10 Best and Worst Holiday Foods for Pets

With the holiday season comes parties, family gatherings and plenty of opportunities to indulge in delicious holiday fare. And since it is the season of giving, it’s hard not to be tempted to share your leftovers with your cat or dog. Although your pet doesn’t need the extra calories, there are some human foods that are safe to give your animal in moderation and some that you should never feed him. Before you prepare your next holiday feast, check out the photo gallery below to make better food choices for your pet. And make sure you talk to your veterinarian before introducing a new food into your pet's diet.

The Best and Worst Holiday Foods for Pets

Roast turkey



It’s hard to ignore a pet begging under the table for a morsel of turkey. Luckily for your dog or cat, you can give him a little bit of this holiday staple as long as you remove the skin (too rich and fattening), remove the bones (they can be choking hazards and can splinter and cause digestive tract issues), and avoid raw or undercooked meat (a potential salmonella risk).

Mashed potatoes


Mashed Potatoes

It’s usually OK to give your animal a small portion of mashed potatoes as long as it doesn’t contain any butter, garlic, cheese, sour cream, bacon drippings or other rich toppings. Better to save all those yummy fixings for yourself (and your guests).

Cooked carrots



Though your delectable glazed carrots are not a good choice for cats and dogs, cooked carrots without any added sugar or salt are safe to give animals. It’s also usually safe to give dogs raw carrots, but they can be a choking hazard for cats.

Gravy in a gravy boat



It may be a delicious sauce for your turkey and mashed potatoes, but most gravies are too rich for your dog or cat. Instead, you can pour a little low-sodium chicken broth over your pet’s food.

Green beans in a colander


Green Beans

The classic holiday casserole topped with crispy fried onions contains too many rich and risky ingredients for pets, but cooked green beans can be a safe, low-calorie treat for both dogs and cats. Raw green beans can also be eaten by dogs but are a choking hazard for cats and should be avoided.

Holiday chocolates



Keep your chocolate Advent calendar and gelt as far away from your pet as possible — chocolate can be life threatening for cats and dogs. As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the riskier it is for your pet. Chocolate contains two ingredients that can be toxic: caffeine and a chemical called theobromine.

Unbaked bread dough


Unbaked Bread Dough

It seems harmless, but unbaked bread dough can cause all sorts of trouble for your pet. If ingested, it can expand in the stomach. If the stomach twists cutting off the blood supply, emergency surgery can be required. Plus, the yeast in the dough can produce alcohol, which can lead to seizures and respiratory failure.

Holiday Food Pet Poisons Wine



Liquid spirits may help you get into the holiday spirit, but it’s never a good idea to give alcohol to your pet. Signs of toxicity can include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma and death.

Hanukkah cookies


Sugar-Free Candy and Baked Goods

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often found in sugar-free gum, candy and mints. If ingested, it causes a sudden release of insulin in a dog’s body, leading to dangerously low blood sugar. It can also cause liver damage. Signs of poisoning, such as vomiting and diarrhea, can occur in less than 15 minutes after accidental ingestion. If left untreated, the condition can be fatal. If you suspect your pet has ingested xylitol, seek veterinary care immediately.

Holiday Food Pet Poisons Macadamia Nuts


Macadamia Nuts

Whether they’re in a bowl, in a cookie or covered in chocolate, macadamia nuts should never be given to pets. Signs of poisoning include depression, weakness, vomiting, tremors, lack of coordination and joint stiffness.

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