It’s the holiday season and that means one thing: lots of extra food!
Families gather for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Boxing Day, Yuel and so much more.
There’s gifts and feasts. A lot of us indulge more than we should.
Most of us also want to share with our pets. It’s a special time of year and food is an easy way to include them in all of the festivities.
However, you need to be careful. There are some foods that will make them sick if they’re shared. It can be hard to feel confident in what your dog can and can’t have during the holidays.
We’re here to help break it down and give you some security in your decisions.
Leftovers Not to Give Your Dog
This list is probably going to be longer than most of you would like, but it will pay off in good health and a longer life.
Most dog owners are aware that chocolate is dangerous for dogs. It can cause cardiovascular and neurological problems.
There’s no set amount by weight a dog can handle either, so it’s better safe than sorry. Chocolate should be avoided all together.
Whether homemade or store bought, avoiding eggnog is for the best.
It’s full of sugar and spices that can make your dog ill. It’s dairy based and many dogs are lactose intolerant.
Homemade eggnog often includes raw egg whites. While these are okay in small amounts, too much raw egg white can hinder your dog’s ability to process important b vitamins.
Peppermint Candy and Treats
Peppermint everything is very prevalent throughout the holidays.
It’s in cookies, candycanes, mints, chocolates and so much more. It feels impossible to avoid for a portion of the year.
Your dog needs to skip out on the peppermint overload of the holiday season.
While a fresh peppermint leaf may not hurt them, all of the things in those goodies will.
Peppermint is often in treats that contain xylitol or other artificial sweeteners that are toxic to your dog.
This is another holiday treat that your dog needs to skip out on. Sometimes we don’t think about the full ingredient list and what hidden things might be in our cookies.
Gingerbread contains nutmeg which is very toxic to dogs.
They’re in cookies, cakes, pies, fruitcakes and even set out in bowls. Some of us roast them or make them into candy.
Macadamia and walnuts are toxic and can cause neurological problems and seizures.
Almonds, pistachios and others can cause stomach upset, vomiting and can be a choking hazard for some.
Onions are part of the allium family and shouldn’t be given to dogs. There are compounds in them that can be toxic to dogs.
But, it isn’t just onions. Your dog shouldn’t eat anything that’s part of the allium family.
This includes onions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots and scallions.
Grapes and raisins are both toxic for your dog. They can cause kidney damage.
They’re better left in your fruitcake or on your fruit tray.
Your dog can have potatoes, but it’s all of the other things we put in the mash to make it taste extra good that can give your dog problems.
Some people add milk, or butter, sometimes both and salt to season them.
All of these can cause stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhoea - not to mention all of the added calories.
This is another one that most people know about much like chocolate, but just in case you didn’t know or weren’t sure we’ve added it to the list.
Dogs can’t metabolise alcohol and it becomes a toxic compound in their body.
So before you think about sharing your spiked eggnog (which the nonalcoholic variety has already made the list for other reasons!), rum cake or any other goodie that has alcohol in it: you should reconsider.
Alcohol does “burn off” when cooking, but it takes a very long cooking period of at least three hours for all traces of alcohol to be gone. Even then it’s always better safe than sorry.
Store Bought Goodies
We all love those limited time snacks we can only get around the holidays. They usually come in the form of candy.
Chocolate oranges, packaged cookies, candy canes and whatever other snacks you enjoy around the holidays just aren’t made to be shared with your dog unfortunately.
They normally have huge amounts of added sugar, fats and other ingredients that aren’t good for your dog.
Once again, you’ll have to be on the lookout for xylitol which is the worst of the worst when it comes to sugar substitutes.
You might be thinking to yourself “Bones? What’s wrong with bones? My dog loves them as an occasional treat.”
The bones from holiday hams and turkeys have been cooked for a very long time and are brittle from it. They can crack into shards and injure your dog as they get stuck in their throat or puncture another internal structure.
So, it is best to skip out on the leftover bones from your holiday dinner.
A lot of holiday foods are incredibly rich which makes them delicious, but there are some health problems that can arise if your dog partakes in these treats.
Too much fat can cause stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Some dogs will even suffer from pancreatitis which will need to be treated by a vet.
So, reconsider sharing those ham and turkey scraps with your favourite canine.
Ham is also very high in fat even once the excess is trimmed off, so keep the amount shared very small to none.
This also includes stuffing and gravy.
Highly Seasoned Foods
We hear you, “But, that’s all holiday food!” We know. A lot of holiday food is very seasoned.
It’s full of salt, sugar, spices and alliums always seem to make the table. Your dog needs to avoid these things.
