Halloween will be here soon, and the holiday will bring out numerous yummy offerings, from trick or treat candy, to Halloween party food. Before you let your pet partake in the ghoulish goodies, our team at Animal Medical Hospital of Naples wants to provide Halloween do’s and don’ts, to ensure you safely treat your pet.

DO use vegetables to treat your pet

Most vegetables offer a healthy, low calorie option for pet treats, but a few should be avoided.

  • Safe veggies — Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, beets, and zucchini all are great treat options for your pet.
  • Unsafe veggies — Never feed your pet the following:
    • Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks — These vegetables contain thiosulphates and disulfides, which are toxic to dogs and cats. All plant parts, whether raw or cooked, as well as the granulated powders, are poisonous to pets. The toxin causes pets’ red blood cells to burst, resulting in anemia. Signs include weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, pale gums, and red-colored urine.
    • Wild mushrooms — Certain wild mushrooms contain toxins that can damage multiple organs, including your pet’s kidneys, liver, and brain. 
    • Rhubarb — This vegetable, commonly used to make pies, jellies, and sauces, contains oxalates that can cause nervous system, kidney, and digestive tract abnormalities.

DON’T use chocolate to treat your pet

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are toxic to pets. These substances are readily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, and then metabolized in the liver. By competitively inhibiting certain cellular receptors, they cause central nervous system stimulation, elevated heart rate, increased skeletal and cardiac muscle contraction, and increased circulating epinephrine levels. Signs typically occur 6 to 12 hours after ingestion, and include increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal distention, and restlessness. In severe cases, signs may progress to hyperactivity, incoordination, rigidity, and seizures.

DO use fruit to treat your pet

If your pet has a sweet tooth, fruit is a wonderful treat option. Most fruits are safe, but a few should be avoided.

  • Safe fruits — Apples, apricots, bananas, blueberries, mangos, pears, pineapples, raspberries, and strawberries are great fruit choices for your pet.
  • Unsafe fruits — Fruits to avoid include:
    • Grapes and raisins — While the mechanism is unknown, grapes and raisins cause kidney failure in pets. Signs include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite.
    • Lemons and limes — Lemon and lime skin contains psoralen, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea. In large amounts, pets can experience severe signs, including muscle tremors, difficulty walking, and liver failure.
    • Peaches and plums — A peach or plum pit can cause an intestinal obstruction. Also, the pit contains cyanide, which is poisonous to pets, if the pit is broken open and ingested.
    • Avocado — An avocado pit also can cause intestinal obstruction, and all avocado parts contain persin, which causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Avocado flesh in small amounts is safe for your pet.

DON’T use nuts to treat your pet

Most unsalted nuts are not toxic to pets, but they are high in fat, and can cause gastrointestinal upset, and possibly pancreatitis, if not given in moderation. Macadamia nuts, however, are toxic to pets, and can cause lethargy, vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors, and hyperthermia. 

DO use popcorn to treat your pet

Plain, air-popped popcorn is a great treat option for pets. Ensure the kernels are all fully popped to prevent a choking hazard, and do not add any ingredients, such as salt or butter. 

DON’T use sugar free candy to treat your pet

You may think that sugar-free candy would be healthy for your pet, but many sugar-free foods contain xylitol, which triggers a rapid insulin release, and results in hypoglycemia. Signs include vomiting, weakness, ataxia, lethargy, seizures, and coma. At high dosages, liver failure can occur.

DO use lean meats to treat your pet

Lean meats, such as turkey, chicken, and fish, are healthy treat options for your pet. They are a great protein source, and pets find them extremely palatable, making them a high value treat. Always remove all skin, fat, and bones before feeding meat to your pet.

DON’T use pumpkin spice goodies to treat your pet


While canned, cooked pumpkin can be a good addition to your pet’s diet, other ingredients in pumpkin spice goodies can cause problems.

  • Cinnamon — If consumed in large quantities, cinnamon can irritate your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.
  • Nutmeg — Nutmeg contains myristicin, which is toxic to pets. Signs include disorientation, elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, stomach pain, and seizures.

DO limit your pet’s treats

Treats are a great way to praise your pet and bribe good behavior, but treats should compose only about 10 percent of your pet’s diet. Overweight pets are at higher risk for several serious health issues, including cancer, diabetes, respiratory problems, and arthritis. Limit your pet’s treat intake, to ensure they remain slim and healthy.

Making some pet safe treats in advance is a great way to prevent your pet from coveting your Halloween candy. However, if your pet does ingest a toxic substance, immediately contact our team at Animal Medical Hospital of Naples, so we can get them the help they need.