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Holiday Nutrition for Dogs

Festive Feast Tips & Holiday Treat Recipe

A fresh baked sheet of ginger men cookies

Christmas has always been a big deal in my family. I'm 34, gearing up for my 35th Christmas, and I've loved every single one of them. It's not just about the holiday itself, but the traditions that come with it. Growing up with German heritage, we had our own special ways of celebrating that I'm now passing on to my son.

One thing that's been a constant in all these years? Our dogs. They've always been right there with us, part of our celebrations. That's why, during this time of joy and indulgence, I think it's super important to remember the health of our furry family members.

In this post, I'm going to talk about exactly that – holiday nutrition for dogs. I'll cover what foods to steer clear of, how to keep their diet balanced amidst all the festive treats, and I’ll wrap it up with a simple homemade dog treat recipe that's both safe and enjoyable for them. Let's dive in and make sure this holiday season is as good for our dogs as it is for us!


The Importance of Dog Nutrition During the Holidays

When we think of Christmas, it's often the food that comes to mind first – the roast, the pies, the cookies. And while we're enjoying these holiday treats, it's easy to forget that what's good for us might not be good for our four-legged friends.

During the holidays, our routines can get thrown off, and that includes our dogs' routines too. It's not just the temptation to sneak them an extra treat (or two); there’s also the hustle and bustle of the season that can impact their eating schedule and diet.

Why is this important? Well, dogs thrive on consistency. Keeping their diet as regular as possible during the holidays helps maintain their digestive health, prevents weight gain, and reduces the risk of food-related illnesses. It's also about keeping them safe from foods that might be harmful to them.

In this section, we'll explore why sticking to a familiar diet is key for our pets during the festive season and the steps we can take to ensure they're not just part of the celebration, but they're enjoying it in a healthy way.

As we gather with family and friends to enjoy delicious meals and treats, it’s only natural to want our beloved pets to be part of the festivities. However, it’s essential to remember that our furry companions have unique dietary needs, and sudden changes in their diet can lead to health issues. Here’s why sticking to a familiar diet is key for our pets during this time, along with practical steps to ensure they’re not just part of the celebration but are also enjoying it in a healthy way.

Why Familiarity Matters

Digestive Sensitivity: Our pets’ digestive systems are sensitive. Abrupt changes in their diet can cause gastrointestinal upset, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, or even more severe conditions like pancreatitis. Familiarity provides stability and minimizes stress on their digestive tract.

Avoiding Allergies and Intolerances: Just like humans, pets can have food allergies or intolerances. Introducing new ingredients during the festive season increases the risk of triggering allergic reactions. Sticking to their regular diet reduces this risk.

Maintaining Weight and Health: Overindulgence during celebrations can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Consistency in their diet helps maintain an optimal weight and overall well-being.

Steps to Ensure a Healthy Festive Season for Pets

Stick to Their Usual Food:

Resist the temptation to share holiday treats directly from your plate. Instead, provide your pet with their regular food. If you want to treat them, opt for pet-safe treats or small portions of pet-friendly fruits and vegetables (like carrots or green beans).

Avoid Harmful Foods:

Some festive foods are toxic to pets. Keep them away from chocolate, alcohol, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and anything sweetened with xylitol. These can cause serious health issues.

Mind the Portions:

If you’re hosting a feast, remind guests not to sneak food to your pet. Too much rich food can lead to upset stomachs. Also, ensure your pet’s daily calorie intake remains consistent.

Create a Safe Space: The hustle and bustle of holiday gatherings can overwhelm pets. Set up a quiet, comfortable area where they can retreat if they need a break from the festivities.

Watch for Signs of Discomfort:

Keep an eye out for any signs of distress—vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or changes in behavior. If you notice anything unusual, consult your veterinarian promptly.

Stay Hydrated:

With all the excitement, pets may forget to drink water. Ensure fresh water is always available.

Introduce New Foods Gradually: If you want to introduce a special holiday treat, do it gradually. Mix a small portion with their regular food to avoid sudden dietary changes.

