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Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin? Celebrating Halloween With A Dog

Knowing what is safe for your dog to eat can be a minefield. Then add in all that comes with Halloween and it can quickly become an overwhelming experience for both you and your dog.

We’ve put together everything you need to enjoy this season with your pup. From things to be aware of, top tips and a tasty treat, we’ve got your back.

Can My Dog Eat Pumpkin?

Dog sniffing a pumpkin

Yes, but…

Pumpkins are not poisonous for dogs, so do not fear if they start eating a small pumpkin or gourd that looks like a toy. However, there are some key things you need to know about pumpkin in order to keep your dog safe.

  1. The stems and leaves of pumpkins are covered in prickly hairs that can be harmful if eaten.
  2. Dogs may struggle to digest raw pumpkin, so canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin pulp is a kinder option for their bellies.
  3. Be careful if there is a candle burning inside a pumpkin because it could end in a nasty burn if your dog tries to take a bite.
  4. Everything in moderation. There are health benefits your dog can enjoy from eating pumpkin, but too much can cause more harm than good.

Pumpkin seeds are safe for your dog to eat, but only in small amounts. If your dog snaffles some pumpkin seeds from the floor it’s ok, but they don’t digest pumpkin seeds well and too many can cause stomach problems.

Health Benefits Of Pumpkin For Your Dog

Dog sat in a field with 3 pumpkins

Pumpkin pulp is a nutrient-rich treat for your dog, when eaten in moderation. Here are some of the health benefits it contains:

  • Naturally high in antioxidants that support eye and skin health, and a shiny coat
  • Full of Vitamins A, C and E, as well as potassium, all necessary for a strong immune system
  • Can act as a prebiotic, supporting a dog’s gut health and therefore it’s immune system
  • Contains a blend of soluble and insoluble fibre meaning pumpkin can be a good remedy for both constipation and diarrhoea (but too much can worsen these problems, so remember it is all about moderation)

Why Your Dog Might Struggle With Halloween

It's important to remember that strange little monsters knocking at the door, unusual noises and lots of tempting treats can all get a bit much for dogs. Whilst many dogs might usually enjoy meeting visitors, even the most confident, well-socialised dogs can find people in costumes unnerving.

Our dogs don't understand what Halloween is all about, so be aware of the situations that can confuse and make your dog feel uneasy.

Trick Or Treating

trick or treat sign in front of pumpkins

Your dog won't understand why your house is suddenly the most popular house on the patch, and could be concerned about their territory being under siege! The first instinct for your dog when they feel that their space is being invaded is to protect their pack; this can cause them to bark or feel anxious.

Why Is Everyone Wearing A Costume?

two children in halloween costumes with trick or treat buckets

Although us humans enjoy Halloween costumes, they can confuse our dogs. Is it a human? Is it an animal? Is it a monster? Are they dangerous? If your dog is confused by what’s moved into their territory then they're likely to assume the worst (that they are indeed dangerous monsters) and do their best to scare them off.

You might think that popping on a fake nose and a wig is all fun and games, but your dog might not agree. If it smells like you, but doesn't look like you then your dog could be confused and not know if they can trust you. This can lead to more stress for your pup, so think twice before picking up that hooked nose.

Territory Under Attack!

If your dog is prone to being sensitive about their space, trick-or-treaters may not go down well. Knocks and surprises, people having fun, going to parties, and being more noisy than normal could certainly be a cause for upset.

For extra-territorial dogs you may want to consider whether a friend (who is unlikely to have Halloween visitors) would be happy to look after your dog for the evening. This offers them a safe space and avoids any stress.

Spotting Signs Of Anxiety In Your Dog At Halloween

It's important to keep an eye on your pup for tell-tale signs of anxiety during Halloween, so that you can adapt your behaviour as needed. Below are the main symptoms you may notice if your dog is feeling anxious:

  • Hiding
  • Shaking
  • Refusing food
  • Seeking comfort from you
  • Yawning and pacing
  • Licking their lips often
  • Panting

Top Tips For A Dog-Safe Halloween

Do’s And Don’ts At Halloween

  • Don't force your dog to wear a Halloween costume - it's already stressful enough for them and wearing something they're not used to may amplify any anxieties they have.
  • Don't take your dog trick or treating. Even calm, confident, well-socialised dogs can behave unpredictably - and that's not a risk worth taking around children.
  • Keep all Halloween decorations (and pumpkins) well out the way of your dog to avoid any unnecessary injuries.
  • Make sure to walk your dog during the day rather than in the evening when you may be unable to avoid excited children on their travels.
  • Make sure your dog is shut safely inside a room if you need to open any external doors to avoid them running off scared.
  • Watch out for treats! You'll already be aware that many human treats (like chocolate) pose a serious threat to your dog - so make sure to keep them well out of reach of your pup.

Keep Things Normal

  • Although including your four-legged friend in your Halloween plans may seem a good idea, it's likely that they'd prefer to be at home having a snooze - so don't plan for them to be your cute canine sidekick for the night.
  • Try to act and behave normally, as your dog will pick up on any anxious behaviour. Remain calm, happy and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your dog. Reward calm behaviour with dog treats or playing with toys of interest.
  • Turn on the radio, TV or play music to help drown out any unusual noises.

Reduce Stress For Your Dog

  • Plan ahead and make sure your dog is fed before any expected disturbances, as they may become too nervous to eat. Providing a natural diet free from anything artificial can help reduce any hyperactive behaviour.
  • Try making a den with old blankets for your dog to hide away in. You can encourage its use by hiding treats and toys there, and once they're inside don't try to coax them out.
  • Wherever your dog settles (even if it is under furniture or a pile of old washing), leave them be as it's important for them to feel comfortable.

Anti-Anxiety Options

  • Pet Remedy is a natural way to help calm your dog. It works with the pet’s own natural calming mechanisms by mimicking GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid), a natural calming agent present in all mammals, reptiles, and birds.
  • You can consider using a dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) like Adaptil that releases a synthetic pheromone that simulates the pheromone produced by the mother after she has given birth. This pheromone reassures and calms newborn puppies. Scientists have now discovered that it also helps calm older dogs for a wide range of anxiety-related behaviour.
  • Try our calming treats for a yummy and nutritional option to help your dog relax.
  • If your dog is particularly prone to becoming very distressed, have a chat with your vet or dog behaviourist for expert advice.

Bake Your Own Pumpkin-Packed Halloween Dog Treats

field of pumpkins arranged near hay bales

Share the love with your four-legged friend at Halloween, with our bake-at-home Halloween treats recipe. Make sure these treats are only shared when baked; unbaked dough or mixture should not be fed to dogs.

The recipe makes 20 medium-sized bones and takes 15 mins to cook in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 200g tinned pumpkin puree (make sure this is plain, tinned pumpkin puree and not dessert pumpkin as this often contains added sugar, fat & seasonings)
  • 225g wholemeal flour
  • 7g dry yeast
  • 1 ½ tsp olive oil
  • 50g grated parmesan

Instructions

  • In a large bowl combine the flour, dry yeast and grated parmesan
  • Add the pumpkin pure and olive oil and mix it all together until the dough is firm
  • Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for about 30 minutes
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 200°C
  • Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a stick about 22cm long. Loosely tie a knot in each end of the sticks.
  • Place on parchment paper and bake the bones for 15 minutes or until golden
  • Allow the bones to completely cool on a wire rack

Nutritional Information

Nutritional Facts: 1035 Calories. 64% Carbohydrates, 19% Fat, 17% Protein (for all the treats). Ideal for: healthy, active dogs. Treats are to be fed as part of a balanced diet.

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