Holiday Feasts: What Your Dog Can and Can’t Eat

As the holidays approach, it’s natural to want to slip your pup a bite or two of celebratory dinner.

Just remember: some holiday foods are safe, healthy, and delicious for dogs, but others can be dangerous. Be sure to double-check each ingredient as you’re making a plate.

Safe

Turkey
Almost all dogs are bonkers for turkey, and they’re often not picky about what part of the bird they’re eating, so feel free to save scraps that might be grisly or tough. Just make sure it’s lean meat, remove excess fat, and triple-check that there are no cooked bones, which can cause choking or damage your dog’s digestive system.

Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes are tasty and filling, which is why they’re sometimes used in dog food or treats. Feel free to give your pup a scoop, but be extra aware of any other ingredients. A little dash of dairy (like butter or milk) is fine, but onions or garlic can cause upset tummies.

Cranberry Sauce
This antioxidant-rich fruit is great for dogs, most of whom love it as much as their humans. Just watch for added sugar, which isn’t great for animals, and keep portion sizes small.

Cheese
As long as your dog isn’t lactose intolerant (which only a tiny percentage of pups are), moderately sized portions of cheese are tasty treats. Choose the lowest-fat option available, and avoid extra-stinky cheeses (like extra-pungent blues.) Feel free to steal an apple slice off the cheese tray, too.

Unsafe

Alliums
Alliums include garlic, leeks, and scallions. Tiny, well-cooked portions of these aren’t dangerous, but in large quantities, they can cause indigestion and even be toxic to dogs.

Grapes
Grapes—and other products made with them, including raisins and wine—can cause kidney failure in dogs. Be extra careful about dishes that you might not immediately know contain raisins, like stuffing, salads, and other casserole-type dishes.

Alcohol
Even in tiny doses, alcohol can poison dogs (and other pets.) Be particularly careful with dishes that you might forget contain alcohol, like fruitcake (often made with rum) and other boozy desserts.

Chocolate
Most of us know that chocolate isn’t safe for dogs, but it’s worth extra vigilance during the holiday season when there are extra sweets in the house. Keep chocolates, cookies, and brownies well out of reach of pets, and make sure that everybody in the house understands what can and can’t be snuck under the Thanksgiving table.

One More Thing to Keep in Mind

The holidays are wonderful times of celebration, but they can bring chaos, too. Make sure that everybody in the house understands what’s safe to feed pets, be aware of signs of stress, and keep treats to very moderate portion sizes. If your dog has a delicate stomach, keep some canned pumpkin on hand in case of digestive upset. And always keep your vet’s name, phone number, and address handy.

Meet the Author: Charlotte Austin

Charlotte Austin is a Seattle-based writer and mountain guide. She has climbed, explored, and led expeditions in North and South America, Nepal, Europe, Alaska, and Patagonia. Her writing has been featured in Women's Adventure, Alpinist, Stay Wild, and other national and international publications. When she's not guiding in the Himalayas, she's exploring her hometown (Seattle, Washington), trying new recipes, and hanging out with Huckleberry, her giant black Great Dane-Lab mix. Read more about their adventures at www.charlotteaustin.com.

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