The holiday season is a time of giving, and you naturally want to be generous with all your family and friends, four-legged ones included. While human family members may hope for a perfect pair of earrings or the latest technological tool, your pet has food gifts in mind. Tossing your pet scraps from your holiday plate may seem the easiest way to spoil them, but this “gift” could land them in a hospital ward with pancreatitis, food toxicity, or a gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction.

So, your pet may be drooling over your plate piled high with ham, turkey, and mashed potatoes swimming in gravy, but you must avoid sharing these particular treats with your furry pal. Rather, avoid hazardous holiday treats and safely spoil your four-legged friend with these pet-friendly options.

#1: Turkey treats

Turkey, ham, and other meaty main dishes are often the star of the holiday feast, but they can spell disaster for your furry pal. Spices, seasonings, and glazes can trigger dangerous pancreatitis, anemia, or toxicity, while bone shards can pierce or lodge in your pet’s GI tract. 

Turn turkey from a dangerous to a delicious pet treat by feeding only low-fat white meat from the turkey breast. Remove the skin to reduce fat content, do not add any toxic seasonings (e.g., onions and garlic), and offer small portions for a protein-packed treat.

#2: Festive fruit bites

While cats typically aren’t drawn to sweet fruits, your dog may have a sweet tooth and enjoy snacking on various healthy, juicy, tangy fruits. However, not all fruits are safe for pets, and some can lead to GI irritation or kidney failure, so choose carefully. 

When offering your pet a sampling from the fruit tray, you must avoid grapes, raisins, currants, and citrus fruits and instead feed them small bites of bananas, cored apples, berries, and melons. Be creative and design a Santa with strawberries, bananas, and blueberries, or a tree with kiwi slices and a variety of fruity ornaments. But remember, keep festive fruit portions small, as many fruits are high in sugar and add too many calories to your pet’s diet.

#3: Sweet potato snacks

Buttery mashed potatoes are a staple holiday dish, but once they are loaded with garlic, chives, butter, and gravy, they are no longer pet-healthy. Skip the mashed potatoes and feed sweet potatoes instead. Roast or steam sweet potato chunks to soften them and bring out their natural flavor, and serve them plain—this healthy snack is full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants.

#4: Fresh veggie tray

Vegetables are considered an exceptionally healthy treat for pets, but they must be free from toxic and fattening additions. Green beans, broccoli, carrots, and other veggies should be served to pets fresh, canned, or steamed, with no added butter, salt, pepper, onions, bacon, cheese, brown sugar, or other flavorings that will cause your pet health issues.

#5: Pure pumpkin

You may catch your pet sniffing around the dessert table, but all desserts are paws-off for pets, especially if they contain chocolate, certain spices, or xylitol, which may be a low-calorie option for people but can be deadly to dogs. If ingested, xylitol can cause your dog’s blood sugar to plummet and their liver to fail. Spices like nutmeg and cloves found in pumpkin pie can be toxic to pets, so bypass the dessert table and concoct this healthy pet-friendly dessert—scoop out a spoonful or two of plain canned pumpkin—not pie filling—and top with a dab of low-fat vanilla yogurt.

#6: Stuffed food puzzle

Some pets are sensitive to diet substitutions or changes and can experience a stomach upset. If pet-safe holiday treats make your furry pal ill, you can still spoil your pet with a special snack. Stuff a rubber Kong or food puzzle with your pet’s favorite, sensitive-stomach foods, and let them devour their feast while you enjoy your own.

Pets can get their paws on many unsafe holiday treats, whether or not they have been willingly shared. If your furry pal suffers from poor holiday food choices and develops vomiting, diarrhea, or other illness, give our Parker Center Animal Clinic team a call for help.