Christmas Food Your Dog Can & Can't Eat
When preparing your Christmas dinner it is fun and a special treat to put some safe bits and pieces of food by for your dog too, so they can enjoy a special Christmas dinner or treat. But not all food is safe for dogs to eat. Some human morsels can be bad for your dog in an unpleasant but minor way like causing digestive upsets while other food stuffs are far more dangerous for canine's in a toxic way and may even cause death.
While many traditional Christmas foods can be enjoyed by humans, it's important to be cautious when sharing them with dogs. Some holiday foods can be harmful or even toxic to dogs. This is in no way intended to be an exhaustive list of all festive fodder but rather a general guideline of some of the more common fare:
In our infographic above we show the human foods that are OK and not so good for dogs to consume. Please remember though that even safe human grub should be fed to your dog in moderation. Too much of any food and especially an unfamiliar food, whether harmful or not, can upset your dog’s stomach or make them ill.
No one likes feeling full and bloated on Christmas day. You are in charge of making sure your pet does not eat beyond their own comfort levels. Moderation is important. You don't want to make your dog sick.
OK for your dog’s Christmas dinner
There are quite a few human foods to avoid feeding to your dog but there are some yummy staples of a Christmas dinner that your dog can safely eat in moderation.
Your dog can enjoy small amounts of cooked boneless, skinless white meat like chicken or turkey.
Feel free to let your dog try a little on their turkey if you like but only a little and only if it is pure cranberry sauce with nothing else added like sweeteners or other fruits, nuts etc...
A tasty festive treat but make sure you only feed your dog plain mashed or boiled potatoes with nothing else added (e.g. salt, butter). Again, moderation is important. Potatoes, no matter how they are prepared or cooked are very starchy, which dogs can struggle to digest.
Take it easy with veggies but you can feed your dog some carrot, parsnip, green beans, courgette, Brussel sprouts, broccoli florets (very small amount only), peas, spinach, cauliflower etc... Most green or mixed veg is fine for dogs. If you do a mashed carrot and swede with your Christmas dinner your dog is sure to love that but don’t add butter or seasoning to their portion. Avoid corn on the cob and bulb vegetables such as onions and leeks.
I love scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for my Christmas Day breakfast. As a treat you can cook your dog an egg too. Eggs are a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals and are good for our dog’s health. If you are worried about the salmonella risk of feeding raw eggs, cook them. Scrambled is a great way to cook eggs for your dog, but don’t add milk, butter or salt of course. As for the smoked salmon, I think the jury is out on that one but I keep that all for myself anyway, lol.
Can be high in sugar and can also be acidic, which can upset your dog's digestion so give in moderation and remove the pips/stones first. The fruit to avoid is rhubarb. The stalk of the plant and also its leaves are toxic to canines.
Don’t feed to your dog
Bird bones are hollow and whether raw or cooked they can easily splinter, making them a dangerous puncture or choking hazard. Cooked bones, such as those from turkey or ham, can splinter and cause serious health issues, including blockages and perforations of the digestive tract. It's safer to avoid giving any bones to dogs.
Turkey or chicken skin
Any of these types of foods are far too fatty for your dog. Fat can cause inflammation of the pancreas (Pancreatitis). Avoid feeding any fatty foods to your canine chum. Foods high in fat like cooked skins, gravy and rich sauces, can cause pancreatitis in dogs, which is very serious and requires immediate veterinary attention.
Very tasty but too salty and fatty for dogs. They will enjoy their turkey dinner just as much without gravy. It is best avoided.
Onions, garlic and other bulb vegetables (e.g. chives, leeks, shallots)
Onions are a definite no as they are poisonous to dogs. This includes any variant such as onion powder. Also avoid feeding your dog other bulb vegetables e.g. chives, leeks and shallots. Garlic is a contentious issue and while a little bit of garlic is not toxic to your dog it can have a dangerous cumulative effect.
Herbs and spices
Dogs are not used to eating herbs and spicy foods and stomach upsets may result.
