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Christmas Food for Dogs: Do’s and Don’ts for a Safe Holiday

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Overview

It’s nearly time to get cookin’ with your Christmassy canine! No matter what you’ve got planned for your Christmas meal, Wag! has got you covered with the “ultimutt” Christmas food guide for dogs. We’ve taken care to include tips for every pet parent’s palate, including vegetarian and vegan diets.

Scroll on to learn which Christmas foods are safe for dogs and which ones you should avoid — plus some essential safety tips for keeping your mutt comfy during the meal and some yummy Christmas dog treat recipes. Let’s dig in!


Christmas food that’s toxic to dogs

Which Christmas foods are dangerous for pets? Here’s a quick look — read on to learn why you should avoid giving your dog these Christmas foods and ingredients:

  • Turkey skin
  • Cooked bones
  • Gravy
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Shallots
  • Deviled eggs
  • Green bean casserole
  • Stuffing
  • Chocolate
  • Fruitcake
  • Gingerbread cookies
  • Desserts
  • Nuts
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Glazed dishes
  • Jello
  • Alcohol

decorated gingerbread cookies and other christmas desserts in a basket

Let's take a closer look at what makes each of these Christmas foods toxic for dogs.

Turkey skin

While your pup can chow down on cooked, unseasoned turkey meat more or less to their heart’s content, you should avoid feeding Fido any turkey skin. Because it’s so high in fat, it’s hard for dogs to digest and could even lead to serious conditions like pancreatitis. (Not to mention it’s usually seasoned with spices that aren’t safe for dogs.)

Cooked bones

While some raw bones are safe for dogs to gnaw on, cooked bones are a big no-no. Avoid giving your dog small bones, whether they’re raw or cooked. “Small bones can become trapped in the larynx and cause esophageal trauma or even become a foreign body in the stomach," says Dr. Catherine Lee-Smith DVM, former veterinary consultant with Wag!. "Bigger bones aren't such an issue as long as they're not cooked.”

Gravy

Does your mutt go nuts for gravy? Think twice before letting your pup have the savory stuff. Many gravy mixes and recipes include ingredients and seasonings that aren’t safe for dogs, like onion and garlic.

Onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots

Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and other foods in the Allium family contain a compound that destroys red blood cells in dogs. While a dog would need to eat a significant amount to develop serious symptoms (think half an onion), even small amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive issues.

Deviled eggs

A delectable holiday dish that’s especially “pawpular” with Southerners, deviled eggs are one of the many Christmas foods that aren’t safe for dogs. While dogs can eat plain, cooked eggs, deviled eggs often contain toxic extras like salt and onion. (Not to mention they could cause your pup to be a bit gassy!)

Stuffing

When making your pup’s Christmas plate, skip the stuffing. This delicious Christmas classic is chock full of ingredients that are toxic to dogs, like onion, garlic, and salt.

Chocolate

Most pet parents have heard about the dangers of chocolate for dogs. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which can cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and the more dangerous it is for dogs.

That doesn’t mean it’s okay to give your pup milk chocolate, though. Milk chocolate still contains 44 milligrams of theobromine per ounce, which means even small quantities could spell disaster for your doggo. If you want to treat your dog to something sweet, try carob, a dog-friendly alternative to chocolate.

slices of fruitcake on a white plate next to a branch of christmas pine needles

Fruitcake

On the list of divisive Christmas dishes, fruitcake is right up there with Brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce — you either love it or you hate it. No matter which side of the Christmas food camp you fall in, avoid giving your pup this dense dessert. Most fruitcake recipes call for cinnamon, cherries, and other ingredients that are toxic to dogs.

Gingerbread cookies

Whether it’s ginger snaps, gingerbread men, or a full-fledged gingerbread house, your pup can’t partake in this spicy-sweet goodness. Gingerbread cookies call for an assortment of spices that are unsafe for dogs, like cloves and cinnamon. Nutmeg is also a big no-no for dogs — it contains a compound that can cause hallucinations and seizures.

Desserts

Speaking of desserts, we recommend avoid giving your pup any dessert or dish with a lot of added sugar or sweeteners. Many desserts contain a common sweetener called xylitol, which can be deadly to dogs. If you want to treat your pup to a dog-safe Christmas dessert, try giving them a slice of fresh apple, a piece of dog-safe fruit, or a bit of carob, which is a dog-safe alternative to chocolate.

Nuts

Many of the nuts that feature in our favorite holiday dishes — like walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans — can be toxic to dogs and cause digestive issues. Skip the nuts this Christmas and give your dog a small dollop of all-natural peanut butter instead.