Remember, our pets rely on us to make informed choices for their well-being. By sticking to their familiar diet and taking precautions during the festive season, we can ensure they enjoy the celebrations without compromising their health.


Holiday Foods to Avoid for Dogs

With the holiday season comes a spread of delicious foods, but not all of them are safe for our furry friends. Here's a list of common holiday foods to keep out of reach of your dogs, along with explanations of why they're harmful and some safer alternatives.With the holiday season comes a spread of delicious foods, but not all of them are safe for our furry friends.

Here's a list of common holiday foods to keep out of reach of your dogs, along with explanations of why they're harmful and some safer alternatives:

Chocolate and Caffeine:

As mentioned, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both toxic to dogs. Even a small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and more severe symptoms.

Grapes, Raisins, and Currants:

These can cause kidney failure in dogs. This includes foods like fruitcakes and certain pastries.


This artificial sweetener is found in many sugar-free baked goods, candies, and gum. It can cause a rapid insulin release, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, and liver failure.

Alcohol: Even small amounts of alcohol, including those in desserts and cooking, can be toxic to dogs, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, coma, or even death.

Onions, Garlic, Chives, and Leeks:

These can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage.

Macadamia Nuts and Other Nuts:

Macadamias are particularly toxic, causing weakness, overheating, and vomiting. Other nuts like almonds and walnuts can cause obstructions or pancreatitis due to their high fat content.

Raw Dough and Yeast:

Consuming raw dough can cause gas to accumulate in your dog's digestive system, causing pain and potentially twisting the stomach, which is life-threatening.

Fatty Foods:

Foods high in fat, like ham, bacon, and fatty meat scraps, can cause pancreatitis in dogs.


Cooked bones can splinter and cause choking or severe internal damage.

Dairy Products:

Many dogs are lactose intolerant and can experience digestive upset from dairy products.

Safe Alternatives:

Carrots, Apples, and Blueberries: These are healthy and safe for dogs. Remember to remove apple seeds and cores.

Cooked Lean Meats: Turkey or chicken without bones or skin can be a good treat.

Green Beans and Broccoli:

These vegetables are safe for dogs, but only in small amounts to prevent gastrointestinal upset.

Plain Pumpkin or Sweet Potato:

Great for digestion. Ensure it’s cooked and without any added ingredients.

Rice and Pasta:

Plain, cooked rice or pasta can be a good treat, in moderation.

Always introduce new foods to your dog's diet gradually and in small amounts to prevent any digestive upset. When in doubt, it's best to stick to their regular diet and consult with your veterinarian.



Tips for Keeping Your Dog’s Diet Balanced

The holiday season brings with it a change in routine and an abundance of food, which can easily disrupt our dogs' diets. Maintaining a balanced diet for them during this time is crucial for their health and well-being. Here are some detailed tips to help you do just that:

Consistency in Feeding Routines:

Dogs thrive on routine, and this includes their feeding schedule. Try to feed your dog at the same times every day, even during the busy holiday season. This consistency helps regulate their digestive system and prevents overeating, which can lead to weight gain and digestive issues.

Moderation with Treats and Scraps:

While it’s tempting to share holiday treats with our furry friends, it’s important to do so in moderation. Treats should only make up a small percentage of a dog's daily calorie intake. Overindulgence in rich, unfamiliar foods can lead to stomach upset or more serious health issues.

Healthy Treat Alternatives:

Instead of fatty and sugary human treats, offer healthy alternatives like carrot sticks, apple slices, or small pieces of cooked meats like chicken or turkey (ensure they are boneless and skinless). These treats are not only safer but can also contribute to a balanced diet.

Avoiding Dangerous Foods:

As mentioned earlier, certain holiday foods are toxic to dogs. But even non-toxic foods can be unhealthy if they are high in fat, salt, or spices. Stick to dog-safe foods and avoid giving table scraps that might contain harmful ingredients.

Hydration is Essential:

Ensuring your dog has constant access to fresh, clean water is especially important during the holidays. Excitement, extra activity, and even stress can increase their need for hydration.

