While your plate overflows with the many tempting holiday foods, your furry pal is likely at your feet, drooling in anticipation to have a bite. However, if you drop a few morsels under the table to appease those begging eyes, you may cause your four-legged friend to experience serious gastrointestinal (GI) and other health problems. However, you can share your holiday feast with your pet by following our Flora Family Vet tips for making safe food swaps.

Pet-safe food swap #1: Ham for turkey

Your pet would make off with the entire Christmas ham if they could, but even a few pieces of this salty meat could upset their stomach. Ham also has a significant fat content, which can trigger a pancreatitis episode in your pet, especially if they are predisposed to the condition.

Rather than risk making your pet sick, swap brown sugar-glazed ham chunks for turkey, a much healthier alternative. A few small pieces of plain turkey breast make an excellent protein-packed treat for your pet. White meat is leaner than dark meat, so avoid tossing your furry pal a drumstick. When serving your pet turkey, follow these safety tips:

  • Remove skin and bones
  • Avoid seasonings
  • Cook thoroughly

Pet-safe food swap #2: Candied yams for roasted sweet potatoes

Covering any vegetable in sugar, butter, and marshmallows negates its health benefits. In addition, if you top off candied yams with pecans, this sweet dish poses a choking hazard to your furry pal. 

Swap unhealthy dessert-like candied yams with plain sweet potatoes. You can boost this root vegetable’s inherent sweetness by roasting them. This cooking method also softens these root vegetables, making them easier for your pet to chew. Do not give your pet raw, sweet potatoes because they are too hard and pose a choking hazard. When preparing sweet potatoes for your pet, leave out butter, spices, seasonings, and other ingredients, and chop them into bite-size pieces. You can also steam sweet potatoes, but they will not be as flavorful. 

Pet-safe food swap #3: Green bean casserole for canned green beans

Most casseroles are unsafe for pets because they include large quantities of unhealthy, albeit delicious, ingredients. For example, green bean casserole is typically made with cream of mushroom soup, milk, and crispy fried onions. While undoctored green beans are an excellent fiber, iron, and other nutrient source, green bean casserole’s added ingredients make this dish extremely unhealthy for your pet. Condensed soup is high in sodium and fat, while milk can trigger a pet’s lactose intolerance signs. In addition, if your four-legged friend eats onions or other vegetables from the Allium family, such as garlic, shallots, or scallions, they can develop anemia because these ingredients cause red blood cell destruction in pets.

Keep your pet’s green bean portions healthy and safe by skipping additional ingredients. Canned, steamed, or roasted green beans are all delicious and safe to serve to your furry pal, provided they are free from salt, seasonings, and other additions. If you offer canned green beans to your pet, check the label to ensure no salt has been added to this nutrient-packed veggie.

Pet-safe food swap #4: Fruitcake for a fruit tray

Although fruitcake sounds like it should be a relatively healthy treat, this cake is loaded with ingredients that are dangerous for pets. Fruitcake often contains raisins and currants, which can cause your pet to develop kidney disease. Alcohol is also a common fruitcake ingredient, and small amounts can poison your furry pal. Other fruitcake ingredients that are hazardous for pets include nutmeg, sugar, molasses, butter, citrus fruits, and tea. These foods are toxic to pets, and can induce pancreatitis, or cause serious GI distress.

Who knew fruitcake could be so dangerous for pets? Fortunately, fresh fruit is a great alternative. Cut up small bites of apples, berries, melons, or bananas, after removing rinds, peels, and seeds. Do not give your pet grapes, raisins, currants, avocados, or citrus fruits, because these can cause your furry pal to become seriously ill. While fruit makes a healthy pet snack, offer it in moderation because this sweet treat contains natural sugar. 

Pet-safe food swap #5: Pumpkin pie for plain canned pumpkin

All pets deserve dessert, but most desserts that people enjoy indulging are unsafe for cats and dogs. Pumpkin pie is a popular holiday dessert, but nutmeg and cloves are toxic to pets, and the high sugar amount is also unhealthy.

Give your pet a healthy dessert by swapping pumpkin pie for plain canned pumpkin, not pie filling. Top pumpkin with a dollop of plain, low-fat yogurt and watch your four-legged friend enjoy their holiday dessert. However, keep their pumpkin portion small, as this vegetable’s fiber content can alter their digestion.

Pets often want to eat holiday foods that can make them ill. However, by making these pet-safe food swaps, you can share festive foods with your four-legged friend while helping them avoid health issues. If your furry pal gets their paws on unhealthy treats this holiday season, call our Flora Family Vet team.