What Can My Dog Eat For Christmas Dinner?

Because they’re part of the family 🐶🍽

One of the best parts about Christmas is all the yummy food you get to enjoy.

And while you’re already planning out your favorite Christmas dishes for this year’s menu, you might be wondering if your dog or cat is allowed to get in on the action.

To get some answers to this yummy question, The Dodo spoke to Dr. Lindsey E. Bullen, a board certified veterinary nutritionist at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in Cary, North Carolina, for some expert advice.

Can all pets eat Christmas dinner?

According to Dr. Bullen, some pets can handle certain human treats — but not all can.

“Please remember to always check with your veterinarian before feeding your pet any human foods,” Dr. Bullen advised. “Since every pet is unique, what is OK for one pet may not be OK for another.”

“Additionally, any pets with chronic illnesses or diseases should stay on their special/prescribed diet (if they are on one) as any deviation could result in illness,” Dr. Bullen said.

When in doubt, reach out to your vet or your local veterinary nutritionist for any holiday help!

Which foods are safe for my pet to eat on Christmas?

While tolerance to human foods depends purely on the individual pet, these foods could be considered safe for healthy pets on Christmas, according to Dr. Bullen.
  • Turkey meat (No skin, gravy, bones or meat fat. Even in small doses, these foods can cause a life-threatening condition in pets called pancreatitis.)
  • Salmon (No seasoning, no bones, not smoked.)
  • Scrambled egg
  • Green beans
  • Brussel sprouts 
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Plain, low-fat yogurt (check the ingredient list to ensure xylitol is not listed)

Which foods are unsafe for my pet to eat?

“While we want our pets to enjoy the holidays with us, we must be cautious when giving our furry companions certain foods, as some can actually be unsafe,” Dr. Bullen said.

According to Dr. Bullen, candies, cookies or pies containing grapes, coffee, chocolate (especially chocolate-covered espresso beans), macadamia nuts, walnuts or xylitol (a common sugar substitute used in many sugar-free candies and pastries) can be particularly dangerous if ingested by pets — so avoid them.

Other things to consider

Avoid garlic and onions. “Be sure all foods given to pets are prepared without garlic and/or onions, as these also pose potential dangers if ingested,” Dr. Bullen said. 

Don’t feed your pets raw food while cooking. According to Dr. Bullen, sneaking your pet raw food can increase their risk of contracting a foodborne illness, such as E. coli, salmonella or listeria.

Consider homemade treats. You can also opt for homemade treats to include pets in the fun during family meals around the holidays. “When choosing a recipe with your pet’s favorite flavors, be mindful of toxic ingredients that could cause a medical emergency,” Dr. Bullen said. “To look just like Christmas cookies, decorate treats using peanut butter (check the ingredient list for xylitol), yogurt and shredded carrots!”

When in doubt, discuss potential "treats" with a veterinary professional. This helps ensure no harm will come to your beloved pets during the holiday season.

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