Turkey, Ham, Fruitcake? What Can Dogs Eat on Christmas?

what can dogs eat on christmas cat

It is very tempting to sneak your dog food scraps from the table during dinner. We advise against this, first because it teaches them bad begging habits, and second because you may inadvertently feed them something toxic to their delicate systems. This sentiment is extra true on Christmas. Popular Christmas dishes (and decor!) can negatively affect your pup. Everything from severe flatulence to kidney failure is on the table—and let’s keep it there. Hark! Below, a list of what dogs can—and can’t—eat on Christmas.

Note: Be mindful about feeding your dog any food outside of their normal diet as any small change can cause an upset stomach.

Meat: Yes

Obviously, well-cooked meat is totally fine for dogs. They love their protein! Ham, turkey, beef, lamb—these are all OK as long as they are cooked through and haven’t been marinated in toxic ingredients. Was the prime rib cooked with shallots or onions? Don’t feed it to your dog. Did you use rosemary on your turkey? Toss a piece into Oliver’s bowl! Check the ASPCA if you aren’t certain whether or not an herb is poisonous to canines. And avoid pieces that are extra fatty and heavily seasoned. 

Bones: Supervised only

What dad doesn’t love tossing a lamb chop to the family dog on Christmas? It’s a delicious treat for a pup who has been there for us all year! Just be sure to keep a close eye on your dog as he gnaws at it. Bones can break and cut your dog’s gums or harm their throat. Watch them closely.

Fish: Yes

Similar to meat, as long as the fish is cooked through and has not been marinated in or covered with harmful ingredients, it’s OK for dogs to eat. However, be absolutely sure there are no bones hiding in there! Fishbones are tiny and can easily become lodged in a dog’s throat or puncture their stomach. And same goes for seasoning—try to pick a piece that without all that yummy (for humans) spice/herbs.

Bread: Yes

If your dog hasn’t already been diagnosed with gluten or wheat allergies, plain white or wheat bread is safe for them to eat. Make sure dinner rolls are free of poppy seeds, raisins and nuts, all of which are toxic and can cause stomach issues. Sesame seeds are safe for dogs to eat!

Yeast dough: No

Did someone get really into baking bread during quarantine? Don’t let your pup eat any yeast dough. According to the ASPCA, yeast can lead to super painful bloating or stomach twisting, which can become life-threatening. 

Cranberry: Yes

Cranberries on their own are safe for dogs to ingest. In fact, many dog food brands incorporate cranberries into their formulas as they provide health benefits like improved digestion and antioxidants.

Cranberry sauce: No

In general, you’ll notice anything on this list with excessive amounts of sugar is a no-no for canines. Cranberry sauce made from scratch with lots of sugar (and sometimes orange juice) is a big-time no-no.

Pomegranate: Yes, in moderation

Pomegranate is another ingredient often incorporated into dog food formulas. When it comes to eating the fruit or its seeds raw, as long as you deliver it in moderation, it’s OK to feed it to your dog. If your dog ingests a lot of pomegranates, he could experience an upset stomach or vomiting.

Currant: No

Currants are dried berries similar to raisins. They are definitely poisonous to dogs and shouldn’t be fed to them under any circumstances, just like raisins and grapes. Red currants are popular around the holidays due to their bold color, so beware if you try a recipe that includes them.

Nuts: No

Nuts are full of oils that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. If consumed in large quantities, walnuts, pecans and almonds can even lead to pancreatitis. Macadamia nuts have been known to make dogs feel weak and shaky. These symptoms can last a few days and usually show up about 12 hours after ingestion.

Chestnuts: Yes

The exception to the rule! Chestnuts are safe for dogs to eat. Just make sure your pup doesn’t gobble them down too quickly or grab one that is too big to chew—this could result in a choking hazard.

Potatoes: Yes

Potatoes that haven’t been cooked with too much butter, salt, milk or cheese are great foods to feed your dog on Christmas. Tons of human-grade dog food companies incorporate sweet potatoes into their recipes, so you know your pup will gobble it up.

Popcorn: No

In fact, any snack with lots of salt isn’t good for dogs. They can become dehydrated and even develop tremors.

Pineapple (raw): Yes

Raw, fresh pineapple! Go for it.

Pineapple (canned): No

Canned pineapple that has been sitting in a sugary syrup? Skip it.

