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A man holding a glass of juice, petting a cat at a table.
Pet Blog

Pet-Safe Holiday Foods to Share with Your BFF


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 furry friends have perfected those irresistible “feed me please” eyes—yes, cats are experts too—you're not alone. We completely understand the temptation to share a bit of your meal with them. After all, making them happy is our top priority, isn't it? But, before you do, it's crucial to know about safe foods for dogs and cats, especially when it comes to holiday feasts.

Those extra-rich holiday meals, while delicious, can be a minefield for your pets. Extra spices, salt, and an overload of fat in these festive delicacies can pose risks. And when it comes to human foods dogs can eat, there are some significant differences to note. 

For instance, while your dog's usual diet might be rich in healthy fats, a butter-basted turkey packs a much higher amount of saturated fat than their standard turkey kibble. Remember, turkey skin, laden with fat, is a no-go for pets. The same goes for both white and dark meat – moderation and careful preparation are key. Dive deeper into this topic with our comprehensive guide about safe dog food on Thanksgiving!

The golden rule for feeding human food to pets is to stick to plain, unseasoned options. Sure, potatoes are generally pet-safe, but often we forget about the not-so-safe butter and garlic added to those creamy mashed potatoes. Even small servings of fatty or oily foods can lead to gastrointestinal issues, or worse, pancreatitis – a serious condition involving the inflammation of the pancreas. This is why it's essential to understand and offer only safe dog food from your table, perhaps by preparing a special, pet-friendly plate just for them.

With that being said, there are plenty of safe foods for dogs and cats that they can eat plain and in moderation! You can confidently serve up:

    • Potatoes
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Pumpkin
    • Winter squash
    • Zucchini
    • Carrots
    • Corn (off the cob—cobs can cause intestinal blockages)
    • Green beans
    • Peas
    • Spinach
    • Apples (cored and seeded)
    • Cranberries
    • Bananas
    • Melon
    • Plain yogurt
    • Low-fat cheese
    • Cooked egg
    • Salmon
    • Chicken breast
    • Popcorn

Foods to Avoid

While we savor various foods during the holidays, it's crucial to remember that some of our favorites can be harmful, or even deadly, to our four-legged family members. It's a good practice to avoid seasonings (including salt and pepper) and added fats in any human food that dogs can eat, as these can lead to digestive issues. However, there are more items that could be on your holiday table, posing risks ranging from mild discomfort to serious health threats.

Here’s a quick list of what NOT to feed your pets – and while this is by no means an exhaustive list, it serves as a helpful reference in highlighting some of the biggest offenders:

  • Garlic and onions: They're toxic to pets and can harm their red blood cells.
  • Poultry bones: Their shards can cause internal damage.
  • Raw red meat: It might contain harmful bacteria and parasites.
  • Macadamia nuts: Extremely harmful to dogs, they can damage the nervous system.
  • Chocolate: Even small amounts can cause distress, while larger amounts can be fatal. In case of accidental ingestion, use a chocolate toxicity calculator to determine the need for a vet visit.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Xylitol, in particular, can lead to liver failure.
  • Grapes, raisins, and currants: Known to cause kidney failure in dogs and pose health risks to cats.
  • Unbaked yeasted doughs: The yeast can rise in the stomach, leading to blockages and potential alcohol poisoning.
  • Alcohol: It can cause severe health issues and, in some cases, death.

The thought of a simple raisin being so dangerous might be surprising, but don't panic. Awareness of these risks is your first line of defense in preventing any accidents. If you have pets that are curious tasters, consider keeping them away from the kitchen and dining areas during food preparations and meals to prevent any unsupervised snacking on harmful foods.

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 versions of safe dog food at 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.


Updated December 22, 2023