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December 18, 2017

The holidays are time for fun, family and feasting – which is why your pets love it too! Pets are a part of the family, so it’s only natural that they’ll be involved in the Christmas celebrations as well. 

Of course, just like us, pets can overindulge! With all that extra food around (and all those extra people wanting to feed them!), it’s important to know what’s safe for your pet and what isn’t. 

1. Keeping your pet happy and healthy during the holidays  
Many of your family and friends who visit over the festive season may not be familiar with your pet and how he or she should be treated. One of the biggest concerns may be the tendency for people to feed your pets extra tidbits because they think they’re giving them a treat. It’s too easy to think that some animals – especially dogs – can eat anything! Unfortunately, this can be disastrous if your pet is given too much of the wrong foods.  

Another concern is the that sudden influx of new faces, smells and noise in your pet’s environment may be distressing for them. Dogs and cats are especially territorial, and may take fright with all the guests around.

The easiest way to make visits safe for your pet is simply to tell your guests not to feed them. They can give them attention, sure – but leave the feeding to you! If you want your guests and fur babies to be comfortable with each other, you could instead “introduce” your pet to each of the guests as they arrive. Perhaps even encourage your guests to bring a small treat or gift for your pet to help them bond. After all, animals love gifts as much as we do! One idea is to purchase some healthy, safe treats before Christmas and have them on hand for your guest to ‘present’ to your pet when they arrive.  


Make sure your guests know not to feed your fur babies tidbits from the table

2. What can your pet eat?  
 There are lots of treats that you and your pet can share at Christmas. Just make sure they know which of you gets to sit at the table! 

  • Turkey: Cats and dogs will savour small amounts of turkey meat. Remember to remove bones and skin first.  
  • Vegetables: Rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs love vegetables – and so do cats and dogs! Asparagus, carrots, parsnips, zucchini and most green-coloured vegetables may not sound like treats, but they’re safe, healthy and tasty too! Avoid bulb vegetables (onions, garlic, leek) as these are toxic.  
  • Eggs (cooked): Scrambled eggs for breakfast? Share them with your pet! Eggs are an excellent source of protein and other nutrients that will benefit your pet. But hold the salt and seasonings!  
  • Fruit: Bananas, watermelon and blueberries are great in a fruit salad – and safe for pets too! Take care to remove seeds, stones and skin before offering them up. Avoid dried fruits like raisins as these can be dangerous to an animal’s sensitive gut.
Turkey meat is safe and healthy but beware of giving hollow poultry bones that can splinter

3. What can't your pet eat? 

It’s quite likely that your dog or cat will sit near 
the dining table and gaze hopefully at everyone’s plates – which makes it very tempting to feed them! However, an animal’s stomach is quite different from our own. For a comprehensive list of foods not to feed you pet, check out this list from the ASPCA
Here’s a brief rundown of foods that should definitely be avoided: 

  • Poultry bones and skin: Turkey or chicken bones are hollow, and can splinter or catch in a pet’s throat. The skin is fatty, which can hamper digestion and affect their digestive organs. Avoid! 
  • Stuffing and gravy: Tasty as it is, the high salt and fat content of gravy can wreak havoc on a pet’s digestive system.  
  • Desserts: All that refined sugar and fat in Christmas pudding, gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies just isn’t going to do your pet any favours. It’s unlikely they’ll want them anyway!  
  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains a chemical called Theobromine that is toxic to dogs: even small amounts can be fatal. Keep it out of reach! 
  • Other no-nos: Avocado, citrus, caffeine, alcohol, dried fruits, nuts, dairy products, yeast dough and xylitol.  

      4. Stock up on healthy treats 

      To make it easy to have everything you need for your pet over the festive season, consider stocking up on some healthy treats and food ahead of time. You’ll have your pet’s regular food available at all times – which might reduce the risk of them being fed from everyone’s plates! It’s also a great way to make sure you don't find your pantry bare when the stores are closed! You can also add any last-minute Christmas presents for your fur babies – or for other pet families you’ve forgotten to shop for! 

      Take care not to give your pets too much sugar or processed treats. Stick to healthy treats when possible!

      5. Pet-only treats 
      There’s a huge variety of pet treats on the market these days.During your next visit with your vet, ask for 
      recommendations. But keep in mind that not all treats are alike! Some may be loaded with nasties such as artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, or contain high amounts of sugar, salt and fat.   

      When choosing a treat for your pet, look for something that they’ll like but has some health benefits too. Remember - you’ll be doing both your pet and yourself a favour by choosing safe, healthy treats. Nobody wants to spend their holidays rushing to the vet!  

      Keeping your pets healthy this Christmas means knowing what is safe and dangerous to eat


      Bio: Katie Stone is a qualified naturopath and former journalist who now roams the world as a freelance writer. Having grown up on a dairy farm in New Zealand, Katie adores all animals – especially pigs! She is also passionate about natural healthcare for pets and believes good nutrition is as important for animals as it is for humans. 

      *Bernard and Kitty's Waggy Tales articles are for information purposes only and are neither intended as, nor should be substituted for professional advice, or the treatment or diagnosis of any health conditions. Information that is provided in this blog is intended for general knowledge: consult your veterinarian if you have questions about caring for your animal, or about your animal’s health or condition.

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