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Treating Pets on Halloween – Tips From an Expert

Halloween is one of my family’s favorite holidays. Every year we look forward to a ton of Halloween themed fun and excitement in the Orlando area. There is a LOT to do around here every year but somehow we usually find a way to enjoy just about everything. Until I read this article written by pet nutritionist Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, I was never really sure what to do for the dogs and cats during Halloween. We consider them part of the family and like to include them in everything but none of us want to give our pets anything that will hurt them. After reading this, visiting Petcurian.com and learning about what foods are right for our pets, then sharing the info with my husband and kids, we now know just what to do to keep our pets safe!

Cute puppy wearing a Halloween witch hat with pumpkins.

Halloween is upon us – a festive and fun time for families everywhere, including pets. Pet costumes have stepped up their game, so your fur kids can be included in the revelry.  But what about the treating aspect of Halloween – can your pets join in on this fun as well?

Petcurean’s PhD pet nutritionist Dr. Jennifer Adolphe offers these tips to treating pets around Halloween:

Steer clear of candy: Candy is a concentrated source of sugar and calories so it is not recommended for dogs. Since candy does not provide any nutritional value for dogs, and some candies contain highly toxic substances, it is best for dogs to steer clear of all candy. If you really want to provide your pet with a special treat on Halloween, try healthy fruits and veggies, such as pieces of apple or carrots, instead of sugary and potentially harmful candy.

Some ingredients are worse than others:

  • Chocolate is well known to be toxic to dogs, so it goes without saying to avoid chocolate treats. The toxic component in chocolate is called theobromine. The caffeine in chocolate is also not good for dogs.
  • Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a sweetener in many sugar-free candies and gum. It is highly toxic to dogs and ingestion can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure and even death. Just a few pieces of xylitol-containing candy can have detrimental effects in dogs, so it is best to keep all sugar-free products far out of reach of your dog, or avoid purchasing products with xylitol altogether.
  • Raisins are another treat commonly given out at Halloween that can be toxic for dogs. Raisins (and grapes) can cause kidney failure in dogs and just a few can make a dog seriously ill, and symptoms of raisin toxicity usually appear within a couple of hours after ingestion.

Signs to watch for:  Changes in behavior could be an indication that your dog has gotten into something not good for him. Vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, lethargy, increased thirst, tremors and seizures are signs that your pet may have eaten something he shouldn’t have. If in doubt, call your veterinarian, local animal emergency clinic or animal poison control hotline right away. Try to determine how much of the offending food your dog has consumed as this could be useful information for the vet. Depending on how much and what type of toxic food your dog ate, the vet may recommend simply monitoring him and calling back if the symptoms worsen, or they may determine that he needs medical care right away.

If you want to treat your pets on Halloween, stick to foods that are dog friendly and familiar. Halloween should be fun for the whole family, just be sure to watch what your pets eat like you would your kids to keep everyone safe and happy.




  1. Mary Ambrosino says

    Some great tips. Thank you.