While you love spoiling your pet year-round, the holiday season is a time of sharing with friends and family, four-legged members included. During the holiday festivities, you may be tempted to spoil your pet more than usual with food, their favorite thing. Unfortunately, many holiday dishes are not safe for pets to enjoy and can lead to gastrointestinal (GI) upset, pancreatitis, toxicity, or an intestinal obstruction.
To avoid common food-related fiascoes, treat your pet right by sharing safe holiday foods. Follow along as our Greenfield Veterinary Clinic team shares a pet-safe holiday menu you can offer your four-legged friend.
Holiday foods that are unsafe for pets
As you’re devouring plates of Christmas ham, green bean casserole, and candied yams, your furry pal may be begging at your feet or pawing through the trash can for a tasty morsel. Many popular holiday foods are unhealthy for pets, so by ensuring your four-legged friend keeps their paws off unapproved treats, you help prevent them from developing serious health problems.
Some common holiday foods are hazardous to pets’ health. Do not serve your four-legged friend the following foods:
- Ham — Ham is salty, sweet, and high in fat content. Do not feed your pet this traditional holiday meat.
- Meat bones — Bones from a turkey, ham, or other meat seem like a great treat for your pet. However, if your four-legged friend gnaws cooked or raw bones, they can experience serious health issues such as a GI obstruction or perforation, a tooth fracture, or an oral puncture.
- Casseroles — Rich, hearty casseroles typically contain large quantities of sodium, fat, and other unhealthy ingredients. Toxic ingredients used to flavor casseroles often include onions and garlic.
- Nuts — Nuts are high in fat, and often come seasoned or covered in chocolate. In addition to posing a choking hazard, macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs.
- Dairy products — Pets are generally lactose intolerant and suffer GI problems if they consume large amounts of butter, milk, cream, cheese, and other dairy products.
- Desserts — Baked goods often include chocolate, and sugar or xylitol, a sugar substitute, all of which are dangerous to pets. If your pet eats any of these sweet treats, they can experience GI upset, heart problems, low blood sugar, or liver failure.
- Alcohol — People often celebrate the holidays with festive cocktails and alcoholic beverages. However, a small amount of alcohol can intoxicate your pet. Immediately wipe up spilled alcoholic beverages, and never share a drink with your pet.
Safe holiday foods for pets
Although most holiday dishes seem to be unsafe for pets, your furry pal has plenty of healthy options they can safely enjoy. Some tasty holiday treats your pet can enjoy include:
- Turkey or chicken
- Fish (e.g., tuna, tilapia, salmon)
- Fruits (e.g., apples, bananas, berries, melons)
- Vegetables (e.g., green beans, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes)
How to make holiday treats safe for your pet
Rather than inviting your pet to your holiday feast and dishing them up a plate from the smorgasbord on your table, make a safe and healthy plate just for them. When serving your pet holiday foods, follow these healthy preparation tips:
- Remove skin and bones from lean meats — Turkey and chicken skin are extremely fatty, and bones pose a choking and obstruction hazard. Serve your pet boneless, skinless, unseasoned turkey or chicken breast.
- Avoid seasonings and toxic ingredients — Salty seasonings, garlic, chives, and onions are commonly used to spice up a dish, but they can cause your pet toxicity or GI problems. Other foods that are toxic to pets include grapes, raisins, currants, and avocados.
- Cook fully — To eliminate food-borne bacteria in meat you plan to serve your pet, you should fully cook the food to a safe internal temperature. Steam or roast hard fruits and veggies to soften them and make them easier and safer for your pet to eat.
- Serve small portions — While healthy alternatives to traditional holiday foods make excellent pet treats, you should only serve your four-legged friend small portions. Too much of a good thing can interfere with your pet’s digestion and overall health, so limit treats to 10% of your furry pal’s daily caloric intake.
A pet-safe holiday dinner can include roasted sweet potatoes, steamed green beans, a fresh fruit medley, and turkey breast or fish. You can add a healthy dessert of plain canned pumpkin topped with plain, low-fat yogurt. Also consider stuffing a food puzzle with xylitol-free peanut butter, spray cheese, canned tuna, baby food, or other safe food favorites your pet enjoys.
The holiday season should be fun and festive, but if your furry pal gets their paws on an unsafe food, disaster can result. If your pet eats something they shouldn’t, call our Greenfield Veterinary Clinic team.