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With the focus of the holiday season often around the menu for your holiday gatherings, it’s no surprise that this time of year can be an epic tease for hungry pups. If you’re spending the day (or several days) in the kitchen roasting, basting, stirring, and tasting, chances are there is a four-legged friend watching your every move.
While you might not be able to resist those sad, sweet eyes staring up at you, waiting for a delicious morsel to drop, it is important to know that some holiday foods are off-limits for your pup.
In order to prevent a holiday medical emergency or some gastrointestinal distress, we looked at common holiday foods to find options that delight your dog while keeping them safe.
While some seasonal indulgences shouldn’t hurt your pup, it’s important to know what’s okay to share – and how much you can give. The suggestions below are general guidelines. If your pup has allergies or a medical condition, avoid foods that will trigger a reaction. When in doubt, consult your vet before the season begins.
From snacks and appetizers to the main course and even dessert, there are plenty of food options that your dog can enjoy.
Yes: Parmesan, Cheddar, Mozzarella
No: Triple Creme, Brie, Blue Cheese
If you put out some cheese for people to snack on while you finish prepping your meal, it’s okay to share some with your pup. Cheeses that are low in lactose and lower in fat, like parmesan, cheddar, and mozzarella, are your best bets. Note that not all cheeses should be shared. High-fat cheeses like triple creme, brie, and some blue cheeses should be off-limits. Another type of cheese to avoid is flavored cheese with things like garlic, onion, chive, or hot peppers, as these can irritate your pup’s stomach too. When in doubt, choose another treat!
Yes: Fresh veggies
No: Dips and spreads
If you add a crudités platter with veggies and dip to your snack spread, sharing the veggies with your dog should be just fine. In fact, these low-cal crunchy treats can help your best friend feel included and not deprived. Carrots and cucumbers are popular with canine guests but if your pup is adventurous, feel free to try offering some broccoli or red pepper (the sweet ones). Just remember to skip the creamy, mayo-based dips. A little cream cheese is okay if your pup tolerates it. But don’t share any condiments like hot pepper jelly or fig spread.
Yes: If made without onions and garlic
No: Rich toppings like sour cream or spicy oils
Bone broth can have many health benefits for your pup. If you use it as the base for your butternut squash soup, your pup can enjoy it with you. If you are planning to share with canine guests, leave out the garlic, onions, nutmeg, and ultra-rich toppings like sour cream and bacon. You can use some fresh parsley as a garnish if you’re feeling fancy. As a bonus, it will help keep the pup’s breath fresh!
Yes: White meat without skin and bones
No: cooked bones, dark meat, or gravies
Like you, your dog has probably been smelling the turkey all day and is so ready for their fair share. It’s completely okay to offer your pup some turkey under a few conditions. Offer white meat with no skin, turkey bones, or gravy. Cooked bones are dangerous for dogs as they can splinter – no one wants to end dinner with an emergency trip to the vet!
Yes: White meat only
No: Cooked bones, dark meat, or gravy
If you are having a smaller gathering this year or simply prefer to roast a chicken, this is also okay to share with your dog. The same rules apply to the turkey, keep the skin, bones, and gravy off your pup’s plate.
Yes: Plain sauteed or steamed
No: Sauces or green bean casserole
If you are serving a green vegetable like sauteed green beans, you can certainly share these with your dog. They are low in calories and packed with nutrients. For your pup, keep these pretty plain and skip the heavy seasonings or generous amounts of butter or oil. You can top theirs with fresh herbs like parsley if they enjoy that.
Yes: Plain baked or roasted
No: Marshmallows, nuts, or syrupy toppings
Roasted or baked sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber and other nutrients. If your pup enjoys them, it is okay to offer some with their holiday meal. Do not give them casseroles loaded with maple syrup, marshmallows, or nuts!
Yes: Plain potato
No: Butter, sour cream, bacon, or cheese
You can ‘save’ some mashed potatoes for your pup. Before you add the butter, cream, and salt to yours, take out a small portion for your dog. The extra fat and salt aren’t good for your dog’s stomach, but potatoes contain fiber and vitamins, so they are considered an acceptable source of carbohydrates.
Yes: Sauteed or steamed
Spinach is another superfood that your dog can safely enjoy as part of their holiday meal. Sauteed or steamed spinach is fine to offer to your pup. You can see if they will eat it raw, but most pups will spit out uncooked spinach and look for something more appealing.
Yes: Fresh fruit like apples, berries, and melon
If you want to give your dog a sweet but healthy treat, consider a piece of fruit while all the humans chow down on the pie. Great choices include berries, apples, or melons. As out-of-season fruit can be pricey, you might want to stick to what is in season where you live.
Yes: Plain whipped cream
No: Flavored whipped creams or large quantities
If you are making some whipped cream (or throwing some store-bought in a bowl), you can certainly share a taste with your dog. But keep it to a small taste; your pup doesn’t really need the sugar. For lactose-intolerant pups, consider coconut whipped cream.
