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Christmas Foods for Dogs: What’s Safe and What to Avoid

Delicious foods are undoubtedly a major part of the Christmas celebrations for most of us, and it’s only natural to want to share some of the festive treats with your four-legged family members. However, as a responsible dog owner, it’s crucial to be mindful of what’s safe and what’s not when it comes to your canine companion’s festive feast.

Alison Frost

Author: Alison Frost

Edited By: Anna Bain

Christmas Foods for Dogs: What’s Safe and What to Avoid

Canine nutritionist at ProDog Raw, Alison Frost, with over 20 years of experience working with dogs, provides her expert advice on the Christmas foods your dog can enjoy and those they should steer clear of. This guide explores a range of holiday foods and their suitability for your canine companion and share some special dog-friendly seasonal treats you can make at home.

1. Can my dog eat chocolate? — A Big NO

While this is fairly common knowledge, it often bears repeating. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine that is highly toxic to our canine companions [1]. Dark and bitter chocolate contains a higher levels of theobromine, making chocolate with higher percentage of cocoa even more hazardous [2]. Therefore, ensure your dog is safe from this temptation during the holiday season —keep chocolate out of their reach!

2. Can my dog eat meat ?— A resounding YES, except for salty varieties

Lean leftovers of turkey, beef, lamb and other meats are safe for dogs. However, avoid heavily salted meats like cured ham. Dogs require some sodium in their diets, but their sodium requirements are much lower than humans. Excessive salt consumption can lead to symptoms like vomiting, excessive thirst, lethargy, loss of coordination, and kidney damage.

Do avoid giving any cooked fats and skin, though – see below note on fats.

As a canine nutritionist, I advocate a natural diet for dogs which is predominantly meat-based. Whilst cooked meats are perfectly safe, super-tasty and rich in protein, raw meat delivers even more nutritional value. Learn more in our articles about the benefits of raw dog food and the complete guide to why dogs need meat.

3. Can my dog eat bones? — Only if UNCOOKED

Most raw bones are safe for dogs, but be careful to select an appropriate size. Cooked bones, on the other hand, become brittle and sharp, posing a risk of intestinal damage or blockages. Therefore, never give your dog cooked bones.

To learn more, check out ProDog’s guide to feeding bones to dogs.

Dog friendly Christmas food

4. Can my dog eat mince pies, grapes, raisins, and sultanas? — A firm NO

Grapes and raisins can be highly toxic to dogs, potentially causing kidney failure [3]. The exact toxic compounds in these fruits are still not fully understood, but even small amounts can make your dog very ill. Unfortunately, this means that mince pies and Christmas pudding, both beloved Christmas classics, are unsuitable for your fur friend.

If you’d like to include your dog in this seasonal treat, check out the dog-friendly Christmas recipes, which include dog-friendly mouthwatering mince pies.

5. Can my dog eat cooked vegetables? — Absolutely YES

Certain cooked vegetables like broccoli, kale, green beans, and carrots make extremely healthy additions to your dog’s meals. Vegetables are packed with enriching phytonutrients and antioxidants and can comprise up to 20% of their overall meals on an ongoing basis. Although, you might want to skip sprouts if you prefer a pleasant-smelling Christmas day!


Avoid onions and spring onions, which includes onion gravy as these are toxic to dogs

For a more fruity, plant-based addition with a seasonal twist, consider adding cranberries to the bowl. Renowned for their ability to promote urinary tract health, these superfood berries are an excellent source of nutrients and antioxidants. They are packed with valuable vitamins, such as Vitamin C, Manganese, Vitamin E, and K, as well as dietary fibre and polyphenols. If you’re dog is new to cranberries, it’s wise to start with a small portion to prevent any potential digestive upset. 


When it comes to diet, it’s important to note every dog is different; some will enjoy vegetables, and just like many children, you may need to disguise vegetables amongst other more tasty ingredients for others.

