Christmas means sharing rich food, indulgent treats and festive nibbles with our family, and that includes our dogs. But many Christmas delicacies are poisonous to our furry friends. In fact, according to the Kennel Club, vets reported a 75% increase in dogs suffering from poisoning in December than any other month. They also report a rise in cases of pancreatitis.
Unfortunately, the Christmas food we enjoy is full of toxic ingredients that are dangerous to dogs. So, if you want to know what Christmas foods your dog can eat and what they can't, read on.
Christmas foods my dog can eat and what they can't
There are many types of Christmas foods, so we have split them into three categories:
Poisonous – Do not feed to your dog
Unhealthy – Feed in small quantities as a treat
Safe – Feed in larger amounts
Let’s start with Christmas foods you should not feed your dog.
Poisonous Christmas foods – DO NOT FEED
Pigs in blankets
Chocolate contains harmful chemicals which are toxic to dogs and can cause heart and nerves problems. Don’t place chocolate presents under the Christmas tree and remember to keep advent calendars out of reach.
It is best not to give dogs nuts of any kind. Nuts such as macadamia, walnuts and pecans are poisonous to dogs and can cause seizures or neurological problems. Give doggie peanut butter instead.
Peppermint candy canes often contain a sugar substitute called xylitol. This causes an enormous drop in glucose in dogs and causes hypoglycemia, liver damage and seizures, and can be fatal. Be careful with any mint treats and watch out for the cellophane wrapping. This can lodge in the throat or intestines.
Like peppermint, many desserts contain xylitol, which is harmful. You’ll often find spices such as cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg in desserts. Nutmeg is dangerous, as it causes hallucinations and seizures.
As well as artificial sweeteners and spices, biscuits and cakes can contain nuts, which are dangerous for dogs. They are also full of dried fruit like sultanas and currants, which are highly toxic and can cause kidney failure.
Christmas pudding and mince pies
As with biscuits and cakes, avoid Christmas pudding and mince pies, as they contain dried fruit like raisins. Treat your dog with one of our hanging Christmas tree decorations instead.
Milk and dairy
Dogs find it difficult to digest lactose and can end up with an upset stomach or diarrhea. Avoid anything with milk or cream, even if your dog looks like they want to eat it!
While it is tempting to pour a little Christmas beer or wine into your dog’s bowl, you should never give your dog alcohol. Even a small sip can lead to dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature.
Onions, and any other bulb from the allium family, are toxic to dogs, whether cooked or raw. They contain sulfur oxides, which destroy a dog’s red blood cells.
Garlic is a bulb from the allium family, but it is even more toxic in large quantities.
Stuffing contains onions and other spices and causes upset tummies.
Any skin from an animal is fatty and hard to digest for dogs. At Christmas we baste turkey skin in butter and cover it in spices that dogs cannot tolerate. Too much fat can cause pancreatitis. Try our turkey neck instead.
Avoid ham if you can, as it contains high levels of salt and sugar, and neither of these is good for our dogs. It is also highly calorific, which can lead to obesity.
Gravy contains salt, fats and other ingredients that dogs cannot tolerate. Ingesting gravy can lead to a sudden attack of pancreatitis.
Roast or mashed potatoes
Roast potatoes are basted in fat, which is unhealthy for dogs. Mashed potatoes are just as bad if they are mixed with butter, milk and seasonings.
Glaze is a sugar-based coating for meat and vegetables and not good for dogs. So, for example, even though dogs can eat carrots, you must avoid them if they’re coated in honey or sugar.
We should not give sauces such as cranberry and bread to dogs as they may contain sugar, spices, and dairy.
Pigs in blankets
Pigs in blankets are high in fat and calories and full of additives that dogs cannot tolerate.
Under no circumstances should you give cooked bones to dogs. They can splinter and puncture a dog’s insides, resulting in a trip to the hospital or worse, death. They are also a choking hazard and extremely dangerous. Why not treat your dog to a Serrano Ham Bone?
Unhealthy Christmas foods for dogs – FEED IN MODERATION
White turkey meat White turkey meat has more calories than dark meat, so we can give it in moderation, but don’t overdo it.
Although roast and mashed potatoes are a no-no, plain boiled potatoes are okay in small amounts. This is because they are starchy, and dogs cannot digest a lot of starch in one go.
If the cranberry sauce is homemade with no sugar or additives, a little is nice as a treat.
Give cheese in small amounts as a treat, but only cheddar, Swiss or mozzarella. Don’t give any blue cheese, goat cheese or feta.
Safe Christmas foods for dogs – GOOD FOR YOUR DOG
OK, so now we have put the fear of God in you, what Christmas foods can your dog eat?
Dark turkey meat is fine for dogs. This is because dark meat is leaner and won’t add too many calories to your dog’s diet.
Dog can eat Brussels sprouts so long as they are plain and fully cooked. If you are planning to add bacon or onions for yourself, keep a few aside without the extras.
Vegetables are a healthy source of vitamins and minerals for your dog, and luckily, they can eat most of them. For example, green beans, cauliflower, peas, squash, turnips*, pumpkin, broccoli, sweet potatoes and carrots are all safe for your dog. Just make sure they are plain with no seasoning, glaze or spices.
Remember, there are lots of ways you can treat your dog at Christmas, and although it’s tempting to give them what we are eating, certain foods can cause severe illness.
*Don’t give turnips to dogs with hypothyroidism or other thyroid disorders.