Contributed by Ella Christenson-Sullins, 9 to 5 Pets
If you don’t want your furry four-legged friend to feel left out of your Halloween celebration but not sure where to start or you’re tight on time, you’re in the right place for all treats, no tricks, with these easy and healthy treat recipes and quick costume ideas. Your pup will love these Nala-approved spooky boo-berry yogurt and festive pumpkin and oat treats that only take two ingredients and five minutes to prepare. If your pup is finicky about wearing a costume like my girl Nala, or you need some last-minute costume inspiration, think outside the dog-costume box with some up-cycled and inexpensive ideas that will expand her Halloween wardrobe and keep her comfortable.
Festive Pumpkin and Oats Treats
This recipe is also very simple and only requires unsweetened and preferably organic or homemade pumpkin puree and toasted whole grain oats. I threw in a dash of cinnamon to my treats just for some extra benefits and flavor, but since you should only add a very small amount, it’s not necessary to the recipe. Pumpkin is an incredible superfood for dogs. Dogs Naturally magazine has a great list of all of the health benefits to including pumpkin in your pup’s diet. Pumpkin is rich in fiber, vitamins A, E, and C, which are important for eye health and boosting immune system and brain function, and also rich in iron, manganese, and potassium. Like blueberries, pumpkin also has tons of antioxidants that will help improve your pup’s health. According to AnimalWised, a pet blog covering all topics pet-related, oats are high in soluble fiber and vitamins B5 and B9, and can help keep your pup’s coat shiny and healthy. Just ensure that you use whole grain oats and toast the oats before including them in a dog treat since raw oats can be hard to digest. AnimalWised also praises cinnamon, used very sparingly in your dog’s diet, due to the spice’s high calcium content.
For this recipe, I also eyeballed the ratios to ensure I filled the rest of my spooky ice cube tray. I was sparing with the oats and cinnamon since these ingredients should only be included in your pup’s diet in moderation. I spooned my mixture into my tray and tapped the full molds onto the counter to ensure there weren’t any air pockets. These also freeze in about an hour like the boo-berry treats and can be kept in the freezer for about two weeks. My taste tester Nala loved these treats as well and could hardly hold still long enough for me to get a picture of her with them!
Spooky Boo-Berry Frozen Yogurt Treats
All you need to make these high-protein and vitamin-rich treats is fresh or frozen blueberries and unsweetened, plain Greek yogurt. I recommend using fresh blueberries so you can mash them up, but frozen works just as well if thawed to a softer texture. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), blueberries are a great source of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, making them a great addition to your pup’s diet, especially if you have a senior dog like Nala since the antioxidants can reduce the effects of brain aging. The AKC also touts greek yogurt as a good source of protein and calcium, and can even aid digestion with the probiotics found in the yogurt. Just make sure the Greek yogurt you use doesn’t have any sweetener or sugar added, since they don’t need the sugar and sweeteners like xylitol are toxic to dogs. However, like with any special treat, ensure dairy doesn’t upset your pup’s stomach and give it to them in moderation since it may be harder for them to digest. My taste-tester Nala is okay with dairy in small amounts so these treats are the perfect size!
This recipe is all about eye-balling for the amounts you’ll need. I have a fun skull and bones ice-cube tray that I used to mold and freeze my treats, so I measured out the amount of yogurt that would fill about half of the tray. Then, I squished about a spoonful of blueberries into the yogurt, making sure to not stir away all the blueberry striping. The spooky look of these treats comes from the fun blue-purple color of the smashed blueberries! You could even smash the blueberries directly into the mold and layer the yogurt on top if you want an even stronger blue-purple color. Once the mixture is to your liking, simply spoon it into the molds and leave to freeze for at least an hour. These treats will keep in the freezer for about two weeks. Nala absolutely loves these treats and I love knowing she’s getting lots of goodness from them!
Quick Costume Ideas
My dog Nala, as mentioned earlier, is not a big fan of wearing any clothing, let alone costumes. I’ve spent way too much on cute costumes that she only wore long enough for a couple pictures. To find fun ways to dress her up for Halloween while keeping her comfortable, I had to think outside of the traditional dog costume and look to my own closet for inspiration. I had pieces from previous Halloween costumes that I’ve kept over the years and even raided my niece’s outgrown dress-up clothing. So long as the pieces you find don’t have anything your pup can chew or bite off, it’s surprisingly easy to dress up your pup for the season without buying an expensive dog-specific costume that’ll only be worn once.
Headbands: Nala isn’t a fan of headbands, but if your pup doesn’t mind wearing them, they are an easy accessory to make a cute and quick costume. Devil horns, halos, bee antennas, bunny ears– the list goes on for these inexpensive accessories you probably already own.
Tutus: Another item you likely already own if you have some princesses or ballerinas at home, tutus are easy to slip on and off of your pet to make for a quick costume! They’re perfect for Nala who hates wearing shirts and dog costumes because the tutu keeps her legs free to prance and jump. No longer do I have to entice her with treats to put her legs through sleeves of a costume she ends up being miserable in! They come in so many different colors and finishes that you can find inexpensively at Target, Walmart, or a Halloween-specific store like Spirit. Kid sizes usually fit small to medium dogs just right. When picking a size, just make sure there won’t be too much excess fabric that they could trip on.
Wings: You can find wings of all sizes and colors at Target, Walmart, or a Halloween-specific store like Spirit that are meant to be worn by slipping your arms into the loops. I’ve found they work perfectly for pups as well after finding an old pair of angel wings from one of my own previous costumes. As long as they are big enough for your dog’s front legs to comfortably slip into and aren’t tight, these are one of the easiest options as the wings will stay put throughout the night and look absolutely adorable. Nala doesn’t mind wearing her little angel wings at all which is impressive considering how picky she is with wearing clothing and accessories! You can even choose from matching sets of wings and a tutu/skirt that make for a cute and complete costume.
Capes: Little superhero capes are also inexpensive and likely already on hand if you have children. They can be attached around your dog’s neck or to their collar and in a matter of seconds, you’ve got your own pup superhero!