An A-Z of festive foods

Are you planning on giving your dog Christmas dinner this year? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.

We recently asked our social media followers if Christmas dinner was on the menu for their pet this year and 30% said yes.

While we don’t recommend you give your dog unfamiliar foods this Christmas, we think it’s important you know which foods are safe for your dog in small amounts and which could cause them serious harm.

But beware even of the “safe” foods on our list. They might not be toxic but small amounts add up and if your dog isn’t used to them then it could make them unwell. Be very careful not to introduce too many new things into their diet or you could end up with a poorly pup on Christmas night.

Dog's Christmas dinner guide

Never

Pork
Bones
Mince pies
Christmas pudding
Blue cheese
Onions/leeks
Garlic
Grapes, raisins, sultanas
Macadamia nuts
Chocolate
Alcohol
Sugar-free foods (xylitol)
Raw potatoes

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Best to avoid

These could contain toxic ingredients like garlic, onion or alcohol

Sauces
Stuffing
Gravy
Cranberry sauce

Safe IN MODERATION

Turkey (without skin)
Chicken (without skin)
Carrot
Peas
Parsnips
Sprouts
Cauliflower
Swede
Boiled/baked potatoes (plain – no butter, cream, salt etc.)

Can dogs eat...

Blue cheese

Blue cheese

No

Blue cheese contains a substance called roquefortine C, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and potentially also tremors, twitching, seizures and a high temperature if your dog eats a large amount. If your dog has eaten blue cheese and displays any of these signs you should contact a vet for advice right away.

Carrots

Carrots

Yes

Carrots are commonly found in lots of dog foods and are considered a healthy, tasty treat as they are a good source of vitamins and fibre. Remember only to offer in small quantities and make sure the carrot is plain. Also make sure they’re an appropriate size so they’re not a choking hazard.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Yes

Dogs can eat a small amount of cauliflower — it’s a good source of vitamins and fibre. But don’t give your dog too much or it could cause flatulence or stomach upset.

Chicken

Chicken

It depends

Cooked chicken is safe for most dogs to eat — as long as it’s plain, skinless and boneless. Chicken skin is too fatty and can give your dog stomach issues while bones can splinter and pierce the intestinal tract.

Chocolate

Chocolate

No

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is poisonous to dogs, affecting the guts, heart, central nervous system, and kidneys. Dark chocolate contains the highest levels of theobromine but milk chocolate is also toxic. If your dog has eaten chocolate and you’re unsure whether they’re in serious danger use our chocolate toxicity calculator to help you find out.

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

No

Christmas pudding contains raisins, sultanas and alcohol, all of which are toxic to dogs and in some cases can be fatal. Always keep the Christmas pudding out of your dog’s reach.

Cooked bones

Cooked bones

No

You might think bones are suitable dog treats, but they can be very dangerous for dogs. Cooked bones can splinter easily and pierce your dog’s digestive tract or cause an obstruction. So, bin the bones and keep them well away from your dog.

Cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce

Not recommended

Cranberry sauce is often laden with sugar which could cause stomach upset and could also contain other ingredients like raisins or xylitol which are poisonous to dogs. The bottom line is it’s not worth the risk.

Garlic

Garlic

No

Garlic is poisonous to dogs and can cause gastrointestinal upset, including nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. In severe cases, it can also lead to anaemia and organ damage. Garlic is a very common ingredient in lots of foods so always take care.

Grapes

Grapes

No

Grapes are poisonous to dogs and the dried varieties (raisins, sultanas and currants) are believed to be particularly toxic. In severe cases, eating grapes can lead to kidney failure and sadly death. It’s not clear exactly which substance or chemical in grapes causes this poisoning and the effect it has on dogs varies widely (some can become very ill after eating just one grape while others are ok after eating a handful). Because of this uncertainty, there isn’t a “safe” amount your dog can eat. Keep grapes out of reach and contact a vet immediately if you suspect they have eaten any.

