Most pet owners enjoy including their furry family members in holiday festivities, and while you may be tempted to share the delicious treats with your pet, remember that not every holiday goody is safe for them. To help you celebrate the season—and your pet—safely, our Peak City Veterinary Hospital team shares healthy and fun holiday treat ideas.

Treats to avoid giving your pet 

While you have difficulty resisting your pet’s sad eyes looking up at you, pleading for a taste of your festive feast, many classic holiday dishes can be harmful and sometimes toxic to your pet. Avoid giving your pet the following foods:

  • Chocolate — Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are toxic to pets. The severity of the poisoning varies depending on the type and amount of chocolate your pet has consumed and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, seizures, and death in severe cases.
  • Grapes and raisins — While grapes and raisins are a tasty and healthy snack for people, they are extremely toxic to dogs. A small quantity can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and kidney failure. Keep fruitcakes and other desserts that contain raisins stored safely away from your furry companion. 
  • Alcohol — Holiday gatherings often include celebratory beverages, but a small amount of alcohol can cause a wide range of issues for your pet, from disorientation to severe respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Ensure party guests are aware of the dangers and know they must keep their alcoholic drinks out of your pet’s reach.
  • Onions and garlic — Onions and garlic are common ingredients in many holiday dishes, but they can be harmful to your pet, especially if they consume them in large quantities. A compound in these vegetables causes oxidative damage to your pet’s red blood cells and can lead to anemia. Whether the onions and garlic are raw or cooked, or a powdered seasoning, keep them away from your pet. 
  • Bones — While a meat bone might seem like a treat for your dog to gnaw during the holidays, cooked bones can splinter and pose a choking hazard, or cause internal injuries when ingested. 

Healthy treats your pet will love

Help your pet feel included in your holiday feast by giving them special treats that are safe and delicious. The following holiday foods are safe for your pet to enjoy:

  • Plain white turkey — Turkey is often a holiday feast centerpiece, and the good news is that plain, cooked turkey, free from bones, skin, and seasoning, can be a healthy treat for your pet. Turkey is a lean protein source that most dogs and cats enjoy in small portions.
  • Sweet potatoes — Sweet potatoes are a nutritious and delicious holiday treat for your pet. These orange gems are packed with vitamins and fiber. Bake, boil, or mash them without adding butter, salt, or seasonings to give your pet a healthy holiday treat they will love. 
  • Green beans — Green beans are another healthy option for pets to enjoy. They are low in calories and provide essential vitamins and fiber. Steam or boil green beans until they are tender, and offer them to your pet as a tasty and healthy treat.
  • Canned pumpkin — Plain canned pumpkin—not pumpkin pie filling—can be a fantastic treat for your pet. Pumpkin is rich in fiber and can help with digestive issues. Add a spoonful of pumpkin to your pet’s food, or offer it as a standalone treat.
  • Fresh fruit — Fruits, such as apple slices, blueberries, and bananas, are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and they are naturally sweet, making them a yummy treat for your pet. Ensure you core or pit fruits before giving them to your pet. 

Food alternative treats for pets

Treating your pet doesn’t have to involve food. Choose a special toy or experience for your pet to show them how much they mean to you. Consider the following:

  • Puzzle toys — Puzzle toys are designed to stimulate pets’ mental and physical abilities by challenging them to figure out how to access hidden treats or kibble. These toys can provide your pet with hours of entertainment and enrichment.
  • A new bed — Your pet spends much of their day sleeping, so a high-quality, comfortable bed is essential. Giving your pet a new bed is the perfect way to show them you care. 
  • A massage — Help your pet relax during the hectic holidays by giving them a soothing massage. Find a quiet spot, have your pet sit or lie down, and use your fingertips to massage their muscles in a gentle, circular motion. 

The best treat you can give your pet this holiday season is regular preventive care. Schedule your pet’s annual wellness visit with our Peak City Veterinary Hospital team, and ensure you and your furry pal enjoy many more holidays together.