The Christmas foods that you can share with your dog — and the ones to avoid at all costs

It's natural to want to be able to give your dog a treat at Christmas, but you need to be very careful about what to give them. Canine nutritionist Alison Frost shares her advice on what will and won't be okay.

Mince pies, turkey and cranberry sauce, cashew nuts and satsumas… and, of course, endless boxes of Quality Street and Celebrations. Food and Christmas are more or less inseparable these days. And while there’s nothing wrong with the traditional mid-winter feasting that’s been going on for millennia, it means we have to be careful with our dogs.

‘In many ways, we celebrate Christmas through the foods we eat — meaning many dog owners don’t want their furry friends to miss out,’ says Alison Frost, a canine nutritional advisor for ProDog Raw dog food.

‘However, whilst there are some foods dogs can enjoy with us, there are some snacks they most definitely shouldn’t be eating,’ adds Alison, who has 20 years’ experience in working with dogs.

We’ve asked Alison to run through some of the festive foods that are most likely to adorn you Christmas table to give her opinion on whether or not your dog will be okay.

Chocolate — NO

We’ll start with one which all dog owners will surely already know. ‘Almost all of us know that chocolate is toxic for dogs; it contains a substance called theobromine which makes it potentially deadly for man’s best friend,’ says Alison.

‘It’s important to note that different types of chocolate contain varying amounts of theobromine; the darker and more bitter chocolate is, the more dangerous it is for your dog. Quite simply, keep all chocolates away from them this Christmas.’


‘Any lean bits of left-over turkey, beef, and lamb are fine in moderation,’ Alison says.

‘Just avoid heavily salted meats such as cured ham. Just like humans, dogs need salt in their diets too. However, they have a much lower sodium requirement than us. Table salt is the most dangerous for dogs and because of their lower sodium requirements, negative effects can occur after consuming very small doses. Symptoms of salt toxicity in dogs include vomiting, excessive thirst, lethargy, loss of coordination, and harm to the kidneys.’


‘Most raw bones are safe for dogs, given they’re the right size, but cooked bones become brittle and sharp, meaning they can cause intestinal damage or blockages. Cooked bones should never be given to dogs.’

Mince pies, grapes, raisins and sultanas — NO

‘Grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs, sometimes causing kidney failure. The toxic compounds in grapes are still unknown, but even small amounts can make your dog very unwell. Naturally, that means mince pies, whilst being a beloved Christmas classic, sadly aren’t suitable for man’s best friend.’  If you want them to be able to join you in this seasonal treat, there is a dog-friendly mince pie recipe here.

Cooked vegetables — YES

‘Spare veggies such as broccoli, kale, green beans, and carrots are all healthy additions to dogs’ meals. Generally speaking, vegetables can account for up to 20% of their overall meal. Although, you may want to avoid sprouts if you want to enjoy a pleasant-smelling Christmas day!’

Cooked fat — NO

You might be tempted to let your dog eat the fatty bits which human guests have left to one side — but that’s best avoided. ‘‘Cooked fats, for example turkey and chicken skin or pork crackling, are inflammatory and can increase the risk of pancreatitis in dogs,’ says Alison. ‘It’s unsurprising there are lots of vet visits over the Christmas period; dogs are often fed cooked fats without their owners realising they’re dangerous — or they manage to get into our bins!’

Gravy — NO

‘Salty gravies are particularly dangerous for man’s best friend,’ Alison explains. ‘Many contain wheat flour, salt, wine, and seasonings so they can cause severe tummy upsets. Whilst you might want to give your dog a delicious roast, gravy is a no-go.’


Having a bowl of mixed nuts in the house at Christmas is very common, and while a few unsalted, unseasoned peanuts or cashews nuts will do no harm, they’re too high in fat to make a regular treat — best to steer clear. Also, macadamia nuts are extremely harmful to dogs. ‘Only a small handful can cause toxicity in small and medium sized dogs,’ says Alison. Symptoms can include weakness, an inability to walk, vomiting, tremors, and hypothermia; safest to keep them out of reach.

Bone broths — YES

‘Homemade bone broths from left over Christmas turkeys are great options for dogs,’ says Alison. ‘Place your turkey carcass into a crock pot, fill it with water, add a dessert spoon of apple cider vinegar, and simmer for 8-10 hours to make a nutritional broth for both you and your dog. Then, cool in the fridge and skim off any fat residing on the top.

‘Your resulting broth will be filled with minerals and nutrients, taste great, promote a healthy gut, help to improve joint health, and keep your dog hydrated.’