Many pet owners consider their pet to be ‘one of the family,’ and when it comes to seasonal family gatherings, such as Christmas, more and more people want to include a Christmas dinner for dogs.
However, while sharing the festive spirit with our pets sounds like a good idea, it isn’t all mistletoe and wine for our four-legged friends, as alcohol, mistletoe berries, as well as onions, chocolate and cooked bones can lead to sometimes fatal problems.
“We love our animals so much we sometimes actually poison them with our kindness, simply by feeding them the wrong foods from the table, thinking we are treating them and showing our love, but potentially harming them through the indulgent food that we tuck into at this time of the year,” according to TV vet and ‘pet chef’ Joe Inglis.
“I’ve always been keen on cooking for pets as it’s a great way of keeping them happy and healthy – and giving back a little of the love they show to you. Owners of pets that I treat at the practice know of my passion for food and have asked for advice on what food can be given and which foods to avoid for our canine and feline friends. I’ve been giving out my recipes for Christmas dinners that dog and cat owners can make at home – but which won’t lead to any upset tummies or visits to the vets on Boxing Day!”
Christmas dinner for dogs no-nos:
- Fatty foods like roast potatoes and titbits can cause diarrhoea and pancreatitis.
- Onions and mushrooms are toxic to cats and dogs, and tomatoes and green peppers can cause stomach upsets.
- Meat alone does not make a healthy diet as it is not well balanced in terms of nutrients that our animals need.
- Dogs are omnivores and need vegetables and fruit as well as meat.
- Cats must eat meat and cannot survive on a vegetarian diet.
- Cooked bones are very dangerous to both dogs and cats as they splinter – raw bones are fine and very good for dogs’ teeth.
It isn’t just food that can be harmful to pets at Christmas, Joe described some potentially harmful situations that can lead to vets seeing an increase in pet patients over the Christmas period, including dogs or cats who drink the water from the bottom of the Christmas tree stand, the water is poisonous because of the sap. There have been cats who get hold of the turkey carcass and end up with a bone stuck in their throat, or get injured when playing with the Christmas tree lights and decorations, and dogs who wolf down the entire Christmas pudding and suffer serious bloating and gastro-enteritis, or devour the decorations and require major surgery to remove them from their stomach.
Turkey & trimmings Christmas balls
Here’s a quick and easy recipe for a cracking Christmas dinner for dogs, it is much healthier than feeding scraps from Christmas dinner.
Preparation time – 20 minutes to prepare
Cooking time – 30 minutes alongside your turkey
This makes a couple of good sized portions, suitable for a Labrador-sized dog:
- 250g turkey mince
- A couple of medium potatoes (around 350g) – cut into chunks
- 1 good sized carrot (around 200g) – cut into chunks
- A handful of sprouts (about 250g) – halved
- ½ teaspoon Marmite (or similar yeast extract)
- 1 teaspoon cranberry sauce
- Gravy from your Christmas dinner
Bring to the boil a large pan of water, add the carrots, potatoes and the sprouts which have been halved. Simmer for 15 minutes. Brown the turkey mince and pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 F or gas mark 4) if it’s not already on for your roast turkey.
Roughly mash the vegetables then add the turkey – with any juice in the frying pan – the cranberry sauce – great for urinary health – and stir in the Marmite, a healthy dose of B vitamins and a bit of extra meatiness to the flavour.
When the mixture has cooled, mould into walnut-sized balls and pop into the oven for approximately 30 minutes. When cooled, arrange in the bowl and serve with a little gravy.
If pooch is insistent on taking a seat at the table, PDSA also have a guide on foods that are safe for your dog.
If you liked this post and want more, why not visit our Pets channel.Last modified: June 10, 2021