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Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or the winter solstice, we are officially in the season of eating. When family gathers at the dinner table, some lucky dogs get to pick up the scraps - and some may even get their own plate! But before you prepare that extra portion for your dog, consider these tips to prioritize nutritional health and safety for your pet this giving season. Here are 5 holiday foods never to give your dog, and 5 holiday foods that are safe to feed your dog.
5 holiday foods to NEVER feed your dog:
Conventional wisdom tells us to “give the dog a bone,” but not in this case. While most raw bones are safe for canine consumption, cooked bones are brittle which means they can splinter (choking hazard!). If one of these sharp fragments is swallowed, it can cause very serious damage in the intestinal tract. Because you probably cooked your turkey this year, avoid giving these bones away for chewing. Even raw bones can be splintered, however, so supervision is key.
2. Mashed Potatoes
While potatoes are fine for dogs to eat, holiday mashed potatoes are traditionally cooked with considerable amounts of butter, cream, and salt. Dairy products, though not toxic to dogs, can give them unnecessary discomfort. Dogs lack an abundance of the enzyme lactase which breaks down and digests lactose. Thus, ingestion of dairy for dogs can lead to gas, indigestion, diarrhea, and general gastrointestinal irritation.
Even though it is tempting to dump some warm, meaty gravy on Fido’s kibble for a Thanksgiving treat, most gravy recipes do not accommodate to canine digestion. Just like in the mashed potatoes, gravy has too much dairy for dogs and it can upset their digestion. The higher concentration of fats found in gravy is also problematic. When dogs consume food too rich in fats, they run the risk of developing pancreatitis - a painful and serious inflammation of the pancreas. Try a bone broth instead!
Any good stuffing recipe will be quite dangerous for your dog. Onions, scallions, leeks, and some mushrooms are toxic to a canine system and can even be fatal. Don’t risk putting down any stuffing, casserole, or goulash this year. These ingredients are common in many foods.
Alcohol is NEVER safe to feed to pets. Dogs do get drunk, however, they lack the ability to safely metabolize ethanol. Even a small amount of alcohol in a dog’s system is extremely toxic and can cause metabolic acidosis and death. Beyond ethanol, grapes (used in wine) and hops (used in beer) are both also toxic for dogs. To sum it up: your dog doesn’t need a drink - even if it’s been a long day.
Now that the stuffing’s put away and the booze is out of reach, what’s left for the pup? These 5 foods are safe to feed your dog this holiday season:
White meat please! As you may have noticed, turkey is a common and popular ingredient for dog treats and kibble. Turkey is just fine for dogs so long as the fatty sections are avoided. The skin, legs, and dark meat can be too rich for dog digestion, which can lead to the aforementioned pancreatitis. Stick with white, lean slices of turkey and you’re good to go.
2. Sweet Potato
Dogs love sweet potato! If your dog is craving a mash this year, skip the russets and go straight for the sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are high in dietary fiber, low in fat, and contain vital nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and essential vitamins. Sweet potato is known to support healthy digestion as well as skin and fur.
Cranberry is a fruit with many antioxidants and medicinal properties known to help with both dogs and people alike. Cranberries are good for dogs and are great for assisting a UTI, ulcers, or high cholesterol. However, use caution if you’re serving a cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce often contains raisins, grapes, and currants which are all highly toxic to dogs. The high levels of sugar in cranberry sauce can also be upsetting to pups. So if you’re sharing your cranberry sauce, keep it plain.
4. Green Beans
Remember: no casserole! But green beans by themselves are a superfood of sorts for dogs. Green beans are packed with protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins. They are recommended as a healthy treat option, and can be used supplementally in a weight loss program. Just be sure to consult with your vet before starting a new diet regime.
While pumpkin pie is obviously too loaded with sugar to cut the dog a slice, plain pumpkin from the can is a great treat for pups. Pumpkin is great for dog digestion. It's known to help with both diarrhea and constipation due to its high levels of dietary fiber. It’s just a bonus that most dogs love the taste.
With these tips in mind, your holidays are sure to be fun, safe, and healthy for all. Pups rejoice and Season’s ‘Eatings! Pssst! If you’re looking for the perfect holiday treat for your pet, try our Muttstletoe! It’s Thanksgiving in a bite, featuring turkey, pumpkin, and cranberry - hand-crafted and dog approved.