December 03, 2020 3 min read

Many pet owners want to include their companion animals in as much of their lives as possible, and holiday festivities are no exception. With so many good smells coming from household kitchens on the holidays, it’s no wonder why pets follow their human companions around the house, hoping that they drop a little something for the pet to enjoy. As much as pets want to feel like a part of the holiday festivities, pet owners often worry about the potential health implications associated with allowing their companion animal to eat human food. It’s often difficult to be aware of which human foods are pet-friendly and which are not, especially when it comes to once-per-year holiday items.

Fortunately, pet owners do not have to try avoiding sad puppy faces or demanding meows any longer, as several holiday food items are safe for pet consumption. Take a look at these common holiday favorites that double as pet-friendly holiday food items.

Pet Friendly Holiday Food Items

First, there are several things to consider when it comes to feeding companion animals human food, even when the food has been deemed safe for animals to eat.

  • Allergies: Even safe human foods can cause allergic reactions in animals, so exercise caution if you’re unsure about your pet’s food allergy profile.
  • Seasoning: When giving dogs or cats human food, it’s important to consider the spices or seasoning that has been used in food preparation. Several herbs and spices are either irritating or toxic to companion animals. For safety purposes, try to give pets food items that are unspiced and unseasoned.
  • Calories: Portion size is worth considering, even human food is only a once a year treat. Calories do not impact animals the same way they do humans, and a normal portion for a human can easily exceed a pet’s daily caloric recommendation.

Pet Safe Holiday Foods

After considering your pet’s allergies and caloric needs, there are still several holiday food items that dogs and cats can eat. Try offering one or a few of the following items to your pet as a holiday treat.

  • Pumpkin
  • Green beans
  • Carrots (in small servings due to the natural sugar content in carrots)
  • Spinach
  • Corn (off the cob)
  • Bananas (again in small servings due to the sugar content)
  • Seedless melon
  • Eggs (small servings)
  • Peanut butter (small servings, artificial sweetener-free)
  • Salmon
  • Some cheeses (low fat)

Items To Avoid Giving To Pets

While there are plenty of holiday food items that are pet-safe or even healthy for pets in small servings, there are several items that should not be given to pets. While some items may only cause your pet to have an upset stomach, other items can be toxic

Avoid giving your cat or dog:

  • Garlic
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Grapes/Raisins 
  • Onions 
  • Nuts 
  • Seeds
  • Alcohol 
  • Bones or bone fragments
  • Food containing nutmeg
  • Food containing xylitol sweetener

Conditional Pet Friendly Holiday Food Items 

In addition to the dietary conditions mentioned above, there are several holiday food items that can be given to companion animals, though certain precautions need to be taken in order to ensure your pet’s safety.

  • Meat items: Most dogs and cats will handle small, unseasoned meat servings like chicken or turkey without any problem, though it’s important for pet owners to remove the bones and trim the fat from the meat slices before serving them. Many pets require emergency treatment every year due to accidental bone ingestion.

    Bones can splinter and cause severe gastrointestinal injuries in companion animals.

If you plan to have family members or other guests at your home during the holidays, be sure to let them know that your pet is at home and ask them to avoid giving your animal table scraps, or leaving both food and drinks unattended. People often make mistakes regarding what is acceptable to feed an animal, especially when they’re preoccupied with celebrating. While they likely do not mean any harm, the wrong food item, even in small quantities, can be a health hazard.

Additionally, animals don’t know any better when it comes to food that is either being offered to them or left within reach. In order to keep your pet safe, it’s best to exercise caution when it comes to what they’re allowed to ingest. 

By allowing your pet to enjoy small servings of safe human food items, you can let your companion be a part of the holiday festivities while keeping their health in mind. Even a small piece of something special during holiday events can feel like something extravagant.