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Christmas dinner with your pets

Make their Christmas Day as special as the rest of the family’s when you stock up and make Christmas dog treats and cat fancies.

Christmas dinner for pets

The whole family has gathered for the day and everyone’s excited, including the family dog (the cat may have found a quiet spot under the bed to avoid the palaver). It’s understandable we want to treat our furry family on Christmas Day, but not everything we eat is great for them.

Want to know what your dog and cat can safely eat at Christmas lunch? Then read on. And perhaps put them outside when people are sitting around the table, so nanna doesn’t feed Duke from her plate when you’re not watching.

dog with treat and chiristmas headband

Can dogs eat Christmas ham?

There are lots of foods and ingredients we think are delicious – dogs and cats included – that are actually harmful to their health and can cause an unexpected trip to the vet over the festive season. 

Dr Michael Yazbeck, veterinary director at Greencross Vets, Campbelltown, Narellan and Wetherill Park, says, “Meats that are high in fat, like delicious roast lamb, ham or pork, can cause gut upset or a more serious disease like pancreatitis.”

There are also foods that are toxic. For instance, grapes, sultanas and raisins, present in cakes, puddings and mince tarts, can cause kidney failure in dogs. Onions and garlic can damage red blood cells in both dogs and cats. Chocolate, coffee, alcohol and sweets containing xylitol can be life-threatening and should always be kept out of reach. Macadamias are also toxic to dogs, while other nuts are often too fatty or salty for our pets.

Dr Yazbeck also lists other treats and food that can cause obstructions, including bones, corn cobs and stone fruits with larger seeds.

What Christmas dinner treats can pets share?

There are still a few leftovers you can give to your pets, as long as it’s in moderation.

“Most lean, cooked meats are fine for pets to consume as long as there are no toxic ingredients used,” says Dr Yazbek. “Carbohydrate sources, such as rice, pasta and potato, or fruits and veggies like apple, carrot, pumpkin, banana and blueberries are also safe to share with pets.”

DIY dog Christmas cookies

While you’re preparing your family’s Christmas Day meal, you can easily create these healthy, homemade dog biscuits – you’ll likely have all the ingredients on hand – for the perfect festive treat.

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine 2/3 cup mashed pumpkin, 1 egg and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Stir in 1 & 1/2 cups wholemeal flour until the mixture is stiff. Sprinkle the countertop with some leftover flour, turn out the dough and roll it out to about 6mm thick. Cut out dough into any shape you like. Place cookies on the baking sheet and cook for 40 minutes. They should be nice and crisp. Turn out onto a rack to cool and store in an airtight container.

Easy treats for your furry friends

Head to the Pet Treat Bars at Coles. At this self-service kiosk, you can choose from all sorts of delicious snacks for dogs, including yoghurt buttons, healthy gut dog biscuits and seasonally appropriate cranberry booster chews. No bar at your local store? Look for The Paw Grocer Freeze Dried Chicken Necks Dog Treats or Woofin Good Peanut Butter Flavour Dog Treat Biscuits.

There are options for kitties too, including Temptations Seafood Medley Flavour Cat TreatsWhiskas Milk Plus Cat Treat and Dine Creamy Treats Chicken Flavour Cat Treat.

My pet's eaten something it shouldn't

If you know your pet has eaten something toxic or has a bone or other obstruction stuck in its throat, you should get them to the vet as soon as possible.

“Equally, if you haven’t caught them in the act, but your pet doesn’t seem quite right, is not eating, is vomiting, has diarrhoea or is showing any other signs that you’re concerned about, a visit to the vet is a must,” says Dr Yazbek. “It’s always good to plan ahead by checking your regular vet’s operating hours over the festive period and identifying your closest veterinary emergency hospital ahead of time, just in case.”