Cranberry sauce

While pups can safely eat a small amount of fresh cranberries, it’s best to avoid giving your pup any cranberry sauce. This Christmas dish often contains added sugar and toxic sweeteners like xylitol.

Glazed dishes

That piping hot glazed ham in the center of the table is sure to make your doggo drool — but think twice before carving your hound a hock of their own. While dogs can safely eat unseasoned ham, many festive glaze recipes contain toxic ingredients like cinnamon and cloves.

Jello

Health-conscious pet parents might opt for festive Christmas-colored gelatin instead of a sickly sweet dessert like pie or cake. Although gelatin itself is safe for dogs and allegedly has some health benefits, flavored jello products can cause serious health problems.

For starters, many sweetened jello products contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. They also contain food dye — while this may not cause onset symptoms for your pup, some studies have found a link between food coloring and certain health conditions.

Alcohol

A Christmas tipple is the perfect accompaniment to a hearty holiday meal — just don’t share any Christmassy cocktails with your canine. Even small amounts of alcohol could have dire health consequences for your pup.

Instead of letting your pup have a sip of what’s in your glass, spoil them with some dog “beer” or dog “wine” (yes, that’s a real thing!). Made mostly of water and meat broth, these non-alcoholic drinks for dogs are a “grrreat” way to let your woofer join in the festive fun safely.

a carved christmas ham on a black slate next to cranberries and sea salt sprinkles

Christmas food that’s safe for dogs

Okay, now that you know which Christmas foods to avoid feeding your dog, what can you give them? Here’s a quick look at which Christmas foods are safe for dogs:

  • Dark turkey meat
  • Ham
  • Store-bought mushroom
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggs
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Cranberries
  • Green beans
  • Brown rice
  • Squash
  • Turnips*
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Peas

*Dogs with hypothyroidism or other thyroid disorders shouldn’t eat turnips.

Scroll on to learn why these Christmas foods are safe for dogs, plus some of the health benefits your doggo might enjoy from their holiday feast!

Dark turkey meat

One whiff of that succulent turkey is all the excuse your dog needs to pull the puppy-dog eyes! Turkey meat is safe for dogs as long as it’s served plain, without any skin or seasonings. Dogs can eat the white meat, but dark meat is leaner, which reduces your pup’s chances of packing on the Christmas pounds.

Ham

While you shouldn’t feed your pup any glaze or seasonings, it’s safe to give your holiday hound a small amount of unseasoned ham. It’s chock full of protein, not to mention super tasty for your meat-lovin’ mutt. Don’t let your pup have too much, though, since ham is also high in sodium.

Store-bought mushrooms

Mushrooms are commonly used as a meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan Christmas dishes. Many mushroom varieties are safe for dogs to eat, including portabello, shiitake, baby bella, and white button. Cook the mushrooms in a teaspoon of olive oil before serving, and remember to skip the spices. Never let your dog munch on wild mushrooms, as many poisonous mushrooms look very similar to safe varieties.

Eggplant

Like mushrooms, eggplant is a staple in many meat-free dishes. A small amount of plain, cooked eggplant is safe for dogs to eat, but avoid giving your pup any eggplant that’s been seasoned or cooked with other toxic ingredients. Cut up the cooked eggplant in small pieces before serving to reduce the risk of choking.

Eggs

High in B-complex vitamins and minerals, eggs are a delicious treat for dogs. While you should avoid letting your dog have deviled eggs, it’s perfectly safe to give your pup a small bit of unseasoned cooked egg. Scrambled or boiled eggs are best — fried eggs aren’t as healthy and could upset your pup’s stomach.

Potatoes

Mash ‘em, boil ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew — no matter how you slice them, plain, cooked potatoes are a “furrific” treat for dogs. As always, skip any seasoning or extras, like the cheese and cream found in scalloped potatoes or the garlic and onion in mashed potatoes.

Carrots

It’s “pawfectly” safe for dogs to eat both cooked and raw carrots. Packed with nutritional goodness like vitamins A and K, carrots are a healthy snack for dogs. Just avoid giving your pup any glazed or seasoned carrots, which could cause stomach upset.

a bunch of raw brussels sprouts in a beige bowl

Brussels sprouts

Are Brussels sprouts safe for dogs to eat on Christmas? You bet! As long as they’re served plain and fully cooked. While butter and salt might make this controversial Christmas dish go down a little easier for the humans, seasoned Brussels sprouts could upset your dog’s tummy.

Cranberries

Earlier, we said cranberry sauce is a no-no for your Newfy due to the added sugar content. However, your canine can eat fresh cranberries. (Although, to tell you the truth, we’re not sure they’d want to — cranberries are pretty bitter!)

