Holiday Food and Your Dog

Holiday Food and Your Dog

December 13, 2023

You’re busy in the kitchen cooking. Family is arriving, sweet and savory aromas are filling the house, and there’s a good chance your pupper is right at your feet, waiting for that delectable bit of food you’re cooking to “fall” from the counter. It’s pretty typical to give our dogs a taste of what we’re enjoying. They are part of the family, after all!

There's the “typical” list of what we shouldn’t feed our dogs. Chocolate. Grapes. The fluff from inside their favorite stuffed animal… but there are some others that we may not give much thought to, especially around the holidays when we are feeling a little more generous. That being said, we’ve decided to compile a list of some typical holiday foods that may or may not find their way to your dog… and whether or not they should.

1. Turkey, Ham, and Other Meats

Dogs love to eat meat. And for good reason! Dogs are omnivores and need the nutrients consumed from both meat and plants. A bit of white meat from your holiday turkey- as long as it’s unseasoned- is fine for your dog. Plain chicken and beef are also a safe bet. But are there any meats that dogs should avoid?

Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid feeding your dog ham. Store-bought ham has an extremely high sodium content, including sodium-based nitrates. Ham in general also has a higher fat content than alternative proteins such as chicken or beef. While fat is necessary for the diet, excessive amounts can cause severe health issues in your dog, such as pancreatitis.

That being said, the rule of thumb when sharing your main course with the doggos is to avoid seasoned and overly fatty cuts. It’s also important to ensure that no skin or bones have made their way into your dog’s dish.

2. Vegetables

As mentioned, dogs need the nutrients from both meats and plants to have a healthy diet. That being said, most vegetables are safe for your dog as long as they are not heavily seasoned. Check out this article for a comprehensive list of common spices and seasonings that are safe or unsafe for your furry friend.

Okay, since we got the seasonings chat out of the way, let’s talk about the actual vegetables. We mentioned that most of them are safe to consume. But, as with everything, there are some exceptions. Onions, chives, and garlic, for example, should be avoided. These are part of the no-no’s of spices that should never be given to your dog. However, they are classified as vegetables, so we figured we would include them here. These, and any other allium veggies–including leeks and scallions–are toxic for dogs and can actually harm their blood cell count.

3. Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries in and of themselves are not toxic to dogs. With this being the case, a very small amount of cranberry sauce is unlikely to harm your pup. Just keep in mind that the jellied canned stuff has a lot of added sugar, which is not necessarily good for your dog. If your cranberry sauce is homemade, be mindful of the specific ingredients that have been added. 

4. Peppermint

First and foremost, you should be careful that your pesky pup doesn’t get a hold of any candy canes. Not only do they have a high sugar content, but they also pose a choking hazard. The same goes for any other hard candies. As for peppermint flavored stuff, a very tiny bit may not cause harm. However, it is best to keep peppermint away from your pup altogether. Over-ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even liver failure in extreme cases.

5. Sugar Cookies

Who doesn’t love a fresh-baked sugar cookie? And with all that delicious icing on top!? Our team recently held a sugar cookie decorating contest for Thanksgiving, and it was a hit (especially with being able to eat them afterwards)! If your sous-chef happens to stand on four legs, there’s a good chance he or she is gonna want a taste.

Well, your kitchen helper will be happy to know that there is nothing inherently toxic in sugar cookies. However, as with humans, too many sugary treats can affect your dog’s blood sugar levels and ultimately lead to weight issues and diabetes over time.

So, what’s the verdict? Moderation is key!

If you’re not an avid baker and are considering store-bought sugar cookies, avoid ones with the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to our furry friends.

6. Gingerbread

Ginger itself can actually be beneficial for your pup. The main thing to keep in mind with gingerbread, though, is that it contains nutmeg, which is toxic to dogs. Due to the small amount that is used, a little taste is unlikely to hurt your pup. But to play it safe, you may want to avoid giving your dog anything that contains nutmeg.

That being said, gingerbread may be okay for your doggo depending on the recipe. As with other sweets, be careful to avoid overindulgence. 

7. Fruitcake

Umm… Does anyone actually eat fruitcake? It always seems to show up in stores this time of year, so the assumption is that someone does. So, we included it juuust in case you fall into that category. We’re not judging…

According to the ol’ reliable Google, fruitcake contains dried or candied fruits, nuts, and lots of spices. With this being the case, you should avoid giving fruitcake to your pup. The conglomeration of dried fruits often contains raisins, which can cause almost immediate kidney failure in dogs. Furthermore, all dried fruits have a higher concentration of sugar. Since there are numerous pieces of dried fruit throughout even a single slice of fruitcake, it is best to simply avoid it. Anything with a large sugar content can be harmful to your dog, as mentioned earlier. This includes both dried and candied fruits. 

The fact that fruitcake is heavily spiced is also a red flag. As mentioned earlier in regard to vegetables and gingerbread, certain spices can be toxic to dogs. There is such a wide variety of fruitcake recipes, so it’s impossible to say one way or the other if your fruitcake will be canine-friendly. Regardless, the dried and candied fruits are enough to give fruitcake a bad rep for your pup.

Closing Thoughts

With family gatherings and feasting on the horizon, we wanted to help you be safe in sharing food with every member of your family. While a little taste of sugar cookie or cranberry sauce is unlikely to harm your dog (assuming your pupper has no food allergies), there are other food items that can be dangerously toxic and should be kept for the humans. 

So stay safe, be happy, and treat your doggos to something special this year.

- The Bailey n Buddies Team


Have any other foods in mind that didn’t make our list? Feel free to share in the comments!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.