wet food, or cat soup treats. 
  • Pumpkin-peanut butter Kong — Combine xylitol-free plain yogurt and one tablespoon of pumpkin puree. Fill the Kong with the mixture, and seal with xylitol-free peanut butter. Garnish with a pumpkin biscuit.

Always supervise your pet with new toys or treats, and monitor them for digestive upset. Pumpkin puree is high in fiber, so adjust the ratio to suit your dog. And remembertreats are fine in moderation, but should not make up more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily calorie intake, so adjust their meals after giving them large treats or food toys. 

For additional questions about keeping your pet safe this Halloween, contact Otay Pet Vets.