Green beans

Calcium, folate, and other essential nutrients make green beans a “grrreat” occasional treat for your pup. Be sure to top and tail the green beans before serving, and cook them through for a tastier treat. Avoid giving your dog any green bean casserole or seasoned green beans.

Cauliflower

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you might be planning to use cauliflower in your meat-free Christmas main. Your doggo can safely nibble on a bit of cooked cauliflower, which is packed with nutritional goodness like vitamin C and magnesium. Avoiding feeding your dog cauliflower with cheese sauce or added seasoning.

Brown rice

Often recommended as a bland meal to soothe upset stomachs, cooked brown rice gives your pup a hearty dose of fiber, iron, and protein. Add a bit of unseasoned meat for an extra dose of flavor!

Squash

Many varieties of squash — including yellow, butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash — are safe for dogs to eat, as long as they’re plain and fully cooked. These seasonal root vegetables are full of essential nutrients that promote a healthy digestive system, help improve vision, and more. Avoid giving your dog the skin or seeds of a squash.

Turnips

A staple of Christmas dinners in some areas of the Midwest, turnips are another healthy treat for dogs in moderation. Its antioxidant content can help boost your woofer’s immune system and prevent cell damage. However, if your dog has a thyroid condition, avoid feeding them turnips as they can impair thyroid function.

Peas

English, snap, snow — several pea varieties are safe for pups to eat on Christmas. Packed with zinc and antioxidants, peas are a healthy snack and a common ingredient in many commercial dog foods. As always, stick with plain peas.

yellow lab dog lying under a wooden dining table with christmas decorations in the background

Keeping your dog safe during the festive Christmas feast

Whether you’re preparing for a blowout Christmas celebration with family and friends, or you’re keeping things lowkey with a small supper, keep these Christmas safety tips in mind. (For a closer look, check out our guide to 10 essential Christmas safety tips for pets.)

Train your dog not to beg at the table

Does your doggo like to hang around in the dining room, waiting to sneak a tasty morsel from the table? Work on breaking this bad habit in advance of the big day. Need a helping paw? Check out Wag!’s guide to training your dog not to beg at the table.

Tire out your pup before the feast begins

Christmas dinner typically means lots of buzz and activity from people your pup probably doesn’t see often. Before the guests arrive, give your pup “pawlenty” of exercise.

A quick walk might be enough for some pups, but we recommend really tiring them out with a physically and mentally stimulating activity. Whether it’s a long play session with their favorite puzzle toy or a more sporty activity like an agility training session or treasure hunt, your pup is sure to snooze straight through dinner!

Related: How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need?



Got your paws full cooking Christmas dinner? Book a local dog walker with Wag! to keep your pup comfy over Christmas!


Give your pup a place to relax during dinner

We know that leaving your pup out of the festive feast sounds a little harsh — after all, our pups are part of the family, and they should be able to enjoy Christmas alongside us. Right?

Well, yes. But a meddlesome mutt with a habit of sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong might not exactly make your holiday guests feel at home. On the other paw, all the activity and people could stress out your dog.

That’s why it’s important to give your pup their own space to chill out while the fam breaks bread and makes merry. Whether it’s a cozy crate or a separate room in your home, providing a safe space for Spot will go a long way toward keeping them on their best behavior.

If your dog isn’t crate trained, start the process as soon as you can. For a step-by-step walkthrough, check out our guide on how to train your dog to use a crate.

Discuss your pup’s boundaries with your family members

While you may be tempted to look the other way when Aunt Marge sneaks a piece of Christmas ham to your dog under the table, it’s a good idea to set and enforce boundaries with family members upfront. If you’d prefer your guests refrain from feeding Christmas tidbits to your pup, let them know before the meal to prevent any awkwardness.

This doesn’t just apply to food — you should also let your family know about any places your pup doesn’t like being petted or if they’re not keen on playing with the kids.

Make your pup their own Christmas dish

If your hound has their very own holiday treat, they’ll be less likely to pull the puppy-dog eyes at the table come suppertime. Consider fixing your fur-baby a Christmas plate of their own before seasoning any of your dishes.

red christmas stocking on a wooden table next to holiday lights and christmas tree shaped dog treats

Yummy holiday recipes for dogs

Ready to get cookin’ for your Christmassy canine? Check out our favorite Christmas treat recipes for dogs:


Merry Christmas from Wag!

Here at Wag!, we’re proud pet parents ourselves, and we’re looking forward to a festive holiday season with our fur-babies. We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays!


From Wag! Vet Chat to on-demand walks and training, Wag!’s got your Christmas pet care needs covered. Download the app today to find your fur-baby’s new BFF!



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