The holidays are here, which means the season of wonderful times with family, friends, and food is upon us. Since our dogs are part of the family, it’s only natural to want to share the festivities (and the food) with them… and we say the more the merrier!
Here at TopDog Health, we believe that food is food. There are so many nutritious “people foods” that are not only great for you, but for your dog as well. With the exception of a handful that are toxic for dogs, there are so many wholesome ingredients that are in abundance during the fall and winter seasons that can benefit your pup’s health and happiness.
Here are our favorite holiday treats (plus a few to avoid) for your dog this holiday season.
This fall essential is a great source of vitamin A and fiber, and is easily digestible – making it a top choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Give them canned or fresh, cooked pumpkin with no added sugars and spices.
These little red berries pack a healthy dose of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Plus, if your pup has problems with urinary tract infections or bladder stones, cranberries may help by of lowering the pH of their urine. Feed them lightly cooked fresh or frozen cranberries. Canned cranberries (whole or jellied) are typically higher in calories, so don’t overdo it.
3. Green Beans
Before you throw all your green beans into the casserole, toss a few raw ones to your pup. Green beans are very high in fiber but low in calories, meaning they’ll fill your dog up without packing on the pounds.
4. Sweet Potatoes
These root veggies are high in fiber, low in fat, and packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Steam or bake them without seasoning to lock in their nutritional value (as opposed to roasting) for a sweet treat your dog will love.
5. Sliced Apples
If you’re slicing apples for a fall pie, place a few in your dog’s bowl to give them a boost of phytonutrients, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Don’t worry about peeling the apples first, but be sure to remove the seeds as they naturally contain cyanide.
6. Turkey (Unseasoned – Read Carefully)
For many families, Thanksgiving is all about the bird. While turkey is a great lean meat rich in nutrients like protein, riboflavin, and phosphorous, it must be served very plain with no seasonings to be good for your pup. Remove any excess fat and skin, and double check for any bones. Be extra careful to feed them only turkey meat and no onions or garlic that may be cooked with your holiday feast.
If you’re chopping up some celery for a winter stew, cut some into bite-size chunks for a crunchy treat your dog will love. Celery is low in calories, making it a great weight-loss treat, and is an excellent source of fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
This tasty herb makes a great garnish for your dog’s dinner. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over their meals for a dose of potassium and calcium. Hint: If your pup’s got some serious doggy breath, this is a great way to freshen it up!
9. Brussels Sprouts
Even if you can’t get your kids to eat their Brussels sprouts, there’s a good chance your dog will love them. Feed them raw, steamed, or baked for a boost of vitamins K and G, folate, fiber, and potassium.
If you’re adding honey to your tea on a chilly winter morning, go ahead and drizzle a little over your dog’s breakfast as well. Honey is a nutritional powerhouse for your pooch, loaded with vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants.
Baby carrots straight out of the bag make a great low-calorie treat, especially for overweight dogs. Carrots are high in fiber and vitamin A, and your pup will love their crunchy texture. As an added bonus, chewing raw carrots also acts as a natural teeth cleaner, helping to remove plaque and debris.
12. Chicken (Unseasoned – Read Carefully)
So many of us love a good roast chicken over the holidays. Your pup is no exception. Slip some unseasoned chicken meat into their regular meals for extra protein, removing any skin, excess fat, and bones. Be extra careful that any onions or garlic the bird was cooked with have been removed.
Dangerous Holiday Foods for Dogs
1. Garlic and Onions
Garlic, onion, leeks, and chives are all part of the Allium family, which are toxic for dogs and can result in a form of anemia caused by the destruction of their red blood cells. If you’re cooking with garlic or onions, make sure your dog can’t get to any leftovers or garbage scraps – it only takes a quarter cup of onion to cause anemia in a 20-pound dog. The rare small dose is probably okay, but if you suspect your dog has had too much, look for signs of weakness, vomiting, and breathing problems, and get them to an animal hospital ASAP.
Most people have heard this one, and it isn’t just an old wives’ tale. The problem in chocolate for dogs is theobromine. The most dangerous types that contain the most theobromine are dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate. A toxic dose can cause vomiting, diarrhea, heart problems, seizures, or even death. The toxic dose is dependent on the weight of your dog, but better safe than sorry. When you’re baking up a holiday storm, be sure to keep the goodies where your pup can’t get them.
This is one you may not have heard of. Xylitol is a relatively new type of sweetener used in a wide range of products such as candy, gum, toothpaste, and sugar-free cookies. When ingested in relatively small amounts, this sweetener can result in low blood sugar, seizures, vomiting, and even liver failure in dogs. Check the packaging on your holiday sweets to double check if they contain xylitol, and keep any that do where your dog can’t reach them.
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but be aware that even just a little bit of wine, beer, liquor, or food with alcohol can be dangerous for your pup. Alcohol has the same effect on a dog’s liver and brain that it has on people, but it takes a lot less to hurt your dog – especially smaller breeds. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, coordination problems, breathing issues, coma, or even death. If you host a holiday party, be sure your pup can’t get to any half-filled wine glasses, beer bottles, etc.
5. Leftover Bones
It may seem natural to want to give a dog a bone, but they can be a choking hazard. Bones can also splinter and block or cause cuts in your dog’s digestive system. So think twice before letting your pup go to town on that turkey leg.