Maintaining Exercise Routines:

The holidays can disrupt our routines, but it’s important to maintain regular exercise for your dog. This helps in managing their weight, reducing stress, and keeping them healthy. Regular walks and playtime are essential, even if they need to be adjusted for the holiday schedule.

Monitoring Health Changes:

Pay close attention to any changes in your dog's behavior, appetite, or digestion during the holidays. Changes can be subtle but indicate that their diet might need adjusting, or they could be reacting to a new food.

Professional Advice is Key:

If you have any concerns about your dog's diet or health, or if they ingest something potentially harmful, contacting your veterinarian is always the best course of action. They can provide tailored advice for your dog’s specific dietary needs.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can help ensure that your dog enjoys the holiday season as much as you do, without compromising their health. A balanced diet, consistent routine, and vigilant care are your best tools in keeping your furry family member happy and healthy


Simple Homemade Dog Treat Recipe

One flavor that invariably captures the essence of Christmas and seems to be a hit not just with us but with our dogs as well, is ginger. While I personally prefer using fresh ginger in my recipes, which may require some adjustment in measurements, the recipe I'm about to share is both simple and adaptable. It's easy to make and offers the flexibility to shape these treats into fun, festive designs. Let us dive into this delightful ginger dog treat recipe that's sure to bring some holiday cheer to your four-legged friends.

Simple Ginger Dog Treat Recipe


2 cups Uncooked Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats

1 cup Brown Rice Flour

1 Egg

¼ cup Melted Coconut Oil

½ cup Water

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Ground Ginger


Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a blender or food processor, pulse the oatmeal until it becomes a flour.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix and blend until well combined.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ to ½ inch thickness.

Use a cookie cutter to cut out the dog treats and place them on a non-stick baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Allow the treats to cool to room temperature on a wire rack before serving​​​​.

Benefits of Ginger for Dogs

Digestive Aid: Ginger is widely known for its effectiveness as a digestive aid, helping with stomach upset and nausea in dogs. This can be particularly useful during the holidays when dogs may accidentally ingest unfamiliar foods​​.

Anti-Nausea Properties: The compounds gingerol and shogaol in ginger give it a distinct taste and contribute to speeding up the digestive process, helping to soothe the digestive tract and reduce nausea​​.

Relief from Gas: As a carminative herb, ginger can prevent and expel gas from your dog’s digestive system, which is especially helpful if they have a sensitive stomach​​.

Easing Arthritis Symptoms: Ginger, being a natural anti-inflammatory, can help alleviate symptoms of arthritis in dogs. This can be beneficial for senior dogs or those with joint issues​​.

Cancer-Fighting Properties: Some studies have shown that ginger can slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells in animals and may boost the immune system. While it's not a cure, it can be a supportive dietary addition for dogs undergoing cancer treatment​​.

Reducing Chemotherapy Side Effects: In cases where dogs are undergoing chemotherapy, ginger has been shown to reduce vomiting caused by common chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin​​.

This recipe not only provides a tasty treat for dogs but also incorporates the health benefits of ginger, making it an excellent choice for your holiday-themed blog post.

This delightful recipe is sourced from Spoiled Hounds, a fantastic resource for dog lovers. You can find the original recipe and more details on their website at Spoiled Hounds.


As we wrap up our holiday guide for keeping our dogs healthy and happy, it’s important to remember that the best gift we can give our pets is our attention and care. During this festive season, while we indulge in our holiday traditions and treats, let’s not forget about the dietary needs and well-being of our four-legged family members.


From being mindful of harmful foods to incorporating healthy treats like the ginger dog treat recipe we shared, every small step we take can make a big difference in our pets' lives. Remember, a happy and healthy dog is what truly makes the holiday season special.


Thank you for joining me on this journey to ensure a joyful and safe holiday for our beloved pets. Here’s to a merry and bright season filled with wagging tails and heartwarming moments. Happy Holidays to you and your furry friends

🐾 With heartfelt love, Melissa & Pebbles 🐾


If you've found this guide helpful and are passionate about ensuring a happy, healthy life for your pet, check out our other blog articles!


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