As the air starts to warm up down under, Magpies start swooping, and the smell of jasmine wafts through the air - we all know what time it is.
Arguably the greatest time of the year.
It’s the time of the year for family gatherings, barbies at the beach, a weekend in the garden and hot days spent in Myer shopping for stocking fillers. Ahh, Christmas.
But amidst the crazed last minute shopping and outdoing one’s neighbour with the most OTT Christmas light display, let us not forget about our fluffy besties who eagerly await their share of the holiday cheer.
This article considers how we can safely (but festively, of course) indulge our pooches in Christmas cheer.
We’ll answer Australia’s top questions when it comes to: What can my dog eat at Christmas time?
Backed by vet and nutritionist perspectives, read on as we answer your burning questions.
The Big Burning Question: Can My Dog Eat Christmas Ham? 🍖
🤨 Our advice? Avoid where it’s in your control.
Look, it’s not going to kill them. But vets warm against even giving a TASTE of Chrissy ham to your pooch.
It’s very high in sodium
Sodium. The thing that makes everything taste so.darn.good. Including Christmas ham. Christmas ham is really really high in sodium, a chemical that dog’s tolerate far less than us humans.
Dogs can eat salt, but they require a lot less of it before it has negative effects.
Excessive salt ingestion can pose dangerous health risks to your dog. Mostly, dehydration. If it gets bad enough, severe dehydration can lead to visible lethargy, confusion, and other detrimental neurological effects as a result of brain swelling.
Especially at this hot time of the year, where your dog is even more prone to dehydration. It’s just no good.
It’ll give them a taste for it, making it harder and harder to deny them in the future
Because it’s so damn tasty, your dog is more likely to ‘scoff’ this food, without properly chewing and digesting. This could be a problem, says University of Sydney veterinary Professor Paul McGreevy.
"Ham is one of the tasty meats and is more likely to inspire scoffing … this response can cause an increased risk of gastric torsion or twisted stomach …
What's a twisted stomach? You may ask. Scientifically known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is a serious condition and is fatal if left untreated. Commonly referred to as "bloat," GDV occurs when a dog's stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid and subsequently twists. GDV develops without warning and can progress quickly. It is always an emergency.
A dog with a twisted stomach will lead to a Christmas day trip to the vet. And we don’t even want to IMAGINE about what that’s gonna cost ya…🥵
It’s Hard to Portion Control at This Time of the Year
It’s not like giving your pooch a morsel of ham is necessarily going to stop there, is it? Nan’s surely in the kitchen feeding him tidbits, or there’s a baby around lunging food into his or her eagerly awaiting mouth.
The point is, it’s a treat that can get very very out of hand, especially at this time of year. So avoid starting, if you can.
A Common Question: Can My Dog Eat Christmas Cake? 🍰
Our Advice: No way
In terms of DO NOT FEED, Christmas cake is pretty much top of the naughty list.
Christmas Cake Contains Raisins
Raisins, as well as grapes, are toxic to dogs. The exact reason for their toxicity has just been understood by the ASPCA Poison Control Centre. Raisins contain tartaric acid, which is what is toxic to them. Ingesting raisins or grapes can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, and increased thirst and urination. In more severe cases, it can lead to kidney failure, which can be life-threatening.
There's no good news here. The effects of raisin and grape consumption varies from dog to dog, so there's no amount that is safe to give them. In essence, it could be just one that harms your dog.
Additionally, cooking and drying these ingredients makes no difference to the level of tartaric acid in them. So no, not even after being boiled, baked or soaked will this food be safe for dog consumption, sorry bud.
Christmas Cake Contains Sultanas
Sultanas, like raisins and grapes, are toxic to dogs. Sultanas are dried grapes, and they can have similar harmful effects on dogs' health. Ingesting sultanas can lead to a range of symptoms.
Christmas Cake Contains Currants
You know the drill. Similarly to sultanas, grapes and raisins, currants are toxic to dogs.
On That Note: Can My Dog Eat Christmas Pudding?🍮
Our Advice: 100% Not
Similarly to Christmas cake, Christmas pudding will likely contain dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas and/or currants.
Avoid feeding your dog Christmas pudding that contains dried fruit, as these are highly toxic foods for dogs. They can lead to kidney failure, which is lethal.
A Valid One: Can My Dog Eat Christmas Turkey? 🦃
Our Advice: Yep, but be mindful of a couple of things..
All in all, dogs can eat turkey. Turkey is a great protein for dogs, because it’s a very lean meat. Now we’re guessing your Christmas Turkey isn’t plain, unseasoned and unboned. So here are a couple of factors to consider before feeding your dog your whole Christmas Turkey dinner:
- Ensure the skin is off. If you’ve seasoned your turkey, don’t feed the seasoned bits to your dog. Seasonings and spices can upset their stomachs.
- Don’t feed them bones. Cooked bones are very dangerous to dogs due to their brittle nature. They will splinter upon consumption. This is dangerous travelling down your dog’s oesophagus and into their digestive tract and could result in an emergency trip to the vet.
- No garlic or onion. Cooked garlic is toxic to dogs, whilst both raw and cooked onion is toxic to dogs. If your turkey contains these ingredients, avoid feeding it to your dog.
A Random One: Can My Dog Eat Christmas Mince Pies? 🥧
Our Advice: Nope.
Like Christmas pudding and cake, fruit mince pies are stuffed with dried fruits. Toxic to dogs - a big no no. Avoid feeding to your bestie, no matter how much they pull out those puppy dog eyes.
Can My Dog Eat Gravy? 🤔
Our Advice: Not unless you want to give them pancreatitis..
What makes gravy so good? Fats! Drippings! Pan juices! Your dog has a waaaaay more sensitive digestive system than you do, and their pancreas (the thing that helps them digest food) could be OVERLOADED by pouring liquid drippings all over their food. When this happens, they develop pancreatitis. This is an incredibly painful condition which commonly effects dogs with poor, overly fatty diets.
In addition to the high fat content of most gravy's, it's also generally very high in sodium (we’ve discussed this), and highly likely to contain garlic and onion (we’ve also talked about this).
Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Alternative Recommendations For Christmas Dog Treats
Instead of running the gauntlet and caving to those puppy eyes, why not be stocked with some pup gut-friendly treatos?
Having these on hand, ensures your pup isn’t missing out, it’s something festive for granny to dish out to them, and you won’t end up with a sick dog or a late night trip to the emergency vet. No Christmas pud is worth that (sorry Ma).
Dog Christmas Treats
- Huds and Toke have the cutest selection of dog christmas treats. All handmade in Australia! They’ve even got dog christmas biccies in red and green…
- If you’re looking to splurge, try Golden Barkery. Seriously chic dog christmas treats. The perfect stocking filler.
- Laila and Me have a healthy and wholesome range of dog treats. Keep an eye out for their yearly dog advent calendar, it sells out every year…
Now you've got your dog's diet for the Christmas season sorted, it's time to get them accessorised. 💅🏻 Head over to our Christmas collection and have a shop for your fluffy bestie.