By Jennifer Coates, DVM
Do you want to include your favorite furry friend in your holiday celebrations? There are plenty of traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas foods that are perfect for sharing. So, if you want to create a festive meal for your special four-legged companion, here are some safe human foods for dogs you can fill your pup’s holiday dog bowl with.
No Thanksgiving dinner for dogs is complete without turkey. Turkey is a great source of lean protein, and you can even serve your dog some of the same turkey you’ll put on the table, so long as it is baked and isn’t too spicy.
Turkey for dogs makes a great alternative to dog treats when served in small quantities, as this mild meat won’t produce any ill effects in most dogs.
If you decide to give your dog a piece of your turkey, make sure that you choose white meat, and remove large pieces of fat and skin. This keeps the fat content low, which can help avoid an upset tummy or a more severe problem, like pancreatitis. Be sure that your dog doesn’t get ahold of any turkey bones, either. When cooked, they have a tendency to splinter.
If your turkey is too spicy or salty or you have deep fried it, but you still want your pet to get a taste of the holidays, consider Merrick Thanksgiving Day Dinner grain-free canned dog food or a treat like Tylee’s Human-Grade turkey jerky.
Pumpkin, when served appropriately, is fantastic for the canine digestive system. Veterinarians often recommend pumpkin for dogs as a way to either ease constipation or help firm up their stool.
However, pumpkin pie isn’t a good treat for your pet. Simple roasted pumpkin or canned pumpkin are just fine. You can set some pumpkin aside if you’re baking your own pumpkin pie, or you can share a little pure canned pumpkin with your pet.
If you’re not planning to bake this year, a pumpkin-based treat like Grandma Lucy's organic pumpkin oven baked dog treats offers a great way for your dog to still enjoy some holiday flavor.
Cranberries are safe for dogs, and they may help support urinary tract health. Plus, cranberries contain lots of healthy antioxidants.
However, raw cranberries may be tough for dogs to digest. Instead, you can give your dog a small amount of cranberry sauce. Because it can be high in sugar, make sure that you serve only a small amount, and be sure that it doesn’t contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is very dangerous for dogs.
If you want to play it safe, Spot Farms Turkey Meatball Recipe with cranberries dog treats and Charlee Bear turkey liver and cranberries dog treats are both made with cranberries and other healthy human foods for dogs.
Green beans served without all the trappings (like salt, seasonings and butter) are great for dogs. They are a low-calorie snack that is high in iron and several other vitamins and minerals that dogs need. Their high-fiber content also helps fill your pup’s belly and keep them full, which may help aid in weight control.
As a treat, you can simply serve your pup unsalted green beans—canned, frozen or fresh. If you want to incorporate green beans into your dog's regular diet, look for a nutritionally complete and balanced dog food like Purina Beyond Turkey and Green Bean Recipe canned dog food.
Carrots are a great source of vitamin A and fiber. In fact, they’re even found as an ingredient in a lot of commercially available dog foods—Purina Bella Natural Bites with real chicken and turkey small breed dry dog food, for example.
The occasional raw baby carrot is a crunchy, healthy treat, but cooked carrots are gentler on your dog’s stomach. You can boil or steam plain, fresh or frozen carrots. Canned carrots are also fine so long as they aren’t packaged with a lot of salt or sugar.
Pups love sweet potatoes! They’re a good source of B vitamins, vitamin A and fiber. In recent years, this veggie has gained popularity with canines across the country and is frequently included in limited ingredient diets like American Journey limited ingredient grain-free turkey and sweet potato recipe dry dog food.
You can also cut up raw sweet potatoes, cook them and serve them in cubes; steam and mash them; or bake or boil them—the possibilities are endless with this versatile veggie. You can even give your dog dried sweet potato treats like Fruitables sweet potato and pecan flavor crunchy dog treats.
Many dogs love the sweet, tart crunch of apples. They’ve got plenty of fiber and antioxidants to make them a healthy treat when given in moderation.
Be sure to cut up any raw apples you offer into appropriately sized pieces. You can even sprinkle them with a little cinnamon, which is safe for dogs in moderation. Fruitables pumpkin and apple flavor crunchy dog treats are another good option for giving your dog a taste of apple, pumpkin and cinnamon.
While you can serve a Thanksgiving dinner for dogs, these are some holiday treats your dog shouldn’t have:
Grapes or raisins
Onions and garlic
High fat items
Any item that contains xylitol
If you’re concerned that your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian immediately.