Decadent savory foods and sweet treats abound during the holidays, and your pet likely wants to be included in the feast. Our Creature Comforts Veterinary Service team explains which holiday treats are naughty and which holiday treats are nice for your four-legged friend.

Naughty pet treat: Turkey leg

Many people think turkey legs are a great treat for their pet, but the brittle bones can splinter easily, causing injury to your pet’s mouth or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. 

Nice pet treat: Plain white turkey meat

Skinless, boneless, unseasoned white turkey meat is a much better alternative to the turkey leg. Ensure the meat is fully cooked and only offer a small amount to help prevent your pet from suffering GI upset.

Naughty pet treat: Buttered mashed potatoes

Holiday mashed potatoes often contain such ingredients as heavy cream, butter, and cream cheese. These high-fat foods can trigger a painful and potentially life-threatening condition called pancreatitis in your pet. Signs include vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, and fever.

Nice pet treat: Unseasoned mashed sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent dietary fiber source, which helps the digestive system function more effectively. In addition, they are low in fat and contain calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B6, and C, which provide excellent nutritional benefits for your four-legged friend. When serving sweet potatoes to your pet, keep the portions small, cook the potatoes thoroughly, remove the skin, and don’t add seasonings, oil, or butter. 

Naughty pet treat: Green bean casserole

Green bean casserole is a holiday feast staple, but the dish is high in fat, which can cause pancreatitis in pets. In addition, onions typically are used to season the dish, and Allium vegetables, including onions, shallots, chives, leeks, and garlic, are toxic to pets. They damage red blood cells, which can lead to anemia. Signs include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart and respiratory rate, pale mucous membranes, and red-tinged urine.

Nice pet treat: Plain green beans

Raw, steamed, and canned green beans are excellent treats for your four-legged friend. They are a high-fiber, low-calorie snack that provides protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, B6, C, and K. When feeding your pet canned green beans, avoid products with added salt, and don’t use oils, spices, garlic, or onions when cooking the vegetables. 

Naughty pet treat: Chocolate

Chocolate in any form is toxic to pets, but baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the most dangerous. The chemicals in chocolate, such as theobromine and caffeine, act as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and smooth muscle relaxer. Pets can’t metabolize these ingredients in the same way people can, which makes them more sensitive to their effects. The most common chocolate toxicity signs are vomiting, diarrhea, panting, restlessness, and increased thirst and urination. In severe cases, signs can include muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure.

Nice pet treat: Peanut butter

If your pet has a sweet tooth, peanut butter, which is rich in protein and natural fats, is a good option. Choose unsalted or pet-specific peanut butter that is low in sugar and other additives. In addition, ensure the peanut butter is xylitol free. This sugar substitute is extremely toxic to pets and can cause a dose-dependent insulin release, leading to hypoglycemia. In addition, some pets can develop liver failure. Only feed your pet small amounts of peanut butter to prevent them from potentially developing obesity and pancreatitis.

Naughty pet treat: Pumpkin pie

Many people don’t think their holiday is complete without a slice or two of pumpkin pie, but don’t share it with your four-legged family member. This sweet treat is loaded with salt and sugar, and also may contain nutmeg, which is toxic to pets.

Nice pet treat: Plain pumpkin puree

Plain canned pumpkin is a nutritious treat for your pet that promotes digestive health. You can feed it to them alone or use it as a meal topper. Ensure you buy plain pumpkin puree as opposed to pumpkin pie filling, which contains sugar, salt, nutmeg, and other potentially harmful ingredients.

Naughty pet treat: Corn on the cob

Corn cobs are fun for pets because they can eat the delicious corn kernels, and when they’re finished, they have a fun new chew toy. However, if your pet ingests the corn cob, it can cause a GI blockage that likely will require surgery to remove. 

Nice pet treat: Corn off the cob

If your pet is a corn lover, treat them with unsalted canned corn or remove the kernels from the cob before offering them a portion. Ensure the dish has no butter or seasonings. 

Nice food-free pet treats

While food is a big focus during the holidays, you also can treat your pet in non-food related ways. Options include:

  • Finding a new walking route and letting your pet sniff away.
  • Spending extra cuddle time with your pet.
  • Giving your pet a thorough grooming session.
  • Teaching your pet a fun new trick.
  • Outfitting your four-legged friend with a festive holiday-themed collar or bandana.

The best treat you can give your pet is a healthy 2024, so contact our Creature Comforts Veterinary Service team to schedule your furry pal’s annual wellness visit.