No: Salami, Proscuitto or pâté
If you serve some meat with your cheese board, you should mostly refrain from sharing these with your pup. Popular Charcuterie choices like salami, prosciutto, and pate are going to be too high in fat for your dog and often contain spices like nutmeg or hot pepper that can make your dog sick.
No: grapes or raisins
Do not ever feed your dog grapes or raisins. They can be deadly to dogs, even in small quantities. Vets aren’t 100% sure why this is or how little your dog needs to ingest to get very sick. Remind any guests in your home that they should not share grapes or raisins with your dog. Should your pup get a grape or raisin by accident, call the vet immediately for further instructions.
Yes: Unsalted olives
No: Pickles or overly salty olives
While a few unsalted olives might be ok to offer your pup, most of the pickles and olives that we eat will be too high in sodium. Additionally, some of the spices used in the pickling process might make your pup sick. It’s best to leave these for the humans.
No: Stuffing of any kind
Bread, onions, and lots of butter make stuffing a no-go for your pup. Most dogs can tolerate a little bit of wheat flour, but a large chunk of bread is completely unnecessary. Not to mention the toxic onions and loads of fatty butter. Since your pup’s plate and belly should be getting plenty full, you don’t have to feel bad about having them pass on this dish.
While cranberries are just fine for your pup, you will want to avoid sharing cranberry sauce. No matter if it is store-bought or homemade, it will have way too much sugar for your dog. You can share dried cranberries with your pup but before you do, check the ingredients. Some dried cranberries have added sugar or our sweetened with fruit juice. Apple juice-sweetened cranberries are ok but be wary of cranberries that are sweetened with grape juice, as these will make your pup sick.
Sharing some fresh green beans with your pup is a great way to allow them to indulge safely, but you will want to keep them away from green bean casseroles. These contain additional fat and dairy and are usually topped with fried onion straws.
While corn won’t make your pup sick, the added cream and bacon or onions in dishes like creamed corn or corn pudding can. If you want to share some corn with your dog on the holiday, keep it plain but off the cob.
These are definitely a no-go for your pup. Loaded with nuts, sugar, and spices like nutmeg, they are sure to make your pup sick. Even if they don’t, they are much too high in fat and calories. Consuming this much sugar regularly can put your pup on the path to obesity or diabetes.
These should also be a no-go for your pup. In addition to a lot of butter, oil, and sugar, many popular recipes feature ingredients that can make your dog sick. Watch out for chocolate chips or shavings, nutmeg, raisins, and nuts like macadamias.
Yes: Plain air-popped popcorn
No: Popcorn with butter, salt, or another seasoning
Whether you’re stringing up some popcorn and cranberries or gathering around for a movie night while the whole family is in town, popcorn is a good snack to share. Plain, air-popped popcorn is a great treat for your dog. It’s low in calories and high in fiber. If you’re having a family movie night, it’s okay to allow your dog to join in and enjoy a snack with you. Avoid adding butter and extra salt to your pup’s popcorn, as they don’t need it!
Yes: Small pieces of bacon with the grease very well drained
No: Large greasy strips of bacon or sausages
If you’re hosting a holiday breakfast or brunch, keep your pup out of the bacon and sausages. These meats are high in sodium and fat, which can irritate your dog’s stomach, especially if you’re already sharing some tasty treats. A little bacon (with the grease well drained) can be shared, but be careful not to give your pup too much. Sausages should be avoided because they not only have a high-fat content but they may also contain spices and seasonings that can make your dog sick.
With a buttery crust, meats, cheeses, and spices, quiches are also not the best choice for sharing with dogs. Eggs and dog-safe vegetables (hold the butter, salt, and spices) are good to share with your dog so if you want to make a pet-friendly treat, consider some scrambled eggs with veggies or a piece of an omelet.
Avoid sharing holiday ham with your dog. It is high in both fat and salt, which can lead to upset stomach or pancreatitis
Yes: Plain fish like grilled or roasted salmon or whitefish
No: Fish cooked in creamy sauces or fish with high mercury content, like Tuna
If your family participates in the feast of the seven fishes or just likes to have some fish on the table instead of meat, it might be okay to share with your pup. If you bake your fish in a creamy or fatty sauce, consider leaving a piece plain for your pup to enjoy. Salmon and whitefish are among the best choices. You can even share plain oysters with your pup. Avoid sharing fish like tuna that can have high mercury content.
Whether at breakfast or on a Christmas buffet, cheesy potato side dishes are a favorite at many gatherings. These contain far too much fat (and salt) to share with your pup. While a tiny taste might not hurt, it’s best to leave this dish for human guests.
While some white meat turkey (hold the gravy) is a great choice for sharing with your pup, the bones are not. Cooked turkey bones can easily splinter and cause injuries to a pup’s mouth or intestinal damage or blockage that would need surgical intervention.
No: Seasonal salads with nuts, grapes, or raisins
Trainer Ari Pomo, CPDT-KA, PSRI, reminds her clients that “Lots of salads served at this time of year contain grapes, raisins, nuts, and other ingredients that can be toxic to dogs. Waldorf salad, for example, is a holiday favorite that’s made with grapes, apples, celery, and mayonnaise. While apples and celery are perfectly safe for your pup, grapes are highly toxic, and mayo can cause digestive issues.”
