Safe & Unsafe Christmas Food for Dogs & Cats

Dog and cat in front of a Christmas dinner table to represent a cat Christmas dinner and dog Christmas dinner
Christmas Food to Avoid for Dogs & Cats [INFOGRAPHIC]

Christmas is a season of joy and togetherness, and it's only natural to want to include our furry companions in the festive celebrations. Yet, not all holiday foods are safe for dogs and cats. 

This comprehensive guide highlights the safe and unsafe Christmas food for dogs and cats, a handy reference when preparing a cat or dog Christmas dinner — or when sharing food from the table.

What’s in This Guide? 

General Guidelines: Preparing a Cat Christmas Dinner or Dog Christmas Dinner

Before we begin, here are a few general guidelines for preparing a Christmas dinner for dogs and cats:

1. Try to Avoid Sharing Food From The Table

While the desire to share Christmas treats directly from our plates with dogs and cats is understandable, it's not always advisable. Certain holiday foods may contain high-fat content, pose a choking hazard, or include harmful spices or ingredients (e.g. garlic, onions, raisins, xylitol)— all potential triggers for adverse reactions in dogs and cats. 

It's crucial to exercise caution and choose safe Christmas foods for sharing with dogs and cats.

2. Prepare Separate Holiday Treats or Toppers for Dogs & Cats

One of the best ways to include furry friends in holiday festivities is to prepare their own dog Christmas dinner or cat Christmas dinner. Holiday pet treats can be made from scratch using pet-friendly ingredients or used as holiday-themed pet food toppers. 

Either way, it would be best to use NO ADDED SPICES when making holiday-themed pet treats.

3. Cats Will More Likely Eat Veggies in Pureed Form

During Christmas festivities, it's essential to understand the dietary needs of dogs and cats. Dogs, being omnivores, can derive nutrients from both animal protein and certain dog-friendly fruits and vegetables. In contrast, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their bodies are best suited for digesting animal protein.

Despite these differences, properly prepared vegetables can offer benefits to both dogs and cats. However, cats may be less inclined to enjoy vegetables if they are only cooked and diced.

For pet parents aiming to incorporate a bit of fiber from vegetables into their cats' diets this Christmas, it's advisable to puree cooked, unseasoned, cat-friendly vegetables to enhance their appeal for feline friends.

A cat eating cat Christmas dinner from a bowl with cat-friendly pureed veggies as pet food toppings

What Can My Dog or Cat Eat for Christmas Dinner?

Curious about festive treats for your dog or cat this Christmas? Explore the best people food for dogs and cats for the holidays. These can be served as standalone treats or pet food toppers for the holidays.

Incorporating these foods as pet food toppers gives your furry friend a dose of holiday cheer while still ensuring they receive essential nutrients from your selected AAFCO-compliant dog or cat food!

Note: As a reminder, it is recommended that treats only comprise 10 percent of your dog’s or cat’s intake for the day.

1. Cooked, Unseasoned Turkey or Chicken

Serve your pets a safe and protein-rich Christmas treat by offering them plain, cooked turkey, or chicken without any seasoning.  Both turkey and chicken are low in fat and high in protein. This means that in the absence of food allergies to chicken or turkey, these types of meat are healthy additions to a dog Christmas dinner or cat Christmas dinner. Just remember to remove all bones to prevent choking.

2. Cooked, Unseasoned Beef

Do you have a pup or kitty that is allergic to chicken or turkey? If so, beef is a great alternative Christmas treat or pet food topper! Beef is packed with protein and nutrients, making it a healthy treat when prepared right. Before serving beef for your furry friend this Christmas, make sure that the meat is completely cooked and all the bones are removed.   

3. Unseasoned Scrambled Eggs

Eggs, a common ingredient in many Christmas recipes, can also be utilized to prepare a small batch of unseasoned scrambled eggs—an enticing treat that both dogs and cats love. Packed with protein, vitamin D, and riboflavin, scrambled eggs make for a nutritious and delicious Christmas pet food topper!

4. Cooked, Unseasoned Pumpkin

A classic in traditional Christmas feasts, pumpkin also serves as a delightful treat or pet food topper for dogs and cats. When cooked and unseasoned, pumpkin becomes a fantastic source of fiber, promoting healthy digestion for both furry friends. Additionally, pumpkin is abundant in beta-carotene, which is great for maintaining a pet’s healthy vision, coat, and bones.

Cooked, unseasoned, pureed pumpkin, a pet-friendly food topper for a cat Christmas dinner or dog Christmas dinner

5. Cooked Unseasoned Green Beans

Planning to prepare Christmas casseroles or appetizers featuring green beans? Save a portion for your furry friend. Cooked and unseasoned, green beans serve as an excellent source of fiber and potassium, which are essential for healthy muscles and nerves.