Gravy

Gravy

Not recommended

Gravy can be very rich and fatty which can cause sickness and diarrhoea in dogs and in severe cases can lead to potentially fatal pancreatitis. Gravy may also contain toxic ingredients like onions, garlic and salt which can cause serious harm. It’s best to save the gravy for the humans and keep it away from the dog.

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts

No

Within 12 hours of eating macadamia nuts dogs can experience weakness, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia. So, keep these locked away. If you suspect your dog has eaten macadamia nuts, take note of how much and contact a vet.

Mince pies

Mince pies

No

Mince pies contain raisins which can be poisonous to dogs. Eating raisins, as well as grapes, sultanas and currants can lead to acute kidney failure and sadly can be fatal. Even a very small amount can cause severe problems in some dogs.

Onions/leeks/shallots

Onions/leeks/shallots

No

Onions, leeks and shallots belong to the same family as garlic and all of these can cause stomach and gut irritation and potentially lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia. All forms of onion are toxic, whether cooked, dried, dehydrated, raw and foods that contain them also pose a risk.

Parsnips

Parsnips

Yes

Boiled parsnips are safe for dogs, but they do contain a lot of sugar so should only ever be given in small amounts. Too much could also cause stomach issues. Make sure they are plain and not mixed with other potentially harmful ingredients.

Peas

Peas

Yes

Peas are a safe and nutritious food for your dog and can be found in many dog foods. Your dog can enjoy a very small portion of plain peas but don’t overdo it or it could lead to stomach problems. Avoid tinned peas as they often contain sodium which is toxic to dogs. Dogs with kidney problems shouldn’t be given peas as they contain purines which can cause further problems.

Pork

Pork

No

Pork products are often very fatty which makes them dangerous for dogs. Eating foods that are high in fat can lead to life threatening pancreatitis in severe cases. The high fat content in sausages and bacon means that the pigs in blankets aren’t safe for your dog.

Potatoes

Potatoes

It depends

Dogs can eat potatoes if they’ve been baked or boiled and are completely plain (with no butter, cream, salt etc.) Potato is an ingredient in some dog foods so it is safe to give your dog some this Christmas, but only offer a small amount or your dog might have difficulty digesting it. Never give your dog raw potatoes as they contain a chemical that is potentially toxic to dogs.

Raisins

Raisins

No

Like grapes, raisins contain a substance which can cause acute kidney failure in dogs and sadly can be fatal. Even a minimal amount can cause severe problems in some dogs. Our vets have seen emergency cases when a very small amount has been eaten but in other cases, a handful may cause no symptoms. There is no “safe” amount your dog can eat so never give them raisins or any foods containing them.

Sprouts

Sprouts

Yes

Brussels sprouts are safe for your dog to eat in moderation. A small amount of boiled sprouts is fine as long as they’re plain, but anything more could lead to flatulence and potentially diarrhoea. They could also be a choking hazard so take care not to drop any on the floor.

Stuffing

Stuffing

No

Stuffing often contains ingredients like onions and garlic that could make your dog extremely unwell. It’s best to completely avoid feeding your dog stuffing and omit the risk altogether.

Swede

Swede

Yes

A small amount of swede is safe for your dog but be careful not to offer too much or it could lead to flatulence and diarrhoea.

Turkey

Turkey

It depends

White turkey meat is safe for dogs to eat and is often found in dog food. But only give a very small amount as introducing a lot of something new into your dog’s diet could result in stomach upset. Turkey skin is too rich for dogs and bones could splinter and pierce their intestinal tract, so neither of these should ever be offered.

Remember, your dog doesn’t need to celebrate Christmas with a large indulgent meal. They’ll be happy just being with you. Playing with them, giving them lots of love and attention and lovely Christmas walks are perfect ways to make your dog’s day.

If you have a pet emergency over the festive period our clinics across the UK are here for you and your pet when your daytime vet is closed. Find your nearest Vets Now clinic here.

If you’d just like some advice, our experienced vets are available to video chat between 8am and 11pm every day.

Find lots more about keeping your dog safe at Christmas on our Christmas hub.