Before my husband and I adopted our dog Rio, I thought there were only two kinds of Halloween: Kid Halloween (trick-or-treating, parties with dry ice in punch, binging on candy) and Adult Halloween (dressing in a skimpy or funny costume and heading to a bar to see live music). But as a pet parent, I discovered a fantastic third option: Howl-o-ween.
It all started when my friend Ali invited Rio to go trick-or-treating with her kids one year. I promptly went online and found a cute Spiderman costume that would fit a Labrador retriever. But Rio was not amused as I helped him slide his front paws into the sleeves, and he froze in place. Fortunately, he would swim across an ocean for Zuke’s Z-Filets, so taking a few steps across our living room in a costume for the tasty bribe was no big deal.
On Halloween night, Rio learned wearing a costume was totally worth the attention he got from Ali’s kids and other trick-or-treaters. His tail wouldn’t stop wagging with all of the people pausing to pet him or take photos with him. Best of all, we learned some houses give away dog treats to costumed canines!
I love that Halloween is just one more excuse for dog lovers to have a memorable adventure with our dogs. Here are some suggestions for making this one the best yet:
1. Go trick-or-treating. If you’re really gung ho, you can wear coordinated outfits like bacon and eggs, Khaleesi and a dragon (“Game of Thrones” is made for Halloween, right?), or go with the classic choice: dressing as cats.
2. Throw a dog party. Whether your guests come dressed as dogs, dress their dogs in funny costumes (a Dachshund in a hot dog costume slays me every time), or just come to hang out, you’ll want to have “doggy bags” with Zuke’s treats as party favors.
3. Make special Halloween treats for your dog and other canine pals. My friend Kelli Mlinarik Marko, an awesome dog mom and author of Thai cookbook A Taste of Heaven, shared a recipe for “pupcakes” that she makes for dog parties (see recipe below). Her dog Brodie is all too happy to lend a paw as a taste tester!
4. Watch scary movies. I’m a scaredy-cat, so I prefer movies like “101 Dalmatians” and “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” but if you really want to get freaked out, try snuggling with your dog on the couch while watching “Cujo” or “Pet Sematary.”
5. Let your dog help you greet trick-or-treaters. Keep her on leash if she’s an escape artist and have a big bag of Skinny Bakes or Z-Bones on hand to give to any dogs who arrive at your door.
6. Hit a dog costume parade that benefits a local shelter or animal welfare organization, or host your own.
7. Take safety precautions. Chocolate and the sugar substitute Xylitol are toxic to dogs, so if you’re having a party, ask guests to put candy wrappers in the trash instead of on a coffee table. You should also be ready to practice the “leave it” command if you’re out trick-or-treating. With so many distractions (and doors opening at home), make sure the contact information is up-to-date on your dog’s ID tag and with their microchip company. You might also want to attach a flashing light or glow stick to your pup’s collar since most activities will happen at night.
And remember to have fun and take pictures!
Pumpkin Apple Pupcakes
Recipe by Kelli Mlinarik Marko
Prep Time: 10-15 mins
Cooking time: 15-20 mins
Yield: 24 pupcakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3/4 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin (NOT pie pumpkin)
1 medium apple – peeled and small diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup cream cheese at room temperature
2 tablespoons applesauce
Zuke’s Mini Naturals for toppers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix oats, cinnamon, and flour. Pulse rolled oats ahead of time in a food processor if you want a finer texture.
In another bowl, mix the pumpkin, apple sauce, eggs (slightly beaten), and apple.
Slowly combine and mix the wet and dry ingredients. It will be a very thick mixture.
Scoop batter into a greased mini-muffin tin. Pile the pupcakes up high as they will not rise. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until you see the tops just barely starting to brown. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack, and let cool completely (you can leave them overnight if you wish).
To make the frosting, whisk together the cream cheese and apple sauce. If the frosting is not smooth enough, add one more tablespoon of apple sauce. Spread on pupcakes and decorate with Zuke’s Mini Naturals!
Cover photo by #ZukesPack ambassador Amber Pitcher. Pupcake photo courtesy of Jerry Marko.