6. Cooked, Unseasoned Sweet Potatoes

Baking sweet potato casserole or sweet potato pie for Christmas dinner? You can set aside a few cooked, unseasoned sweet potatoes as a Christmas treat for your dog or cat. Along with dietary fiber, sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins A and C, great for a fur baby’s overall health.

7. Cooked, Unseasoned Brussel Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a staple in many holiday dinners. Why not save some for your furry friend? Cooked, unseasoned Brussels sprouts are pet-friendly and rich in essential nutrients, including vitamins K and C, as well as fiber. The fiber content supports a pet’s digestive health, while the vitamins contribute to overall well-being for dogs and cats.

8. Fresh, Sliced Apples (for Dogs)

Sliced fresh apples can be a delightful and nutritious Christmas treat for dogs. (Apples are also safe for cats, but a majority of cats do not like it.). Apples are a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. The crunchy texture can also assist in promoting dental health by helping to reduce plaque buildup. Just make sure to remove seeds and cores before offering apple slices to pets.

Sliced apples, a pet-friendly treat for a dog Christmas dinner

Christmas Dinner Food That Are Harmful to Dogs & Cats

Now that we've discussed the festive foods suitable for a dog Christmas dinner or cat Christmas dinner, let's highlight some common holiday ingredients that should be avoided as pet treats.

1. Christmas Ham

Though the aroma of Christmas ham may be enticing, this holiday food is not recommended as a treat for dogs and cats. High in salt and potentially fatty, ham can pose risks to both dogs and cats. Excessive salt intake may lead to sodium ion poisoning, causing symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. The high fat content can contribute to acute or chronic pancreatitis, a serious inflammation of the pancreas. Additionally, the seasoning or glazes on ham may contain ingredients, like garlic or onion, which are toxic to pets

2. Mashed Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

Cooked potatoes and sweet potatoes in their most basic form are perfectly safe for pets. However, additional ingredients like salt, cream, butter, etc, make these dishes potentially unsafe for dogs and cats. These ingredients can cause distress to their digestive system and the high fat content in some recipes can also contribute to cat or dog pancreatitis.

3. Gravy

As savory and delicious as gravy is, this dish is not safe for pets. Gravy typically contains toxic ingredients such as onions and garlic. Gravy also has a very high-fat content, which can be harmful to dogs and cats, potentially triggering or aggravating pancreatitis.

4. Green Bean Casserole

Green beans, cooked and unseasoned, are a great snack for pets! However, when we add other ingredients such as butter, onions, and garlic, they are no longer safe. These ingredients can make any dish unsafe for dogs and cats, especially onions and garlic which are toxic to both dogs and cats.

5. Brussel Sprouts

Cooked, unseasoned Brussels sprouts are safe for your dog or cat to enjoy. However, any Brussels sprouts dish containing butter, garlic, onions, and other additives are not safe for dogs and cats. As mentioned above, these ingredients are not safe — high-fat content from butter can trigger pancreatitis while garlic and onions are toxic to pets.

6. Gingerbread Cookies & Other Holiday Sweets

Sharing sweets with pets is definitely tempting. However, it is recommended to keep sweet holiday treats out of reach. High amounts of sugar can upset your dog’s or cat’s digestive system. Furthermore, some baked holiday goods may have raisins, nutmeg, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener), which are toxic to pets.

7. Cheese

Although cheese is a delicious additive to many Christmas dishes, we strongly recommend limiting your dog’s or cat’s intake of dairy products. Too much dairy can cause major distress to their digestive system, especially for pets that are lactose-intolerant.

8. Apple Pie

As mentioned above, fresh apples are a fantastic snack for dogs; these crunchy sweet treats just need to be consumed in moderation due to their sugar content. Apple pie, on the other hand, may cause digestive issues. With all the butter and sugar added into apple pie, this dish is not safe for pets.

Final Thoughts on Holiday Treats for Dogs & Cats

We hope you found this article on safe foods for your dog or cat Christmas dinner helpful. If you have any further questions about pet-friendly people food, check out our articles: 

Top 10 Healthiest Human Foods Dogs Can Eat

The Safest & Healthiest Fruits Dogs Can Eat

Top 10 Healthiest Human Foods Cats Can Eat

If you have further questions and concerns about your dog’s or cat’s health, Sploot Veterinary Care is always here to help! We are a primary and urgent pet care veterinary clinic, open 365 days a year ( with extended vet clinic hours), including holidays like Christmas!

Book an appointment easily online or through the Sploot Vets app. We have convenient vet clinic locations, waiting to give you the most seamless veterinary care yet. 

Till next time, we’re with you every step of the way!