Tricks Not Treats: Celebrate Halloween Safely with Your Pets

Halloween is a night of sugary sweets and harmless fun for both kids and adults. But for pets, Halloween is a much different story: not only are the costumed visitors and ringing door bells potential triggers for your pet, but the treats passed out to children could be a health hazard for your beloved animals.

It’s one of the most common questions asked by pet owners around the Halloween season: Can dogs eat candy? But before you split your stash of treats with your dog, find out what kind of dangers might be hiding inside those tempting wrappers. Here are answers to some of your most common Halloween questions, along with tips to safely celebrate Halloween around your pets.

Is Candy Bad for Dogs?

Unfortunately, many popular types of Halloween candy pose a health risk for your dog—and, in some cases, Halloween candy that looks harmless could send your dog to the emergency room.

The most obvious health risk with candy is chocolate, which is found in a wide range of candy bars and confections popular at Halloween. A single ounce of baker’s chocolate can make a 50-pound dog sick and in need of medical care, so even a small amount can be a big threat to your dog.

Along with chocolate, raisins—which are sometimes passed out in little boxes at Halloween, or are featured in candies such as Raisinets—can be extremely toxic to dogs. Even a single raising can cause a severe reaction, making raisins a definite no-no for any dog, at any time of year.

What Candy Can Dogs Eat?

It’s true that not all types of candy are toxic to dogs. Despite their high sugar content, a number of candies—ranging from candy corn to Skittles—are free of toxins that are highly dangerous for your dog. If your dog ingests one of two pieces of these candies, there’s likely no cause for concern.

Keep in mind, though, that even in large quantities, these candies could make your dog sick and prompt a visit to the vet or emergency pet clinic. And even if the candies themselves aren’t a health hazard, many candies pose a choking risk for your dog. All in all, the smart move is to keep your dog from eating candy at all times.

Can Dogs Eat Sweets of Any Kind?

While veterinary experts recommend staying away from candy, there are still ways you can indulge your dogs’ sweet tooth without putting them in harm’s way at Halloween. Treats made from sweet potatoes, bananas, and/or peanut butter are great ways to satisfy your dogs’ desire for sweets with foods that are perfectly safe for your dog.

While these flavors and ingredients are widely available in store-bought dog treats, you could also try your hand at baking your own dog treats at home. This lets you control the ingredients in those treats while also doing something extra-special for your dog this Halloween.

What if My Dog Ate a Candy Wrapper?

If your dog somehow gets access to your Halloween stash, it’s possible that they will end up eating candy wrappers along with the candy. Unfortunately, candy wrappers are a serious health threat in their own right: whether made from foil or cellophane, these wrappers can get caught in a dog’s bowels and create a blockage that could be life-threatening if left untreated.

If you know your dog has ingested a candy wrapper, call your local vet office and follow their instructions. Depending on the amount of wrapper consumed, they may ask you to monitor your dog’s health to see if signs of blockage develop.

Other Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Candy is an important aspect of Halloween pet safety, but it’s not the only potential hazard to account for with your pets. Here are some other tips to ensure pet safety this Halloween:

  • Keep candle-lit pumpkins away from your dog. Your dog could accidentally tip these decorations over, causing hot wax and an open flame to spill and create a potential burn hazard.
  • Accessorize your dog with reflective gear if heading outside. Many trick-or-treaters will be active when it’s dark out, and the commotion of kids going up and down the block could make it tougher to spot a loose dog running into traffic. Reflective gear will make your dog more visible, which in turn will keep them safe.
  • Don’t force your dog into costumes when they’re clearly uncomfortable. While pet costumes are fun, they also bring risks of overheating, restricted movement, and increased anxiety and stress for your dog. If their behavior is strange or concerning when dressed in a costume, you may want to err on the side of caution and take them out.

With a little awareness and attention paid to your dog, you can fully enjoy Halloween while making sure your dog isn’t exposed to any health hazards. Stay disciplined and keep the treats away from your dog—or, if you can’t help yourself, pick up some dog-specific treats that indulge your pet’s gluttony without putting them at risk.

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