Break out the pumpkins and candy corns! It's Halloween once again. For those of us who are pet parents, it's time to come up with some new ideas about how to make the holiday fun for our furry little ones. While there are some really innovative and cute already-made costumes out there, and lots of places to buy pre-made Halloween pet treats, carving out time for some spooky DIY is a really hands-on and fun way to celebrate.
To that end, we've come up with some great do-it-yourself ideas that don't take a lot of time and effort.
DIY Dressing Up
DIY costumes are a treat to make, and a fun way to impress your friends with your creativity. Handmade outfits can be simple, super-fancy, or somewhere in between - you're only limited by your imagination.
The simplest way to go about making a costume is to use everyday items you find around your home. An ordinary necktie transforms your dog into "Corporate Pooch." Attach an old pillowcase, scarf or baby blanket to his collar, and now he's "Superdog." Add a paper crown, and he's royalty! The old retro sheet-with-the-eyes-cut-out ghost costume really works well with bigger dogs, and bandages from your first aid kit can turn your dog from a puppy to a mummy.
If you're up for more of a challenge, start off with a child-sized white hoodie and some fabric paint. Hoodies make a great base for pet costumes, as you can add almost anything to them, and the hood offers a framework for adding fun headpieces.
Paint your hoodie so that it resembles a turtle, cow, bumblebee, bat, or anything else you can dream up. Use fabric to make capes, skirts, vests, and buttons, beads, and other trinkets to accessorize. For details ears, appendages, flower petals or witch hats, a sturdy felt works best. For antennae or spider legs, pipe cleaners are a good bet. If you're short on time, try browsing the local costume or craft store for premade hats, wings, wigs or other fun stuff attach to your costume.
For a little inspiration and some more detailed instructions, check out these simple, yet great ideas from Pets Lady, as well as these cuties from Pet MD (the ghost dog is our personal favorite). Of course, the maven of all things crafty, Martha Stewart, has adorable DIY costume ideas that are definitely worth a try. We especially love the DIY "Spider Dog" her own bulldog Francesca is wearing. Martha is hosting a pet costume contest this year, so if yours turns out amazing, you can enter!
DIY Tasty Treats
What's Halloween without some spooky treats? Offering your pet holiday treats is a delicious way to get them into the spirit.
Making homemade dog treats is a far simpler endeavor than you may think (definitely easier than making the people variety!), and you can use ingredients that are likely in your pantry or fridge already.
Just like baking for people, dog treats require a combination of wet and dry ingredients. Gluten-free flour or 100 percent potato flakes are a good choice for dry ingredients, while milk, eggs, broth or water - or some combination of all of these - can be used as wet ingredients. You don't have to use eggs, but they do help bind everything together. You may have to play with the ingredient amounts until you find something that works perfectly.
To give some pizazz to your treats, you can add in pretty much any dog-appropriate food you want. Pureed liver, chopped or pureed chicken, shredded cheese, chopped apples, and pureed pumpkin or squash are some great choices.
Mix these items in together with your wet ingredients, then stir in your dry ingredients until a dough forms. Roll out the dough, then use a cookie cutter to cut it into spooky shapes. Bake the treats, let them cool, and voila! Handcrafted treats for your pooch, your block party, or any trick-or-treating pups that stop by.
To give you a little help, we found some recipe ideas we really love. We think this pumpkin treat recipe and this truly simple cheesy chunks recipe from Crazy Crumb Dog Treats sound truly yummy. We also love these options from the Doggy Dessert Chef.
Some Halloween Safety Tips to Remember
Halloween is all about a good scare, but real holiday dangers do lurk about for your pets. Here are some safety tips:
•Your pet's costume shouldn't contain any toxic glues, materials or paints.
•Your pet's costume should be snug, but not too tight. Make sure that headpieces are on properly, and that cords, ribbons and collars fit loosely around the neck to avoid entanglements.
•All small pieces, such as buttons or accessories, should be secured tightly to costumes.
•Keep all chocolate candy - especially dark chocolate - out of reach of your dog or cat at all times. Chocolate has a chemical that is toxic to dogs and cats when ingested.
•Carefully monitor what your dog or cat eats. Raisins and macadamia nuts can make dogs very sick, and candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be highly toxic to both dogs and cats.
•If kids, crowds, or commotion make your dog nervous or overly excited, or if he guards your front door like a Roman sentinel, it may be best if he stays somewhere quiet and out-of-the-way during Halloween festivities. You can always celebrate together later with a dog treat and some leftover candy.
With a little inspiration and a dash of imagination, you and your pup can have a howl-er-iffic Halloween to remember. We're off to start our own DIY holiday projects, so Happy Halloween from TripsWithPets.com!
TripsWithPets.com is an online resource for pet travel. Named best pet travel site by Consumer Reports, TripsWithPets.com's mission is to offer resources that ensure pets are welcome, happy and safe while traveling. The website features a directory of pet-friendly hotels and accommodations across the U.S. and Canada, as well as airline and car rental pet policies; pet-friendly restaurants, beaches and events; a user-friendly route search option; pet travel tips; pet travel supplies; and other pet travel resources.
Author Kim Salerno is the president and founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy and safe in their travels.