The holiday season is full of friends, festivity, and FOOD! All those tasty holiday dishes smell very tempting to pets and people alike—but which ones are safe to share with your dog or cat?
Foods to Share
If your pets are anything like ours, they’ve nailed the “feed me please” puppy dog eyes (cats included). And if you’re anything like us, you want to share what you can with them—you’d bend over backward to make them happy, so what’s a bite of human food, right? Unfortunately, extra-rich holiday meals can be risky to feed your dog or cat. You have to watch out for extra spices, salt, and fat packed into all these flavorful delicacies!
While your dog’s normal diet is full of healthy fats, a butter-basted turkey is hiding way more saturated fat than there is in their normal turkey kibble. (You should also skip feeding pets turkey skin, which is especially high in fat, and separate the white and dark meat. Read more on how to safely serve turkey in our guide to dog-safe Thanksgiving foods!)
The best way to serve human food to your pets is to reserve plain, unseasoned portions just for them. You might know that potatoes are pet-safe, but it’s easy to forget all the unsafe butter and garlic hiding in an innocent-looking bowl of mashed potatoes! Even small amounts of fatty or oily foods can cause gastrointestinal problems and even pancreatitis—a dangerous swelling of the pancreas. That means no feeding your pets from the table unless you prepare them their own plate.
With that being said, there are plenty of holiday foods your cats and dogs can eat plain and in moderation! You can confidently serve up:
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash
- Corn (off the cob—cobs can cause intestinal blockages)
- Green beans
- Apples (cored and seeded)
- Plain yogurt
- Low-fat cheese
- Cooked egg
- Chicken breast
Foods to Avoid
Some foods that are delicious for people are irritating or downright dangerous to dogs and cats. As a general rule, it’s good to avoid seasonings (yes, even salt and pepper) and added fats altogether because they can cause digestion problems. There are many other foods that might be on your holiday table which can be a source of everything from mild diarrhea to loss of life.
Do NOT feed your pets:
- Garlic and onions (they are toxic to pets and may damage their red blood cells)
- Poultry bones (shards can cause internal distress and tearing)
- Uncooked red meat (can harbor dangerous bacteria and parasites)
- Macadamia nuts (very dangerous to dogs, causing damage to the nervous system)
- Chocolate (small amounts can cause mild distress while high concentrations can be lethal—use a chocolate toxicity calculator if your pet ever ingests chocolate to know if you should head to the vet)
- Artificial sweeteners (in particular, xylitol can lead to liver failure)
- Grapes, raisins, and currants (can cause kidney failure in dogs and health problems for cats)
- Unbaked yeasted doughs (the yeast can continue to rise in your pet’s stomach, causing blockages and possibly alcohol poisoning)
- Alcohol (can cause severe health issues and even death)
Who knew a raisin could be so risky? Before you start panicking, take a deep breath. These are all worst-case scenarios, and knowing the risks helps you to avoid any slip-ups! Consider keeping pets prone to taste testing out of the kitchen and dining room during food prep and mealtime so they can’t snag any dropped morsels without you knowing.
With all that being said, there are ways to safely share your holiday foods with your pets as long as you feed them carefully! That might mean skipping the pumpkin pie and swapping it out for some plain, cooked sweet potato, but trust us—they’ll still be excited about their pet-friendly versions of the holiday buffet.
It’s also a-okay if you want to skip stressing about ingredients and keep things simple! Leave the people food to the people and stock up on some special dog or cat treats so that your pets can go feast mode during the holidays too. The goal is for the holidays to be delicious and stress-free for everyone, so kick back with your plate and feel good knowing you’re a well-informed pet parent.