Written by Anna Hollisey
They’ve got their own stocking and Christmas hat – will your dog be joining you for Christmas dinner? Our pooches deserve some festive treats. But not all our traditional dishes are suitable for them to eat. So what can we dish up for our dogs on Christmas Day?
Does the smell of roasting turkey bring your pets (as well as the rest of the family) into the kitchen? Then you’ll be pleased to know that this lean meat is great for dogs. It contains plenty of protein and B vitamins.
To prepare turkey for your dog: Cook it without onions or garlic (both toxic for dogs) or any other herbs or spices. Then avoid the bones (splintering hazard) and the skin (too salty and fatty) and carve your dog a juicy slice. Just make sure it isn’t too hot before serving it up.
This might sound a little bland to us, but dogs don’t have anywhere near the amount of taste buds we do so they’re not missing out.
If your dog didn’t come to sniff the delicious turkey scents, the pigs in blankets will definitely draw them into your kitchen! Sausages wrapped in bacon are among the most decadent dishes on our Christmas tables. Your dog would love to snaffle one too. Unfortunately, they’re not good for our canine companions. Sausages and bacon are both high in salt and fat, which can cause heart disease and obesity. While both are acceptable as a (very) rare treat, they shouldn’t form a major part of your dog’s Christmas dinner!
Whether you love a traditional sage stuffing or gourmet cranberry-and-chestnut creation, this festive dish shouldn’t be on your dog’s plate. Stuffing is usually made with onions and garlic – which are both toxic for dogs, causing stomach pain or vomiting. Not exactly what you want on Christmas Day.
Tossed in goose fat and roasted until crisp and golden: roast potatoes or vegetables play an important part in Christmas dinner. Can our dogs have one in their festive supper?
It depends on your dog (and your recipe). Roasted vegetables are usually too high in fat to feed to overweight dogs. But a fit and healthy dog can enjoy an occasional roast potato or parsnip, provided it hasn’t been lavishly doused in oil or sprinkled with salt. (It’s possible to cook low-cal versions in an air fryer!) If you’re serving up a variety of vegetables, it’s best to select the steamed or boiled and unsalted veg for your dog’s dinner. Some – like carrots, greens and sweet potatoes – will even give your dog a nice vitamin-boost.
Cranberry sauce and rich gravy are the essential finishing touches for our Christmas Dinner. Is it okay to dribble some on your dog’s dish?
Gravy looks harmless, but it’s usually made from the meat drippings, with salt, wine, and salty stock added in. All those ingredients are very bad for dogs: a moderate amount of salt can lead to salt toxicosis, with symptoms including vomiting and even seizures. Gravy typically has a high fat content, without the nutrients which are provided by the meat itself.
Cranberry sauce could be a healthier option, although there’s no guarantee that your dog will approve! Cranberries can be good for dogs, with lots of antioxidants which boost heart health. Just make sure you’re not combining cranberries with unsafe ingredients. If your sauce came from the store, check the label for grape juice, raisins, sweeteners or sugar – which are all toxic to dogs in varying quantities. If your sauce is safe, just be careful your dog doesn’t steal the entire dish, because excess cranberry consumption can quickly cause an upset stomach.
If your dog is a certified gravyholic, you could simply buy them some ‘Christmas dinner’ wet food for the big day. It contains gravy which is specially formulated for canine stomachs, without the unnecessary salt or alcohol that we love adding to ours…
Sweet potatoes are surprisingly good for dogs. They’re high in fiber and vitamins and low in calories. However, a casserole baked with cream or marshmallows is going to reverse those credentials. Large doses of sugar and fat (while obviously making the dish delicious) cause tooth decay and heart problems in the long run.
If you really want to share this dish with your dog, you could make a lean version using skim milk and an oat crisp topping. Then serve them up a small portion – because sudden, excessive sweet potato consumption can give your dog stomach problems.
As a rule, our festive puddings contain too much sugar to be suitable for dogs… and anyway, they’d probably prefer a second helping of turkey.
Mince pies are forbidden – they typically contain raisins and currants, both of which are toxic to dogs (and the smaller the dog, the less it takes to poison them). While your dog might have an eye on the harmless-looking pumpkin pie, it’s not safe either: cloves and nutmeg can be toxic for dogs.
Does your dog have a sweet tooth? If you’re a truly devoted owner, you could make your dog their own pumpkin pie using unsweetened pumpkin puree, honey and eggs… or try some festive snowman cookies with dog-friendly ingredients like eggs, peanut butter and oat flour.
There’s a lot of temptation around the home at Christmas. Cases of dog poisoning rise sharply during December, and alcohol and dangerous foods are among the most common causes.
Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs (even just 4g – that’s one truffle), so beware that sharing box; it should never be kept on a low table. Nuts, especially walnuts and macadamia nuts, are also very dangerous for dogs. Cheese can cause severe stomach upset for dogs, who don’t digest lactose as easily as we do. And keep your mulled wine and cider on a high shelf, especially if your dog has a curious tongue. Alcohol poisoning can happen surprisingly quickly; if your dog is small and your drink is potent, they’ll only need to ingest a little to feel the effects.
While we all love spoiling our dogs at Christmas, we should think carefully before we give them a handful of our favorite festive treats. In many cases, the consequences aren’t worth it.