So, if you’re bringing a dish to pass this holiday season, check the ingredients list first to make sure it’s safe for any pups in attendance. And if you’re not sure, it’s best to be cautious and keep it out of their reach.
Note: Vets don’t know why raisins make some dogs so sick, but even one raisin can send some dogs to the hospital so if you’re cooking with them, make sure to keep them far away from the dogs and off of the floor. Remind all of your guests, even children, not to share anything with raisins with dogs.
Christmas cookies are also on the no-share list. This is because they have too much sugar and may contain raisins, nuts, and spices like nutmeg, which can make dogs very sick. If your pup does get into the Christmas cookies, call your vet (or the local emergency room) for instructions right away.
While potatoes aren’t necessarily bad for pups in moderation, these fried holiday treats can contain too much fat and salt for them to be safe to share. Some recipes also mix in some onions for flavor, so those should definitely not be shared since Onions are toxic to dogs.
The intoxicating smell of a roasting brisket may overwhelm your pup, but this is one dish that should not be shared. Briskets can have too much fat for pups’ sensitive stomachs, and they are usually cooked in a marinade and over vegetables like onions that dogs can’t eat.
Yes: Plain chicken breast
No: Skin, cooked bones, dark meat, or gravy
If your Hanukkah table includes a roast chicken, it might be okay to share. Offer your dog some white meat with no gravy or seasoning on it. Remember to keep them away from cooked bones as they can splinter easily, causing injuries.
Yes: Bone broth with no garlic or onions
No: Matzoh balls and broth with garlic or onions
Matzoh ball soup is not pet friendly due to the onions and matzoh meal ingredients. However, you can make a pet-friendly bone broth for your dog to enjoy during the meal. Some carrots from the soup-making process and fresh parsley can add lots of flavor for your pet to enjoy.
Since Hanukkah is a holiday all about the miracle of the oil, it’s no surprise that fried foods are the star of the show. These fried doughnuts are not meant to be shared with pups. The fat and sugar content is too high.
Chocolate gelt coins given to children at Hanukkah may be delicious for us, but they can be very harmful to our pups.
Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even death. Gelt and other holiday candies may contain Xylitol, a sweetener that’s toxic to dogs. And remember, just about any sugary treat can cause nasty tummy troubles in dogs, so it’s best to keep them away from your pup altogether.
Yes: Plain roasted yam or sweet potato
No: Yams with spices or sauces
Roasted yams are a great treat to share with your pup. Avoid adding any spices or sweet glazes to their share, and you’re good to go. You also want to avoid sharing the skin and/or any raw pieces of yam.
Ari notes, “This delicious dessert is a holiday favorite for many families during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. But while sweet potatoes are a healthy and nutritious treat for your pup, the pie filling is usually made with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices that can be harmful to your dog.
So, if you’re baking up a sweet potato pie this holiday season, make sure to keep it away from your pup. Instead, you can share some plain, roasted sweet potato. They’ll love it, and you won’t have to worry about them getting sick. You can even share canned sweet potato with your pup, as long as the only ingredient is sweet potato (no added sugar or spices).
Yes: Plain bananas
No: Banana peels, banana fritters, or bananas with sugary sauces or glazes
Bananas are fine to share with your pup as long as they’re plain. Avoid sharing any banana fritters or banana desserts with your pup. Battering and frying bananas or adding sugar and spices makes these treats off-limits.
Dishes featuring curry are popular at Kwanzaa tables. These spices are not good for dogs and should be avoided. Offering a piece of plain fish (a dog-friendly variety) is much safer than anything slathered in a delicious (for humans) curry sauce.
Jambalaya is another dish that you should avoid sharing with your dog. It contains spices as well as onions and garlic, which aren’t safe for pups. If you want to offer a pet-safe treat while the family chows down, consider some plain white rice with steamed or roasted vegetables.
While these tasty treats may be something you look forward to all year, it’s best to avoid sharing these with your pup. They don’t need the flour, butter, or any of the delicious spreads and sauces you may be using the bread to sop up.
If you got exhausted just reading these lists, we have another solution for you! Ollie’s Turkey recipe is the perfect holiday treat. You can forget about the table scraps and offer your dog something that was prepared especially for them.
In addition to gently cooked human-grade turkey breast and liver, we add superfoods like kale, blueberries, and pumpkin to make a well-balanced and nutritionally complete meal. These ingredients contain antioxidants to keep inflammation at bay and plenty of fiber to support healthy digestion. Our lean proteins and perfect portions will help keep your pup energized and at a healthy weight.
Since we offer 2-day shipping, it’s not too late to have some on your doorstep for this holiday season. Tell us about your pup, and we’ll figure out the perfect meal plan for them. You can then have the perfect portions sent straight to your door. Our meals aren’t just for the holidays! They last up to 6 months if you keep them frozen. Once thawed and opened, your pet should enjoy it within four days.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com
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