Cherries: Pitless only

Cherries have pits that are full of cyanide. A few won’t cause harm, but a ton will. Plus, the pit is a choking hazard, especially for small breeds. Again, if you make a beautiful cherry pie, avoid letting your dog get his paws on it (all that sugar!).

Apple: Yes

Apples are terrific snacks for dogs (again, make sure those seeds come out before you toss Oliver a slice). Full of Vitamins A and C and chock full of fiber, an apple may actually be a smart snack to actively incorporate into your dog’s diet.

Apricot: Pitless or dried only

See “cherries” above. It’s basically the same sitch with apricots. Keep in mind, while dried fruit is safe because it’s seedless, it could contain extra sugar. Avoid feeding your dog dried food all the time or in large quantities.

Cinnamon: Yes, but not advised

Did your dog sneak a cinnamon stick off the table and chew it to death? He’ll be fine, but we don’t advise tossing him one for fun. Cinnamon has a way of causing irritation to skin and gums, plus the American Kennel Club says it could lead to indigestion.

Brussels sprouts: Yes, but not advised

Similar to cinnamon, Brussels sprouts are not toxic to dogs, but they can create lots of gas. Not only will your dog be uncomfortable with the bloating, but you’ll also get some nasty whiffs of the results.

Cauliflower: Yes

We have a feeling cauliflower will play a big role at Christmas dinners everywhere this year. It’s a good thing, too, because dogs can eat it. Keep it raw or steamed, though. Not to sound like a broken record, but cauliflower cooked with cheese, onions, chives or certain herbs is off limits.

Leeks, Chives and Onions: No

These three are so delicious to humans and so toxic to dogs—and especially toxic to cats. Ingesting leeks, chives or onions can lead to gastrointestinal problems and, in extreme cases, damage to red blood cells.

Rosemary: Yes

Season your turkey and lamb and cauliflower steaks with as much rosemary as you want!

Pears: Yes

Don’t be afraid to order a box of juicy Harry & David pears this year; your dog can eat them safely as long as you take out the seeds.

Flan, Custard, Cakes and Pies: No

Sugar alert! Too much sugar can cause a canine’s blood sugar to drop dramatically. This can turn into liver damage and even become fatal. If you notice your dog walking around like he’s dizzy or if your dog has a seizure, he may have eaten a high-sugar dessert.

Lily, Holly and Mistletoe: No

We’re not saying you can’t decorate with these plants, we’re just saying maybe consider alternatives. These are very toxic to dogs. Place them high up, out of reach if you insist on including them in your decor.

Poinsettia: Yes, but not advised

Unfortunately, this gorgeous holiday flower is mildly toxic to dogs. However, it’s not nearly as dangerous as the aforementioned plants. You’ll likely get some extra drool, a little vomit and potentially diarrhea.

Chocolate: No

Chocolate contains sugar, cacao and theobromine, a chemical that affects the heart and blood vessels. Cacao seeds also contain methylxanthines, which can increase heart rate, dehydrate animals and cause seizures in dogs. Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate, but it’s wise to keep this away from your pup at all costs, no matter the flavor.

Coffee: No

Caffeine also contains theobromine, ergo do not let your dog lap up spilled coffee or ingest anything with caffeine in it.

Citrus: No

Citric acid has been known to damage the canine nervous system. Fortunately, citric acid is primarily found in the seeds, rinds, stems and leaves of lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges. So, if Oliver eats the flesh of a lemon, he’ll be OK, just a minor tummy ache. But keep him away from the rest.

Grapes and Raisins: No

Big no to grapes and raisins. Ingesting either of these can cause kidney failure in dogs. If possible, avoid having them loose anywhere in the house. A bowl of grapes knocked over? Your dog could go hog wild.

Dairy: Yes, in moderation

While it’s best to avoid milk and cheese, an occasional cube of cheddar isn’t going to harm your dog. However, canines do lack the enzyme that breaks down dairy products (lactose), so eating cheese could lead to a significant upset stomach or diarrhea spell.

Xylitol: No

Finally, avoid this sweetener. Often used in candy and pastries, xylitol could cause liver failure in dogs. Akin to pies and flan, this ingredient messes with a dog’s ability to process insulin. Look out for excessive sleepiness or dizziness. This could mean your dog nabbed something sweet.

26 Ridiculously Cute Presents for Your Pet (All Under $30)

SAshley Headshot PureWow

Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...