Monday, December 5, 2022

Holiday Eating: Healthy vs NOT!

Holiday List Item #1: Review Holiday Things that Safe/Harmful for Dogs

It’s easy to find multiple lists of what is healthy for dogs and what is not. So there are a few things I like to ask myself, when looking at these lists. 

First and foremost, what is the source of the list? Who made it? And let me preface this post, with saying out right, I’m not an expert! I’m not a Vet or qualified pet nutritionist. I’m a dog trainer who deals mostly with behavior and canine emotions. As a dog owner, what my dog eats is very important to me and finding foods my dogs love is equally important.

Second is what does the source of the list have to gain from putting the list out? Veterinarians are typically hoping to help dog owners make better choices. Pet nutritionists are typically hoping to look at the whole picture of canine nutrition. Dog food companies are typically trying to sell a product. And dog trainers are generally trying to protect dog owners from making mistakes that could harm their dogs.

Third, and I’m not really sure why this is third in the list; perhaps it should be first. What do dogs have to say about specific foods? I think the reason this falls down to the bottom of the things we consider is because it can be extremely challenging trying to figure out how our dogs feel about the foods they are being given to eat. And we know from history that people do not always make the healthiest of choices when it comes to the foods we choose to eat, so it’s easy to think that perhaps our dogs might make poor choices too. 

Previous to WW2, most dogs ate what their people ate, commercial dog foods didn’t exist. When dry kibble first came out, it was designed as a cheap way to feed your dog and not much later became the easy way to feed your dog. Then not too many years later, dry dog food became the standard way to feed your dog. And in this day and age, dry food isn’t necessarily a cheap way to feed our dogs which is leading some people back to the style of raw feeding their dogs. 

This post isn’t about what YOU, as a dog owner, chooses to feed your dog as I feel that is an owner’s choice. But what my goal is, in this post is to help dog owners safely give their dogs more options without getting caught up in the struggle to find what is safe and what is not. If you are planning on feeding a totally raw diet, learning about dietary needs to make sure you are hitting every need in your selection of food is important. However this list is designed for the people who are looking for safe “holiday” or occasional treat items for their dog and therefore is not meant to be used for daily nutritional planning. As we humans know, there is a big difference between what is healthy for us to eat vs what we can allow ourselves to enjoy on special occasions. Also this is not a totally inclusive list, but more common things that we eat during the holidays.

General Rules of Thumb for Safe/Unsafe Foods

Generally SAFE Foods

All meats in general are safe. While skin and fat is safe, it’s high in fat making that unhealthy for most dogs.

Generally uncooked vegetables are safe; carrots, cucumber, celery, green beans, corn.

Tomato & potato is the exception to this rule, ripe and cooked tomatoes and potatoes are safe.

Generally fruits are not loved by most dogs.

Healthy fruits include bananas, blueberries, cranberries, oranges, cantaloupe, mango, peaches, pineapples, watermelon and the fleshy part of apples.

Nuts are generally healthy, but often are too salty; peanuts & cashews.

Dairy is very dependent on the dog, some tolerate it better than others.

Generally UNSAFE Foods

The seasoning we add to meats are generally unsafe as well as uncooked bones.

Common unsafe vegetables include avocado, and broccoli. (Can cause heart and oxygen issues.)

Raw green tomatoes and raw potatoes are unsafe for dogs.

The core, seeds, and pits of many fruits are unsafe; apple cores/seeds, cherry, apricot, & plum pits, etc.

Grapes & Raisins are BAD!

Macadamia, Pistachio & Almonds are not safe.

Small quantities are best, but watch for other spices & ingredients in the dairy that may be unsafe.

Other items to avoid!

Alcoholic Beverages: Dogs can be attracted to the sweetness of alcoholic beverages however, they are generally not safe.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in animals—including dogs—are similar to symptoms in people, including vomiting, breathing problems, coma, and in severe cases, death.

Even small amounts of alcohol can lead to heart arrhythmias, dangerously low blood pressure, or worse.

Chocolate is a commonly known unsafe food, which means no hot cocoa, mocha cappuccino, etc.

Caffeine contains methylxanthines. This can cause potentially fatal diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and irregular heartbeats.

In fact, your dog’s heart may race if he accidentally ingests coffee grounds or consumes any drink that is high in caffeine. This can lead to seizures, tremors, arrhythmias, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms.

Tobacco is a definite NO for dogs!

Sugar-free Goodies

Xylitol is a sweetener found in many human foods, such as sugar-free gum and candy. But in dogs, it can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar that leads to weakness and even seizures. Some dogs may also experience liver failure.

Yeast & Raw Bread/Dough

The raw dough can expand in your dog’s stomach, causing severe pain and even potentially life-threatening torsion or rupture of the stomach.

Spices Are Challenging

The reason I believe spices are so challenging is because some are outright good, some outright bad, and some are dependent on the amount of spice in relation to the size of the dog. For that reason, I won’t go over a ton of spices other than note that salt is one we easily use too much in human foods for our dogs. Traditional holiday spices that we use that are BAD include nutmeg, onion, garlic, chives & leeks.

Holiday Recipes

This year Yooper Paws of Love in partnership with Crazy2Calm Canine Coach Collaborative is putting together a Holiday Cookbook! Please share your best doggie recipes via email to

Check out last year's Yooper Paws Holiday Treat Recipe, Sardine Treats
And here is the 2022 Yooper Paws Holiday Treat Recipe, Salmon Patties

Salmon Patty Meals & Treats


2 Salmon packets

1 Egg

¼ C Cracker Crumbs


Mix up salmon and egg in a bowl, then pour in about half the crumbs, mixing to meatloaf consistency.

Use an oven safe pan (I love cast iron), heat a small amount of oil in the pan.

Form hamburger patties to the appropriate size for your dog or mini patties for treat size and place in warm oil to brown slightly. Place the pan in a 400 degree oven and bake for at least 8 min but until they are the desired texture for your dog.

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