What can dogs eat for Christmas dinner?

Christmas is a time for making magical memories with loved ones. So, since our dogs are part of the family, we want them to join in with the festive fun, too!

Let’s discover Christmas food that’s safe for our dogs, and find out which festive foods are toxic, before exploring ways to keep our canine companions safe this holiday season…

Safe Christmas foods for dogs

If you’re treating your dog to an extra-special dinner on Christmas Day, make sure any meat they eat is lean (not fatty!) and all vegetables are boiled or steamed. 

While preparing your dog’s Christmas dinner, make sure their food hasn’t been cooked using a glaze, oil, salt, butter, milk, seasoning, or flavouring(s).

Here’s some plain food you could include in your dog’s festive meal: 

  • Unsalted, boneless, white turkey meat.
  • Mashed potato.
  • Carrot.
  • Peas.
  • Broccoli.
  • Swede (mashed or chopped).
  • Parsnips.
  • Green beans.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Brussels sprouts (beware of the smelly consequences, though!).

Most cheeses are okay for dogs to eat (if your dog is not lactose intolerant) as part of a balanced diet. Be sure to avoid blue cheeses and slabs with added ingredients that are toxic or dangerous to dogs.  

Please note: You’ll need to be careful about the amount of festive food you give your dog, because too much food (and new types of food) can cause digestive problems. 

To help you limit the risk of food-related health issues this festive season, many well-known dog food brands now create canine-friendly Christmas dinners! 

Most ready-made doggy Christmas dinners are packed with succulent meat and tasty veggies, without compromising on the daily dose of vitamins and minerals your dog needs.

Dangerous Christmas foods for dogs

Unfortunately, lots of the festive treats we love to indulge in are unsafe for our dogs to eat.

Christmas foods your dog can’t eat:

  • Yorkshire pudding.
  • Pigs in blankets.
  • Fatty meat.
  • Christmas pudding.
  • Christmas cake.
  • Mince pies.
  • Chocolate.
  • Bread.
  • Crackers.
  • Crisps.
  • Grapes.
  • Nuts (e.g. macadamia nuts).
  • Dried fruit (e.g. raisins).
  • Sauce (e.g. mint sauce, shop-bought cranberry sauce, shop-bought apple sauce, cheese sauce, etc.).
  • Blue cheese.
  • Cheeses with harmful additions (e.g. fruit, nuts, garlic, onion.). 

There are Christmas leftovers that aren’t safe for your dog either, including: 

  • Meat skin (e.g. turkey or chicken).
  • Meat bones.

Also, your dog won’t be able to eat food that contains:

Can my dog have canine-friendly fizz?

Most fizzy drinks contain additives that are unsuitable for dogs to consume. Your dog may struggle to digest fizzy drinks, too.

Even if a drink’s label suggests it’s ‘safe for dogs’ (e.g. dog beer, dog champagne, dog wine, etc.), flavoured and/or fizzy drinks are unsafe for your canine companion. 

Your dog should always have access to unflavoured, fresh, clean, drinking water.

Can my dog have stuffing?

Although it might be part of your Christmas dinner, your dog shouldn’t eat stuffing. 

As well as containing garlic and onion (which are toxic to dogs), stuffing tends to be made with fats and flavourings that aren’t safe for your canine companion either.

Can my dog have gravy?

It’s generally recommended not to let your dog have ‘gravy jelly’ or gravy made from granules, because it’s very high in salt.

Onion gravy is especially dangerous for dogs – and, since most gravy made for human consumption contains onion or garlic powder, other gravies aren’t suitable for our canine companions either.

If you’d love for your best fur-iend to enjoy some gravy with their Christmas dinner, you should be able to find dog-safe gravy at your local pet shop.

Dog-friendly Christmas treats

Making sure your dog doesn’t miss out on all the festive fun couldn’t be easier!
Some canine companions can’t eat Christmas dinner due to allergies or health problems. So, there could be other Christmassy treats lying around that your dog might be able munch (in very small amounts!): 

  • Raw carrot batons.
  • Celery sticks.
  • Plain, fresh cranberries.
  • Apple slices (cored, without seeds).

Rules for guests

For many of us, Christmas is often a time for family and friends to spend together. However, this could mean there’ll be more people in your house than usual – giving your dog the opportunity to sneak snacks from unsuspecting guests!

Although your canine companion may try to influence guests to share food with them, it’s essential to tell everyone who visits that they’re not to feed your dog. 

Most dogs are highly skilled at getting what they want from the people around them – if this sounds like your dog, then why not have some dog-friendly treats prepared? That way, if your guests struggle to say ‘no’ when your dog asks for food, they’ll have a safe treat to give them instead.

It’s important to remind your guests not to feed your dog too much, though!

If your family and friends find it impossible to keep resisting your dog’s persuasive puppy eyes, perhaps encourage them to direct your dog’s attention away using a super-fun toy. 

Ways to distract your dog during dinner

Puzzle toys can keep your dog entertained, allowing you to enjoy a Christmas dinner free from pleading puppy eyes! By playing with toys that are specially designed to test their problem-solving skills, your dog can unleash their brainpower and exercise natural hunting behaviours at the same time.

Walkies before dinnertime are a great way to use up lots of your dog’s energy, prior to expecting them to sit quietly while you enjoy Christmas dinner. Taking your canine companion for a long walk before dinner is served should shorten the time they spend begging you to share, and increase the stint of their snooze!

Feeding your dog before your Christmas dinner is ready is another helpful way to lessen their need to pester you at the dinner table.

For more ideas to distract your dog, visit our blog to discover delightful DIY Christmas gifts for pets, or find out how to craft tasty pet-friendly treats at home.

What to do if your dog eats something they shouldn’t

In the event your dog eats something they shouldn’t, it’s vital that you contact a vet straight away – even if your dog isn’t showing any symptoms.

Your dog will need urgent medical care if they’ve eaten something toxic or poisonous. But, with the bustle of Christmas, we realise it’s possible for pet parents not to see their dog swipe something they shouldn’t have eaten. 

So, here are the symptoms of toxic ingestion you’ll need to look out for: 

  • Diarrhoea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Lethargy (quieter than usual).
  • Trembling.
  • Drooling.
  • Pale gums.
  • Agitation. 

Serious cases of toxic ingestion could result in life-threatening reactions, including convulsions, kidney failure, and heart problems.

Other Christmassy items your dog might eat that could pose a danger to them include:

  • Christmas tree pine needles.
  • Tinsel.
  • Decorations.
  • Fairy lights.
  • Crackers (and their contents!).
  • Wreaths.
  • Toys.
  • Poisonous plants (e.g. holly, mistletoe, ivy, etc.).

It can take a few days before there’s any suggestion your dog has eaten a non-food item. As well as displaying the above symptoms, other signs to look out for in case your dog has ingested something inedible could be:

  • Choking.
  • Reduced appetite.
  • Constipation. 
  • Hunched back or ‘prayer position’ (rear end in the air due to stomach pain).

Remember: Your dog will need to see a vet if they’ve eaten a non-food item.

To avoid an emergency visit to the vet during the holidays, you could have a chat with the experts over at Joii Pet Care before the big day. Joii can provide plenty of advice on what’s safe to feed your dog this festive season, so your whole family can enjoy a cracking Christmas!

Looking for more dog advice?

Find the information you need as we support you through every step of your journey with your canine companion.