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 which they can’t have, you may be cautious about just scraping your leftovers into their dish. 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
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 which they don’t usually eat, and for dogs, this is a guarantee of stomach upset.
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) and limit the gravy if given at all.
Also, avoid cross-contamination. This is why it is best to prepare your dogs meal separately – you don’t want to accidentally give them leeks, potato 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. 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.
Lean parts of the white meat are fine. Dark meat can be too rich. Avoid giving them chicken or turkey skin, and especially avoid bones.
While you may be able to take the meat off the turkey leg, dogs will try to just gobble everything up. Their teeth and jaws are stronger, so they’d likely be able to break the bone. The old phrase “give a dog a bone” came from old habits, after all.
But cooked bones can splinter and damage a dog’s digestive tract. If you want to give your dog a bone it needs to be raw, but even then there is no guarantee it will be problem-free.
Carrot & Swede
These two veg 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 them a little bit.
Plain boiled carrots are also fine, as long as there are no glazes or extras. The same applies to 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 cauliflower and broccoli are fine in small amounts, again with the stem and leaves removed. Avoid any in cheese sauce.
Plain boiled potatoes are okay. This is often the best way, especially if you would normally add butter, cream and salt to mash, or roast them, so leave one or two small ones aside post-boiling.
They should never eat raw potato and things such as chips or even hash browns for 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 ingredients like grape, raisin or currants. Plain cranberries are actually quite bitter, so dogs will usually avoid. 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.
Christmas Foods Which Your Dog Needs To Avoid
Anything sweet should be avoided. Things such as raisins in mince pies or Christmas puddings, or chocolate, are actually toxic for dogs.
Food containing alcohol is the same, as is the 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 to be sure.
Fatty meats are also on the list of what to avoid. So, while your dogs may like a tiny bit of sausage or bacon when training, avoid giving them pigs in blankets as part of their meal.
At the end of your 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, 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!