Turning Holiday Leftovers Into Treats for Dogs

Posted by Amy Hempe on

Holiday time is the time of a fridge packed with leftovers. No matter the occasion, there will be containers spilling over with food gone uneaten or unfinished by guests. You look at it with suspicion: those calories look tempting, but you are determined to maintain sanity in some areas of your diet.

            Then as you continue to gaze into your fridge, you hear the footsteps of your best friend who is more than happy to help you out.

dalmation begging for food

            You can definitely share some of your leftovers with your pup, but be careful. Go easy on the foods with loads of salt. Don’t give them anything with large amounts of garlic or onions – those can be toxic to dogs. Trace amounts are OK as are foods that have been next to onions – it’s not an allergic reaction that you need to be concerned with. You also want to avoid giving the dog any of the leftover desserts – share those with your coworkers instead. After all, dogs don’t need extra pounds any more than we do.

            So what can they eat?

  1. Meat – This ought to be obvious. If you have a lot of turkey left over sitting in the fridge, your dog will be thrilled to lighten that load. Your post-holiday days of eating never-ending turkey sandwiches are gone. Chop some of that meat up and serve it up with the kibble. If you want to freeze some for dog dinners in the new year, go right ahead. Turkey is an excellent substitute food when dogs experience tummy or intestinal discomfort. Serve it up with some unsalted rice. Go easy on the skin and the gravy – that’s all fat.
  2. Potatoes – If there are extra baked potatoes, your dog can eat these without any worry. Be careful with the mashed variety if they were prepared with extra rations of butter and salt. A little bit will be OK but those are items that you need to limit. And if there are any chives or onions in them, either pick them out or keep them away altogether for the pups. Chives are from the Allium species which are harmful to dogs.
  3. Vegetables – Sometimes the side dishes get no love. There’s no need to fret since dogs can have the holiday side staples of green beans and sweet potatoes. Both are very healthy for dogs and can help them feel fuller, making them less likely to beg for more food – always a plus!
  4. Canned pumpkin – If you have a few extra cans hanging out, just scoop that pureed goodness out and let your dog have a few tablespoons each night. Pureed pumpkin is fantastic for a dog’s GI tract and allows things to move smoothly. Everybody wins.

On the other hand, no list is complete without me being a slight party pooper and letting you know what to avoid. Keep the following items away from your dogs:

  • Anything with chocolate – many people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. Nothing has changed. Dark or baking chocolate is particularly bad. Just keep it out of their counter-surfing reaching area.
  • Grapes or raisins – Many salads have these added to them. I don’t know why honestly because they just add a weird texture to the dish. My personal taste aside, you’ll come across these and they might end up in a plastic dish in your fridge. They’re healthy for you, so you be a good person and eat them and keep them away from the dog.
  • Turkey bones - These can splinter and if digested, can cause loads of problems to a dog’s intestinal tract. They can also cause intestinal blockages which can potentially be very dangerous.


            Both you and your dog deserve the best possible and least stressful holidays. Taking care of leftovers should be some of the fun. As long as you follow this list and apply basic common sense, you and your dog can spend the season snuggled up on the sofa while watching cheesy holiday movies for years to come.

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