From a succulent roast with all the trimmings to fruit-laden puddings, chocolates and cake, not to mention nuts, mince pies and seafood. Christmas Day is all about eating.
Dogs are much-loved members of our families and it's hard to resist giving them scraps or even serving a helping into their bowl. While we love to indulge on Christmas Day, our pets must not do the same.
Many of our Christmas standards such as turkey, carrots, beans and brussels sprouts are good for dogs, it's important that dog-owners know which elements of the Christmas meal can be dangerous for their four-legged friends.
Fatty foods or table scraps, such as turkey skin or pan drippings, gravy, bacon or sausages are all no-nos. Too much fat can cause pancreatitis, the swelling of the dog's pancreas which can have long-term consequences. Tip: Choose skinless turkey meat instead of turkey skin or dripping.
THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS DINNER FOR DOGS
turkey, roasted skinless
canned salmon, drained
potatoes, boiled or plain mash
brussels sprouts, boiled
carrot, raw or boiled
peas and beans
1tbsp cranberry sauce
Prepare the ingredients, mix together and place in the dog bowl. For an added treat, core an apple (down the middle and across) and stuff the mixture in to the gaps.
Consult your vet before feeding to any dogs with health issues.
Don't play wishbone with your dog. Bones can perforate the oesophagus, stomach or intestines and cause blockages along the digestive tract.
RAISINS & SULTANAS
Keep your dog away from the Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies as raisins and grapes can cause canine kidney failure. Tip: Swap grapes and raisins for blueberries and dried cranberries and instead of a Christmas pudding.
Chocolate is another big no-no. It contains a chemical called theobromine which dogs can't metabolise as well as humans. It accumulates in dogs' bodies and becomes toxic or even fatal. Tip: Replace chocolate and candy canes with celery and carrot sticks.
Many of us love eating nuts at Christmas but while a little bit of peanut butter is fine for dogs, other nuts such as macadamia or walnuts can be toxic. Err on the side of caution and avoid nuts altogether.
Many dogs are lactose intolerant so the milk in bread sauce can cause stomach upsets. Yogurt and cottage cheese are low in lactose and are good alternatives. In addition they are both excellent sources of calcium, phosphorus and protein. Yogurt with active bacteria can act as a probiotic and is good for the dog's digestive system. Tip: Swap cheese for ricotta or cottage cheese and replace whipped or sour cream with a bit of plain low-fat yogurt.
Onions cause a form of anaemia and should never be fed to dogs. Garlic has similar effects but is much less potent so a tiny amount used for flavouring is OK.
Xylitol is more dangerous than chocolate so don't let your dog get anywhere near chewing gum, store-bought desserts or anything else artificially sweetened with xylitol. It can cause acute and life threatening low blood sugar in dogs as well as liver failure. However, a little natural sugar is not bad for dogs. It occurs naturally in many foods and is necessary for a dog to have energy. If your dog gets too much sugar (from sugary snacks) he will suffer the same symptoms as you when you over-indulge such as dental problems, hyperactivity followed by lethargy, obesity and diabetes.
Keep brandy butter and alcoholic drinks far out of your dog's reach – booze, even in tiny amounts, could do permanent damage or even be deadly.
A low-fat meat, turkey meat (without skin) doesn’t need any special preparation but, depending on the way you cook your bird, you may need to set aside a portion before adding butter, cheese, sugar, onions or other “do not eat” foods. Tip: Rather than gravy, add low-salt bouillon with stock from the giblets to any turkey scraps going into the dog's bowl.
Cooked or tinned salmon is a healthy protein food. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support a dog's immune system and can be beneficial for allergies and improve the condition of your dog's skin and coat. Tip: Choose tinned salmon instead of smoked salmon, which because it's cured and not cooked, can carry a parasite which can cause problems for dogs. The likelihood your dog will become ill from smoked salmon is very slim but it's generally not recommended.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, brussels sprouts and parsnips are all excellent and safe food choices for your dog. If you're giving him leftovers, either rinse away any excess butter and oil or put aside a portion before you dress the veg. Tip: Your dog can eat plain mashed potato with a bit of low-fat yogurt; give him green beans wrapped in a thin slice of carrot and brussels sprouts with a few bacon bits won't hurt.
Dogs can eat cranberries, so you can share a little cranberry sauce but be aware that it's often full of sugar. Many dogs love apples but cut out the core as apple seeds are toxic to dogs. Tip: Apple slices are a great healthy treat for dogs and a perfect substitute for biscuits.