‘Tis the season to be cooking and eating a bunch! And dogs love to eat. But there are a list of holiday foods dogs can’t eat.
Here’s a guide to keeping your pup safe during the holiday food season.
Halloween. Thanksgiving. Hanukkah. Christmas. New Year’s. If you celebrate one or more of these holidays, it’s no secret that there are certain foods associated with each of them.
As a dog parent, this begs the question of whether or not these foods are safe to share with your canine companion.
Welcome to the holiday edition of the list of food your dog can’t eat!
In this post, you will find common holiday foods which you should keep out of your dog’s reach. Here’s a handy infographic on dangerous holiday foods for dogs:
To find out more about why these common holiday foods are dangerous for your dog, read on.
Halloween seems like that one time in a year when it’s socially acceptable to hoard sweets like candy and chocolates (to give out or to binge eat, whatever floats your boat).
Hanukkah and Christmas (and yes, Valentine’s) celebrations feature chocolates and candies too, though maybe not as prominently as when the Jack O’ Lanterns are out and about.
As is common knowledge for dog parents, chocolate is very toxic for dogs.
It has ingredients like theobromine and theophylline, both of which are fatal to dogs. Plus, it has caffeine, another no-no food for pooches.
Candy, on the other hand, has a lot of sugar content in it.
It can easily make your dog diabetic or obese and their teeth rotten. Sugar-free alternatives are no good either, as it’s very likely that they are sweetened by xylitol, yet another toxic ingredient for dogs.
So if your trick-or-treat haul includes sweets, best keep it away from your pooch. Leave the chocolate coins and candy canes for the kids (or yourself, we won’t judge!).
There are three major kinds of drinks that you shouldn’t allow your dog even a taste of this holiday season: caffeinated, alcoholic, and dairy.
Coffee or energy drinks are somewhat necessary to keep you running during the busy holiday season, but be careful about leaving your drinks out where your dog can get a taste.
Caffeinated beverages have ingredients which are toxic for dogs so keep the coffee away from the doggy.
Next up are alcoholic drinks. Most celebrations aren’t complete without alcoholic beverages.
Even if you don’t usually drink alcohol throughout the year, the holiday celebrations often call for some wine, champagne, or other kinds of booze. It only takes the smallest amount to get your dog drunk or worse, give them liver damage.
Take note that alcohol is not just present as a form of drink but as an ingredient to some food like rum cake, pasta sauces, and more. Being careful about what you feed your dog during the holidays is a good idea.
Dairy products will be discussed further down the list, but a specific kind of dairy-based drink is very common during the Christmas season and should be avoided by your dog: eggnog.
Not only is it dairy-based, it also has alcohol in it. The other ingredients like sugar, fat, and raw eggs are no safer for your dog.
If you’re going to be cooking, there will be some spices involved. The most common spices that are often added for taste (and not just during the holidays) are onion, garlic, and salt.
Onion and garlic are known to cause anemia in dogs, not to mention indigestion.
While there is no doubt that they make wonderful addition to human food, they should be kept as far as possible from your dog’s meals.
As for salt, there is such a thing as sodium ion poisoning in dogs.
This type of poisoning is possible when your dog ingests salty food. Like in humans, huge amounts of salt in your dog’s diet can lead to kidney damage and even death.
There are other spices that lurk around during the holidays that are dangerous for your dog as well.
They may seem unassuming in their powder form dusted on top of drinks and pastries, but cinnamon and nutmeg are two spices which can cause stomach pain, seizures, and hallucinations in dogs.
They’re sweet and may contain ingredients like chocolate, alcohol (ex. rum cakes and fruitcakes), cinnamon and nutmeg.
But what else do you have to watch out about pastries, which are also common during the holiday season?
Even when pastries are still in their raw form, they can pose a problem for your dog. Bread dough needs yeast to rise, and if ingested by your dog, it can cause inflation and fermentation in your dog’s stomach.
Fried doughnuts, also called sufganiyot, are a Hanukkah staple, and with the red custard/jelly filling and powdered sugar topping, it’s hard to say no to.