A mixture of breadcrumbs with onions, spices and herbs. The onions can be especially dangerous (see above) so stuffing is therefore best avoided.
Bacon and ham
These foods are far too salty and fatty for dogs. Goodies like pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped on bacon) and hams are high in sodium and fat. They can be difficult for dogs to digest and won't make them feel good. Additionally, the seasonings and glazes used on some hams may not be suitable for dogs.
Grapes, raisins, currants, sultanas
These are fatal to dogs, even in small amounts. Seek veterinary help immediately if your dog eats these foods. Some dogs can cope with eating a few but many cannot and you have no idea which way your dog may react so don’t risk it at all.
Mince pies, Christmas pudding and fruit cake
Apart from being full of dangerous fat, these festive treats contain dried fruits (such as raisins, see above), spices and sometimes alcohol.
A festive favourite for many of us but both the fruit and the stone of the avocado contain a chemical that is dangerous to dogs.
So tasty but a big danger to dogs. It contains Theobromine which can be deadly to canines, even in small amounts. Keep it well out of their reach at all times.
Yeast and uncooked dough
It rises and ferments in the stomach. Not only painful but can be fatal. Keep yeast and dough safely away from your dog when doing your Christmas baking.
Human deserts and sweets
Many desserts contain ingredients like chocolate, raisins, nuts and artificial sweeteners. Keep all sweets, puddings and desserts out of reach of your furry friends. They are way too sweet and sugary for dogs and even if they are sugar-free they will likely contain artificial sweeteners. The sweetener Xylitol is very dangerous to dogs and sugar is bad for your dog’s waistline and teeth.
Macadamia nuts and walnuts are toxic to dogs and salted peanuts of course won’t do your dog any favours. Other nuts such as cashew nuts, pistachios and almonds are OK in small quantities but may be hard to digest and may cause stomach upsets.
Fruit pips and stones
Dogs love fruit but only in moderation and be sure to remove all pips and stones first. Many fruit stones and pips (e.g. apple, cherry, peach, pear, plum, and apricot) contain cyanide, which is poisonous. But actually the danger of intestinal blockage is why this is on our list, which probably poses the greater risk.
Milk and dairy products
Take it easy when it comes to giving your dog any milk and dairy products. Dogs have difficulty digesting lactose so upset stomachs can result.
Some are OK but some are not so our advice is to avoid feeding them to your dog.
Be sensible and safe
If you want to share a holiday meal with your dog, stick to dog-friendly treats and foods. They will be thrilled if you prepare them some plain, unseasoned meats and vegetables.
If you are not sure what they might tolerate then don't risk it. No one is going to thank you for a sick dog on Xmas day, especially not the dog. Also remember that each dog is different and some doggies may be more sensitive to certain foods than others. If you do share any holiday foods with your dog or if they grab and eat something they shouldn't , it is crucial to monitor your dog for any signs of discomfort or illness and seek veterinary attention if needed.
Other dog Christmas food tips
- No booze or caffeine – clear cups and glasses away and put all coffee and alcohol out of reach of your dog.
- Keep pets out of the busy kitchen to prevent accidents.
- Don’t over feed your dog – with dog food/treats or with human food/treats.
- Dispose carefully of wrappers, human food and especially bones.
- Take the rubbish out and whether the rubbish bags are inside or out secure them so they can’t be broken into. Dispose of leftovers, especially the bird carcass, carefully.
- Ask all visitors not to feed your pet anything. It is easier than trying to get everyone to follow the food rules above and if everyone gives your pet tit bits it will soon add up to a lot of extra food.
Finally, don’t let your dog ingest your Christmas greenery. Dog’s love to sniff and nibble at new things in the home. A new plant placed at their level is sure to be investigated. Popular Christmas plants such as poinsettias, mistletoe and holly are toxic to dogs so keep them well out of reach of your pets.
By Jenny Prevel
Disclaimer: D for Dog assumes no responsibility or liability for the content of this article or the listed foods. If unsure, please seek veterinary advice.