Holiday Foods for Pets: Yummy and Safe


What’s Safe and What to Avoid

The holidays are here, and meal planning may be at the top of your preparations list.  With so many holiday traditions connected to food (e.g, ham, turkey, cookies, gingerbread houses, big meals around the table), it’s hard not to share a little with our furry friends.  You may even be planning something special just for them.  To help make things a little easier, here we try to put together a detailed list of safe and unsafe holiday foods for pets. 

Safe Foods:

Green Beans

Our dogs always love the great taste of fresh and crispy green beans. They are high in both fiber and Vitamins C and K. The trick here is to feed them to your dog while you are cooking up your green bean casserole. Your pet will prefer the raw version over the finished product. If your family’s green bean casserole recipe involves onions or mushrooms, it is even more important to not let your dog sample that, because these ingredients are toxic to them.

holiday foods for pets
Dogs Love Raw, Crisp Green Beans

Sweet Potatoes

There are several vegetables that your pets can enjoy with you.  Sweet potatoes are often a doggo favorite.  They are rich in many nutrients, such as Vitamins A and C, fiber, and potassium.  Most dogs will enjoy noshing on raw or dried pieces of sweet potato. However, do not give your dog the canned kind or any that have been baked with marshmallows.  Most marshmallows contain Xylitol, which is toxic for dogs.  Also, pets do not need the additional sugar that is often found in sweet potato casseroles (see more on why, below). 

Want to make a homemade treat for your pup any time of year?  Enjoy this recipe for a DIY Sweet Potato Dog Chew.


Thanksgiving may be in the rearview mirror this year but it’s good to know if your dog can eat turkey or not. Luckily, the meat from this bird is safe for your pets if it is thoroughly cooked. It should also only be shared with Fido without the skin. Of course, never give your dog the bones from the turkey. Bones can splinter easily becoming sharp weapons in your dog’s delicate digestive tract and throat. In order to qualify as a safe holiday food for pets, the turkey meat should be unseasoned.


This classic vegetable is often one of the first foods to make an appearance at the start of the holiday season. Feeding your pets pure fresh pumpkin usually makes them giddy with joy. This holiday food for pets can either be raw or cooked, but it should not contain any added sugar or spices.

That being said, feeding your animals leftover pumpkin that has been outside used as decoration is not advised and could make your pet very ill. 


holiday foods for pets
Keep Servings Small and Fully Cooked

The bread debate lives on; should I or shouldn’t I?  Dogs are not going to get much nutritional value out of bread (just like their owners).  Feeding your pet small servings of white bread or dinner rolls from time to time won’t hurt them.  It won’t help them either.  Bread is a filler food and doesn’t contain any extra nutrients that they are not already getting from their daily dog food diet.  There can be significant health risks, however, from bread dough or not fully cooked bread.  The yeast in many breads, if uncooked, will continue to rise once it enters your pet’s belly.  Read more about bread and your dog here from the American Kennel Club.

Avoid Feeding Your Pets These Foods, Any Time of Year:

Mac and Cheese

If you know anyone lactose intolerant, this will make sense.  This holiday food for pets should be approached with caution. Dogs and cats do not need a daily dose of dairy products – from any type of food.  Even though some sure do love it!  However, some pets, even cats, can become intolerant of dairy products.  This is especially true in older pets.  In these cases, even small amounts of mac and cheese (or any type of dairy) could result in gas, vomiting, and diarrhea.  You know your pet best, if their little bellies can handle it, keep the treat to one small serving.  We also recommend discussing dairy food items with your veterinarian.

Raisins, Grapes and Nuts

Many people know that raisins and grapes are dangerous for dogs.  Many, however, don’t know exactly why that is.  These mini foods pack a detrimental punch to your pet’s kidneys. Avoid them always.  Additionally, what people may not know is that several types of nuts, in particular walnuts, are also very dangerous for pets.  For more information on nuts and pets, reading this article will help.

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Onion

Do you add a little ‘extra’ to your mashed potatoes for flavor?  Unfortunately, ingesting garlic or onion can make a dog very ill. Even the powdered versions can be a problem for your pet’s body.  Did you know that raw potatoes should also be avoided as they contain an element toxic to animals; solanine.  If your pet loves potatoes, be sure that they are fully baked or boiled (and cooled) before serving to your furry friend.  Skip the salt and butter, too, for the best version for your furry friend.

Sugary Treats

As much as we love sugar in all forms — cookies are everywhere this time of year — feeding it to our pets is not a good idea. Dogs do need sugar of some sort. They need carbohydrates which are broken down into sugar and glucose. However, they don’t need it in the form of candy or cookies or pie or cake (you get the picture). Sugar can cause upset stomach, it can be toxic, pets can get cavities, gain unnecessary weight, and it can negatively change their metabolism.

As always, for items that may affect the health and safety of your pet, consult with your veterinarian. 

For more information about this subject or general questions you can contact:

Courie Dennis with Posh Paws Pet Care, LLC
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Or send us a note from our contact page here.