Whether you’re a Sunday Roast fiend or keep your meat, gravy and spuds purely for the festive period, one question has probably crossed your mind.
Can my dog have a roast dinner?
With a list of foods that they can’t have, you may be cautious about just scraping your leftovers into their food bowl. Supermarkets and pet shops can also sell Christmas dinner-flavoured dog food, but ingredients and quality can be questionable.
So, preparing one ahead of time is probably the best course of action if you want them to join in on the festivities. But what can you put in a doggy Christmas dinner, and what must you avoid?
What to consider before feeding Christmas scraps to dogs
Human food for dogs should purely be seen as a treat. It is high in calories, so they won’t need a meal as large as yours. It can also contain a lot of foods that they don’t usually eat, and for dogs, this is a guarantee of stomach upset.
If you are cooking your dog’s Christmas dinner separately, there are ways to make your food a bit less calorific that can be followed:
- Don’t cook what is for your dog in fat, butter, oils or glazes
- Steer clear of fatty meats (such as pigs in blankets)
- Limit the gravy if given at all
You should try to avoid cross-contamination. This is why it is best to prepare your dogs meal separately – you don’t want to accidentally give them leeks, potatoes or fatty meats when scraping in the leftovers.
Hidden ingredients are also a big issue. You may think everything in that stuffing is safe for your dog, but most will contain small amounts of things such as onion or fruits which they cannot eat – even if not advertised on the packet.
So, only give them fresh plain items which you have prepared yourself, and tell all of your guests not to feed them from the table.
What dogs can eat at Christmas
Yes. Lean parts of the white meat are fine for dogs in small bites.
Dark meat can be too rich. Avoid giving dogs chicken or turkey skin, and especially avoid bones. Even cooked bones can splinter and damage a dog’s digestive tract. Turkey should be unseasoned if given to dogs.
Carrot & Swede
These two vegetables mashed together is a classic Christmas lunch staple. As long as there are no added extras, such as butter, salt, pepper or onion, you can safely give dogs a little bit.
Plain boiled carrots are also fine, as long as there are no glazes or extras. Most dogs will even eat raw carrots. The same applies to plain boiled parsnips, although we know a lot of people pop these in the oven with honey so you may have to go out of your way to make it dog-safe.
You will either avoid these crossing the threshold of your home, or have quite a few leftovers. If so, a few plain, unseasoned boiled sprouts are fine.
They’re actually packed with goodness, too. Rich in fibre and antioxidants, and loaded with vitamins K and C, which are good for a dog’s immune system and bone health.
Although we will say that even a few can cause flatulence for your dog. It may cause you to be put off your Christmas pudding, but won’t be harmful. Stick to 1-3 at a time depending on the size of your dog, remove the hard stem part and outer leaves, and cut in half.
Cauliflower and Broccoli
Plain boiled or steamed cauliflower and broccoli are fine in small amounts, again with the stem and leaves removed. Avoid any in a cheese sauce – they can eat cheese in small amounts, but a sauce is usually quite high in calories. Also, be aware it can cause gas.
Christmas foods that your dog needs to avoid
Only plain boiled potatoes are okay. People normally add butter, cream and salt to mash potatoes, or roast them. Therefore, leaving one or two small ones aside post-boiling if you’re making your dog’s dinner ahead of time is best. Otherwise, avoid.
Dogs should never eat raw potatoes as they contain solanine, and things such as chips or even hash browns from that Boxing Day breakfast should be avoided.
Cranberries are safe in small amounts, but cranberry sauce itself is high in sugar which is bad for dog stomachs and blood sugar levels.
There can also be hidden poisonous ingredients like grapes, raisins or currants. Plain cranberries are actually quite bitter, so dogs will usually avoid them. So, while they’re safer than ready-made sauce, they have no benefit for your dog so it is suggested you just avoid them.
Sage and onion is a big no because of the latter ingredient. Even stuffings with no sign of dangerous ingredients should be avoided because most will contain at least one thing which is risky, whether it be a fruit or nuts.
Pigs in blankets are lovely, but very calorific – especially for dogs. One or two as a treat is fine, but no more.
Anything sweet should be avoided. Things such as raisins in mince pies or Christmas puddings, or chocolate, are actually toxic for dogs.
Dogs can get alcohol poisoning from just one sip of an alcoholic drink, so ensure all beverages are out of their reach over Christmas. Warn any guests, too. Food containing alcohol is the same if you have wine in gravy for instance.
Dogs need to avoid the entire onion family (leeks, garlic and chives are in this). Some foods can contain hidden onion too, such as gravy, bread sauce and stuffing, so avoid these too to be sure.
At the end of the day, while your dog may be able to twig that you’re not cooking an ordinary meal, they won’t be bothered about getting a bit. If you’re really concerned about what to give them, just stick to their ordinary food. At most, a little chipolata as a treat will probably make their day anyway!
Other things, such as a new toy, a long Christmas walk or snooze in front of the fire will probably make them really happy anyway, as will knowing that everyone is around and you’re all having a nice day!