However, it’s filled with fats, sugar, and calories which are detrimental to your dog’s health. Pancreatitis is also a possibility if your dog eats this pastry.
While safe for human consumption, there are holiday fruits which should not be fed to dogs.
Particularly, grapes and raisins are the most common. Kidney failure is a potential threat even with small amounts of these fruits, whether eaten alone or as an ingredient to something else (like fruitcake).
If you’re a dip kind of person, avocados may be part of that too. Avocado has persin, which is toxic to dogs. So when it comes to your dog, your avocado should be more of an avocadon’t.
Dairy, in its many forms, is not a good thing to feed your dog.
Basically, it will cause digestive upset if your dog happens to ingest it. As mentioned above, eggnog is a dairy-based drink that your dog shouldn’t get a taste of. Any other milk-based drink or food is also off limits.
Cream is a common form of dairy that is present during the holidays.
Whether it’s to top off your hot chocolate or cake (which are also forbidden, by the way), or as an ingredient to your fruit salad, it’s practically a holiday staple. The only thing it shouldn’t be part of is your dog’s diet.
Cheese is also pretty common during the holidays, with Hanukkah and Christmas both coming to mind.
While it’s great food to serve during the celebrations, you won’t be celebrating if your dog happens to get a bite of it.
When talking about celebrations, there is yet another dairy-based food that everyone enjoys: ice cream.
While you may be tempted to give your dog a lick, think of the many components that make it dangerous for your dog to consume: dairy, sugar, and fats.
Other Dangerous Holiday Foods for Dogs
What about the turkey, you might be asking. For the most part, majority of the turkey is not safe to feed to your dog, particularly the fats, the bones (which can splinter), and the skin (which can be salty).
However, feeding your dog the turkey’s meat is not a total no-no. Just make sure that it doesn’t have any of the aforementioned parts and/or gravy that has ingredients like onion, etc.
Cranberry sauce is also a must-have during Thanksgiving. But if you’re planning to give your dog a taste, make sure that it’s the unsweetened variety.
Otherwise, the fruit itself is okay to give to your dog and can even have health benefits for your dog.
Yet another holiday ingredient staple is nuts. Macadamia nuts are the most specific kind of nuts which are toxic to dogs, but any other kind which is salted can be just as dangerous.
Any tart, pie, or cake (basically, get your dog away from the fruitcake, stat) that has nuts should be avoided.
Anything fatty should be avoided, as it can cause pancreatitis in dogs. This includes holiday favorites ham and bacon.
Latkes are deep fried, and the oil can cause your dog’s stomach to get upset as well.
The fried cooking process of Hanukkah can also pose a danger for your dog, so make sure to keep your dog away from the kitchen when you’re preparing the meals. Here are more Hanukkah safety tips for your dog.
Safe Holiday Foods for Dogs
Your dog can still be a part of your holiday celebrations even when they can’t eat majority of the food on the table.
There are still some holiday foods which can be safely shared with your dog just so they get to have a taste of the celebratory food:
Mashed potatoes are okay, as long as it’s unsalted and has no other garnishes yet (ex. Cheese, gravy, etc.). Just don’t give your dog too much as potatoes are still carbs, and too much carbs can lead to obese dogs.
Vegetables like green beans can also be fed to your dogs, provided that they are not salted and/or mixed in something like a casserole. Your dog will surely enjoy this low-sodium treat.
Plain pasta is also something you can give to your dog. Set aside a portion before mixing in your pasta with the sauce and give it to your dog to snack on.
Don’t worry about the flavoring, your dog will like the pasta even if it’s plain.
Even if you can’t feed your dog with majority of the food on your table during the holidays, they can still be part of your celebrations. For instance, you can still dress them up in a costume of your choice (check out our Star Wars and superhero picks) and go trick-or-treating with them on Halloween (but keep the sweets to yourself!).
As for Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, there are some safe holiday foods for them to eat as well. Either way, it’s better to have your dog safe and sound during the holidays than have them eat something dangerous and ruin the festive mood for everyone.
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