Christmas always means a couple of weeks of overindulgence for ourselves and our pets. We gorge ourselves of gravy-soaked spuds and chipolata sausages and eventually find ourselves on the sofa with bulging bellies, feeling sleepy and over-stuffed. It’s all too easy to let our pets eat as much as us and snack on leftover Christmas dinner but this can lead to tummy upsets, weight gain or, in the worst cases, choking. Here’s a handy list of 9 Festive Food Swaps that you can tape to the fridge come Christmas Day.
Swap turkey skin for… Turkey giblets!
It’s always tempting to give your dog or cat a bit of crispy turkey skin as a tasty treat while you tuck into your dinner, but turkey skin is nutritionally void and is likely to be very fatty and salty. It would be far better to cook off the giblets (often included inside the carcass) which are full of vitamins. This will make a healthy but delicious titbit.
Swap smoked salmon for… fish-flavoured treats!
If smoked salmon with blinis is one of your favourite Christmas canapés it may seem like second nature to give your cat or dog some of the fishy trimmings. While cooked, unseasoned salmon can be beneficial to dogs, smoked salmon is soaked in brine as part of the treatment process and is, therefore, loaded with salt which can be rough on a pet’s kidneys. There is also a small risk of a parasitic disease called ‘Salmon Poisoning Disease’ which can be fatal. There are also quite high concentrations of magnesium in salmon which can lead to urinary tract infections in cats. Instead, keep your cupboard stocked with some fishy dog or cat treats to satisfy their seafood craving safely.
Swap gravy for… a wet food!
A rich, meaty gravy might seem like a great way to beef up a pet’s usual kibble for a festive luxury but gravy is a cocktail of hazards for a pet. Between the onions and garlic (both poisonous in concentrated form) and high levels of fat and salt it is not the best food for a pet. Instead consider pouring hot water on kibble to turn it into a flavoursome gravy (wait until it’s cooled before giving it to your pet) or consider a high-quality canned food in a gravy or jelly specially formulated for animals.
Swap fat trimmings for… meat!
Giving trimmed-off fat to your pet is often seen as a way to reduce waste while giving them a little treat but it can lead to weight gain and pancreatitis. It is much better to spare a little lean meat as a special indulgence. Turkey breast is particularly good.
Swap pigs-in-blankets for… turkey and bacon bites!
We all love a bacon-wrapped sausage from time to time, and dogs certainly tend to dribble at the faintest whiff of bacon. The fact is that sausages and bacon are both high in fat and salt which can result into weight gain, pancreatitis, kidney stress and hypertension in pets. Luckily there are treats around which are a little healthier.
Swap mince pies for… pet mince pies!
It’s long been in contention whether refined flour is good for humans, let alone our pets. With ingredients in traditional mince pies including butter, sugar and suet, which are unhealthy for pets, and raisins which are poisonous for dogs, it’s best to keep these well out of the way of enquiring noses. There are plenty of recipes available that contain lean turkey mince and are sugar, wheat and dairy-free so that your pet can have a festive pie that will taste good and do good.
Swap roast potatoes for… mashed sweet potatoes!
White potatoes contain quite a lot of starch, and when they’re roasted they soak up fat and salt. Flavourings like garlic are also harmful. Instead you can whip up a batch of mashed sweet potato which is full of B and C vitamins, making it a delicious, tasty food. Just boil them and give them a squash with a fork. Don’t season them or add anything, they’re fine as they are! You can even bake them plain and scoop them out, but remember to leave them to cool before you feed them to your pet!
Swap Christmas Biscuits for… homemade pet biscuits!
It can be tricky to resist the wide-eyed pleading of a pet if you have a biscuit in your hand, but even a basic biscuit has flour, sugar and butter in it, none of which are very good for animals. That’s without the added dangers of raisins, chocolate or macadamia nuts which are all poisonous. Instead, try making homemade pet biscuits. They’re so quick and easy to make, and your pet will thank you for it! Kept in an airtight container they will last until New Year, unless your pet munches them all.
Swap kedgeree for… rice and eggs!
If your house is anything like mine, a kedgeree on Boxing Day is a must-have for turkey-weary palates and, luckily, a lot of the ingredients are great for pets too. A small amount of rice, boiled egg and unseasoned, cooked white fish will provide a host of health benefits for your pampered pet, just remember that moderation is the key.