There is nothing better than a yummy Christmas Dinner on 25th December, surrounded by family, friends… and furries! Many of us will figuratively invite our pets to the table on Christmas by sharing our food with them as a special treat; some of us might even invite them literally as well!
Whilst this is a lovely thought, it is widely accepted that most human food is just not good for your dog, some of it is even dangerous. So here’s our Christmas guide to what Christmas foods your pet can have, and what you should leave on the Christmas table…
Turkey and other Christmas meats can absolutely be shared with your dog. Make sure that the meat isn’t too salty (if you have a cured joint or have put on a salt rub before cooking) or too sweet (such as honey glazing) as your dog is smaller than you and this will be far more pronounced to them.
If you give your dogs bones, set them aside prior to cooking. Cooked bones splinter and can cause serious injuries. It is also important to keep the leftovers stored somewhere safe, where your pooch won’t manage to snaffle a cooked bone without you noticing! If you want to give them a special treat, why not treat them to some turkey giblets… Mmm!
Be careful feeding the fat trimmings as well… A little Christmas treat is fine but don’t make this a habit as excess fat in the diet can cause pancreatitis – see our article on fat in treats for more information on this lesser known but scary risk.
There are lots of tasty sauces available at Christmas, but as a rule of thumb, you should avoid feeding these to your dog unless in very small measures.
Cranberry sauce often has a lot of added sugar which is not something that your dog’s body is used to metabolising. Even if the risk of diabetes is a rather over-serious consequence, a poorly tummy for your dog should be avoided as well!
Gravy is a doggy favourite, but again, you should be careful, especially with store bought brands. They can be very high in sodium which may be way over-exceeding your dogs daily allowance, without you even realising. If you have made the gravy yourself and have a better idea of what’s in it, this is always a more agreeable option.
Bread sauce is made predominantly with milk/cream so this traditional favourite could give your dog’s meal that extra decadence fit for Christmas day – do mind that it isn’t overly rich, though. Again, be very careful with store bought brands and ALWAYS check the label, especially if your dog has ever suffered from allergies or is suspected as being allergic to any foodstuffs.
A lot of sweets, baked goods, and products that are artificially sweetened, contain a product called xylitol. This is highly toxic to dogs and can cause drops in blood sugar as well as liver failure. There are plenty of tasty doggie treats out there, so give sweets a miss with your dog. This could also include some dried fruits (particularly those with luxury sugar coatings).
Sherry (other Christmas tipples are available…)
A lot of people have wondered if it would be funny to see their four legged friends drunk; would they act the same as us on a rather misguided Saturday evening after a few too many…? Remember, alcohol is not good for us (as much as we wish it was!) and it is definitely not good for your dog. Pronounced symptoms can include vomiting, lack of coordination and difficulty breathing. If your dog REALLY over-indulges, it could even result in coma and death. Now, don’t panic if your dog sticks their nose in your tipple, but certainly don’t be going pint for pint with them!
All dogs seem to LOVE cheese, and I suppose this is why I’m a dog person… you’d be crazy not to love a cheese board, after all! That being said, dairy can often upset your dogs tummy and is known to trigger certain allergies in some dogs that may make them super itchy! Over indulgence of the grapes on the cheese board can also cause kidney failure, so if you’re treating from the board, keep tidbits to a minimum.
I bet every single one of us will eat something chocolate-y this season – whether it’s a yummy hot chocolate, a decadent cake, or a sneaky square after dinner. We all know that chocolate is not good for our pooches, though, and this is down to a chemical called theobromine which upsets your dogs stomach. It can also cause shakes, diarrhoea and seizures so is best to be avoided. The good news is that they make special dog chocolate so you and your furry pal can enjoy those yummy treats together, entirely guilt free!
If you’re the gifted chef type, you may be baking up some yummy treats this Christmas. Be wary of leaving dough that contains yeast in easy to reach locations. If your pooch consumes the dough, it may continue to risk in their stomachs causing discomfort and pain. Additionally, if the yeast ferments, it can create alcohol leading to the risk of alcohol related effects as above.
What CAN I treat?
So you’re probably thinking “great, what Christmas treats CAN I give my dog?!” but all isn’t lost… Save some meat tidbits, add sauce sparingly, and add some yummy roasties and veg! A cheeky bit of cheese on Christmas Eve won’t hurt, and you can even treat them to some doggy chocolate for dessert on the big day… There are also companies that do “drinks” for dogs if you want to have a holiday toast, and you can check our article on healthy rawhide for guidance on where to get that special festive toy (and to keep them busy while you’re cooking up the main event…). Think “little is more” and make sure to appropriately store all foodstuffs safely out of the way of chancy paws…
Happy feasting everyone! Remember, it might feel cruel not to feed the bearer of those gorgeous puppy dog eyes, but they love you anyway and we much prefer avoiding a festive visit to the vet!
Photo Credit: BBC Good Food