When the calendar page flips to October, count on a chill in the air, leaves changing from red to amber, and hot soups and football games. The tenth month of the year also signals the end of the harvest season, the beginning of the holiday festivities, and, on October 31, the magical night of Halloween. That’s when children dress up as ghosts and princesses, go door to door asking for candy, and call out, “Trick or treat!” The kids are happy, but your dog? Not so much.
When he sees you give the little ones a sweet treat that they pop into their mouths or drop into their pumpkins, your dog will naturally want in on the goodies. He loves food, and when he looks at you with those big brown puppy-dog eyes, you will think he’s hungry. If this tempts you to unwrap a piece of candy and give it to him, resist the urge! Chances are, he won’t be hungry, especially if you feed him dinner before the superheroes and cheerleaders come knocking. He will just want to eat what you and the kids are eating—but don’t give in!
Candy Is Not Dandy For Dogs
Candy of all forms is unhealthy for dogs. Chocolate is famously dangerous, whether it’s dark, milk, or white. Although the most dangerous chocolates are dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate, all types contain caffeine and theobromine, which are poisonous to dogs. And if the treat includes macadamia nuts, it is a double no-no for canines, as these nuts can cause uncomfortable symptoms.
Also forget giving your dog candy made with xylitol. This noncaloric sweetener, used in sugar-free gum, candy, and baked goods, is off-limits. While xylitol doesn’t affect human blood sugar levels, it’s dangerous for dogs because it causes more insulin to circulate through the canine body, which lowers blood sugar and can lead to liver failure.
Is candy made with real sugar any healthier? No. Eating too much sugar may lead to obesity, dental issues, and the onset of diabetes.
Safe Halloween Treats
If you want to give your dog some healthy snacks on All Hallows’ Eve, it helps to prepare them the day before or in the morning. Once your dog gets a whiff of his own special snacks, he’ll want to gobble all of them, but limit how much you give him. More than the regular amount of food he gets during mealtime can give him a tummy ache!
Here are some good replacements for candy that you can feel good about giving to your dog:
Small sliced pieces of fruit. Good choices are apple, blueberries, orange, banana, and pear, all in small portions. Dogs also like melon, peach, apricot, and plum. Make sure that all stems, leaves, seeds, and pits are removed, as these can cause intestinal obstruction; many pits also contain poisonous cyanide. Skip grapes and raisins altogether. Even a small amount of these can make a dog ill and possibly cause kidney failure.
Grated or finely chopped pieces of some fresh vegetables. These include zucchini, cucumber, and celery. Your dog will also savor small pieces of cooked or boiled carrots, green beans, pumpkin, and potatoes.
Bite-sized pieces of cooked or boiled chicken, turkey, or lean meat. Be sure to remove all visible fat and poultry skin. Don’t feed your dog bacon, fat trimmings, or cooked bones. Fatty foods and fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis, and cooked bones can splinter and cause an obstruction in your dog’s digestive system.
Edible chews. For a longer lasting treat, you can satisfy your dog’s desire for something yummy to eat on Halloween by giving him an edible chew, such as the delicious Nylabone Wild Healthy Edibles Chews, which come in the wild flavors of exotic protein sources that your dog’s ancestors lived on, such as venison and salmon. And if your dog is a powerful chewer, you can follow up with the Nylabone Dental Dinosaur Chew Toy, which will help clean his teeth after his chomp fest.
If you think your dog has eaten something toxic (or aren’t sure), contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435). The ASPCA may charge a consultation fee.