They can lead to illness, weight gain and other health problems.
Leftovers You Can Share with Your Dog
We know the list of what not to share feels so incredibly long, but don’t despair.
There are still plenty of tasty tidbits to go around.
Just keep in mind that you may have to make your canine companion their own little batch without the seasonings and extra butter.
Fruits and Veggies
There are all sorts of fruits and veggies your dog can have as long as you serve them raw or cooked in a fashion where fats and seasons are not added.
Steaming and boiling are both good cooking options.
You can try squash, pumpkin, broccoli, green beans, peas and apples.
Some lean turkey breast is a great source of protein for your dog. Just make sure you trim any excess fat and remove the skin first.
People don’t typically think about salmon for holiday dinners, but it is a popular substitute for ham or turkey.
It’s a great source of protein and healthy fats for your dog. It can help with dry skin and keep their coat healthy. Not only that but it’s good for their cognitive function.
If you like a nice roast instead of the typical fare, you can share with your dog.
Some lean slices of beef are a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals.
Now, this comes with a little bit of a caveat. Store bought cranberry sauce can be very sugary and isn’t even particularly good for us.
However, if you make homemade cranberry sauce, your dog can partake in it. Just a little bit will do. You only want to give them about a tablespoon.
You can also take some of your leftover raw cranberries and puree or boil them to share with your dog.
Yes, potatoes are fine. As was stated before, it wasn’t the potatoes themselves that were the issue.
It was all of the other ingredients added which make mashed potatoes a bad option.
So if you’re going to make mash and want to share, set a few pieces of potato aside after boiling and keep them unseasoned for your dog.
Christmas Dinner Recipe for Your Dog to Use Leftovers
This is a great way to include your dog in the holiday fun while also using up some of your leftovers! Just remember to keep in mind the information above that we’ve given you.
- Fenrir Dragon Egg or Hammer
- Plain Cooked Turkey
- Sweet Potato
- Cooked Beef or Chicken Sausage
- Shred the turkey into manageable bite size pieces
- Dice the carrots, cauliflower and sweet potato into small cubes that will easily fit into your hammer or dragon egg
- Chop the cooked sausage into small chunks
- Combine the turkey, carrots, cauliflower, sweet potato and sausage in a bowl
- Stuff the mixture into your Fenrir Hammer or Dragon Egg
- Ensure the bottom hole is sealed with the mixture or add some dog friendly peanut butter to prevent leakage, then pour in the (cooled) gravy.
- (Optional): Freeze for a few hours
- Give to your canine companion and make their Christmas dreams come true!
The holidays can be nerve-racking and it always feels like there’s something new to consider or watch out for.
We hope to have put your mind at ease even just a little. Now you know what to feed your canine companion and what to avoid, so you can focus on any picky relatives instead.
And, if you’re ever in doubt, please check with your vet. They are the best people out there to tell what is and isn’t suitable for your dog.
Do you have any foods you like sharing around the holidays that are dog safe or favourite recipes?
We’d love for you to share them with us or a picture of your dog enjoying their favourite holiday treat.
Come on over to social media and drop us a line. We’re always happy to hear from you.
What are some common holiday foods that are unsafe for dogs?
During the holidays, it's important to avoid giving your dog chocolate, peppermint candy, nuts, grapes/raisins, alcohol, bones (especially cooked ones), heavily seasoned foods, eggnog, gingerbread, alliums (like onions and garlic), mashed potatoes with added ingredients, store-bought goodies, and fatty foods. These can cause various health issues, from digestive problems to more serious conditions.
Why is chocolate dangerous for dogs?
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are toxic to dogs and can cause cardiovascular and neurological issues. There's no safe amount of chocolate for dogs, so it's best to avoid it entirely.
Can dogs eat nuts, and if not, why?
Most nuts are not recommended for dogs. Macadamia nuts and walnuts are toxic and can cause neurological problems and seizures. Other nuts like almonds and pistachios can cause stomach upset and pose choking hazards.
Are mashed potatoes safe for dogs?
Plain potatoes are safe for dogs, but mashed potatoes often contain milk, butter, salt, and other seasonings, which can cause digestive issues. If you want to share potatoes with your dog, it's best to set aside a portion before adding these ingredients.
What are some dog-safe holiday foods?
Safe holiday treats for your dog include lean turkey breast (without skin or fat), plain cooked salmon, lean beef, certain fruits and vegetables like squash, pumpkin, broccoli, green beans, peas, and apples, and homemade cranberry sauce with limited sugar. Remember to serve these in moderation and without added seasonings or fats.