 

Berries are good for dogs

Learn More

Discover more everyday foods that are safe and unsafe for your dog in our What Can My Dog Eat A-Z guide.
Read Now

6. Can my dog eat cooked fat? — A definite NO

While you may be tempted to let your dog enjoy the fatty bits left over by human guests, it’s best to avoid this. Cooked fats, such as turkey or chicken skin and pork crackling, are inflammatory and can increase the risk of pancreatitis in dogs.

Many vet visits during the Christmas season result from dogs consuming cooked fats without their owners realising the potential danger, or worse, rummaging through the trash for them. Fat is super-tasty to dogs, so be aware that your dog’s natural scavenging instincts may kick in with the scent of cooked fats wafting in from the kitchen.

Discover more of the truth about fats for dogs in our all you need to know guide.

7. Can my dog eat gravy? — Surprisingly to some, also a NO

Salty gravies are particularly harmful to dogs, as they often contain wheat flour, salt, wine, and various seasonings that can lead to severe tummy upsets. While you might be tempted to share a delicious roast with your dog, gravy is a strict no-go.

8. Can my dog eat nuts? — Best to steer clear, especially Macadamias!

Having a bowl of mixed nuts around the house during the holidays is common, but not all nuts are safe for dogs. While a few unsalted, unseasoned peanuts or cashews won’t harm your dog, they aren’t recommended as a regular treat. Macadamia nuts, in particular, are extremely harmful to dogs [4]. Just a small handful can lead to toxicity in small and medium-sized dogs, causing symptoms like weakness, inability to walk, vomiting, tremors, and hypothermia. It’s best to keep all nuts out of your dog’s reach.

9. Can my dog eat bone broth? — A hearty YES

Homemade bone broths from leftover Christmas turkey are a great option for dogs. Simply place the carcass in a crockpot, add water and a spoonful of apple cider vinegar, and simmer for 8-10 hours to create a nutritious broth both you and your dog can enjoy. After cooling in the fridge, skim off any fat that accumulates on top.

Bone broth is packed with minerals and nutrients, has a great taste, supports a healthy gut, improves joint health, and helps keep your dog hydrated.

If you prefer ready-made bone broth, try ProDog Raw Scottish Bone Broth for dogs.

In conclusion, the holiday season can be fun and safe for the whole family, including the four-legged members. By following these guidelines on what foods to include and which ones to avoid, you can ensure that your dog enjoys a healthy and happy Christmas by your side. Our A_Z guide of what dogs can eat is an excellent resource to learn more.

Dog-Friendly Festive Treats

Discover our range of natural dog treats guaranteed to set tails wagging with delight this holiday season
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References

References

1.Noble, P.-J.M., Newman, J., Wyatt, A.M., Radford, A.D. and Jones, P.H. (2017), Heightened risk of canine chocolate exposure at Christmas and Easter. Veterinary Record, 181: 684-684. Doi.org/10.1136/vr.104762

2. Linda K. Dolder (2013),Methylxanthines: Caffeine, Theobromine, Theophylline. Small Animal Toxicology (Third Edition), Chapter 60, Pages 647-652. Doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-4557-0717-1.00060-0.

3. Eubig, P.A., Brady, M.S., Gwaltney-Brant, S.M., Khan, S.A., Mazzaferro, E.M. and Morrow, C.M.K. (2005), Acute Renal Failure in Dogs After the Ingestion of Grapes or Raisins: A Retrospective Evaluation of 43 Dogs (1992–2002). Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 19: 663-674. Doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-1676.2005.tb02744.x

4. Hansen SR, Buck WB, Meerdink G, Khan SA. Weakness, tremors, and depression associated with macadamia nuts in dogs. Vet Hum Toxicol. 2000 Feb;42(1):18-21. PMID: 10670081.

Image credit Darek Roslaniec on Unsplash

Image credit Jamie Street on Unsplash

Image credit Ewien van Bergeijk – Kwant on Unsplash

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