Carole Sandhu is back with a blog post about Festive Food For Dogs. However, unlike most blog posts this time of year that warn about what dogs can’t have, Carole has focused on what they can have!
While your dog may not have a chair at the Christmas dinner table, they can still enjoy a lovely festive meal with their human family. There are, of course, a few foods traditionally eaten at Christmas which are harmful to dogs (see list). However, these tend to be the snack type foods and desserts. To help our dogs to cope with all those delicious smells on Christmas day, it may be a good plan to avoid the snacks and focus on your dog having his/her very own Christmas dinner in place of one of their usual meals.
Overall, the Christmas dinner is a perfectly nutritious selection of foods your dog can enjoy. Firstly, consider how much food you would usually put in your dog’s feeding bowl. To create the same amount, add one third turkey, one third potato and one third vegetables. Just be careful with the amount of vegetables if your dog doesn’t usually have them and add a small amount to avoid stomach upsets.
Turkey is a great choice of meat for all age groups of dogs from puppies to golden oldies as it has a number of health benefits. Turkey is a source of high quality protein which is needed to maintain lean muscle mass, support a healthy immune system and for growth and repair. Having a good quality protein on Christmas day could have other benefits too. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids and turkey is rich in the amino acid Tryptophan which the body uses to make Serotonin. This is sometimes called the Happy Hormone because is it thought to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness. It is also known to have a calming effect so within a busy household on Christmas day a portion of turkey may just help your dog relax into a post dinner nap! Turkey is also rich in iron, zinc, phosphorous and potassium as well as B vitamins. The white meat is the healthier option being lower in fat but the skin should be removed as it is too high in fat for dogs and may have coatings which contain spices and onion powder. The bones should not be given due to the risk of them splintering in the mouth, throat, stomach or intestines.
Dogs usually have some form of carbohydrate in their meal, whether home cooked or commercially prepared so adding in some potatoes will provide a good source. You may like to set aside a portion for your dog before you add anything to it so they are given a healthy low fat version!
Vegetables – The Super Food
Carrots, parsnips, green beans, sprouts, broccoli, peas, spinach and cauliflower are all fine to include in your dog’s Christmas lunch.
Vegetables are rich in fibre and are an excellent source of antioxidants. This is why some of them are also known as Superfoods. Antioxidants have been shown to slow some physiological signs of ageing such as oxidative stress to cells and tissues and to support a healthy immune system. Research studies have shown that carotenoids (found in carrots) and vitamin E can maintain or even improve age-associated decline in immune function in several species including dogs.
Gravy may be high in fat and salt depending on how it is made. To make a healthy version for your dog, take out a portion and dilute down with boiling water. Then add a teaspoon of cranberry sauce (pure with nothing added) for your dog’s very own superfood gravy. Cranberries are rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins so would give that little extra nutrient boost. Don’t give gravy to your dog if you have used onions to flavour it even if the whole onions have been removed.
Christmas Dog Food
Alternatively, if you prefer something ready prepared, a number of pet food manufacturers now make their own versions of Christmas dinners for dogs.
- Lily’s Kitchen has a turkey, goose and duck meal with vegetables.
- Butternut Box can deliver a hand cooked (frozen) Christmas dinner made from fresh meat and vegetables.
- Forthglade do a turkey, cranberry and parsnip complete Christmas meal.
Finally, it’s so important to remember that you are your dog’s advocate on Christmas day and asking visitors not to feed your dog is essential as all those extras can add up to a lot of food! Having a meal to replace his/her own and avoiding snacks will help to ensure your dog eats within their comfort levels and has a happy and healthy Christmas day.
Carole Sandhu – Bio
Founder of the Dog Dietitian, Carole is passionate about dogs and providing high quality, evidence based information on all aspects of nutrition for them. She has over 25 years of experience in Nutrition and holds an Honours Degree in Nutrition, a Master’s Degree in Sport Science and a Certificate in Companion Animal Nutrition (COAPE). She writes the feature article on nutrition for Edition Dog Magazine and works with pet professionals, pet food companies and pet parents. Carole runs two help and advice groups on Facebook: Special Diets for Dogs and Performance Nutrition for Sporting Dogs.
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