Delicious food is almost synonymous with the holidays. Uncle Paul’s famous fried turkey. Grandma’s sweet potato casserole. Aunt Shirley’s pumpkin pie. The temptations are seemingly endless.
It can also be tempting to share some of these goodies with our four-legged friends. After all, they’re full-fledged members of the family, too, right? And who can resist those adorable puppy dog eyes begging for a scrap of that delicious “people food” you have on your fork.
If your pooch’s puppy eyes are as effective on you as Chilly’s are on me—and you can’t resist giving him just a nibble off your holiday plate—then I offer good news! Many of your favorite foods are safe for dogs, and are actually beneficial to their health.
Here are six safe people foods that are “dog-approved”:
- Baby carrots. Glazed carrots are a traditional part of many holiday tables. Of course, you shouldn’t share this buttery, sugary dish to your dog. But while you’re making it, feel free to share some baby carrots with Fido. They’re great for a dog’s teeth and they’re low in calories and high in fiber and beta carotene/vitamin A.
- Pumpkin. A fabulous source of fiber, pumpkin can be beneficial to a few pet ailments including constipation and diarrhea. Also, most dogs seem to naturally love pumpkin. Adding a tablespoon or two (in proportion to their size) to their regular meal has been known to help keep them regular. It can also help dogs and cats with indigestion or upset stomachs. Pureed pumpkin can be mixed with your pet’s food to help them lose weight as well. Substitute a spoonful of the orange gourd in place of their regular diet.
- Eggs. A necessary ingredient in most baked goods, eggs are a good source of easily digestible protein, riboflavin and selenium, making them a healthy snack. For dogs that are susceptible to an upset stomach, scrambling up an egg can be a great protein boost. Be sure to use cooked whole eggs, as raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency, which can negatively affect a dog’s skin and coat health.
- Green beans. Another popular holiday dinner staple is green bean casserole. When putting yours together, save some green beans for your dog. They’re low in calories, and a good source of plant fiber, vitamins K and C and manganese. Select beans that have no added salt and serve straight from the can or as a frozen treat.
- Apple slices. Planning to make an apple pie for that holiday potluck? Be sure to slice up an apple for your pooch as well. Leave the skin on but take the seeds out—the skin is full of plant chemicals (phytonutrients) that are said to be protective against some cancers in humans. Apple seeds contain cyanide, which is poisonous. Apples are a good source of fiber as well as vitamin A and C, and also help to clean residue off a dog’s teeth, which helps to freshen their breath.
- Sweet potatoes. I don’t even have to tell you that almost every holiday table includes candied sweet potatoes (or yams). If you leave out the “candied” part for your pooch, this simple, healthy and reasonably priced root vegetable is great sliced or dehydrated as a chewy treat for your dog.
Of course, just as with humans, it’s important to keep an eye on your pet’s waistline during the holidays. To compensate for the extra goodies, cut back on other food and/or increase their exercise with a few extra walks or playtimes during the day.
Finally, consult your veterinarian before introducing something new to your dog’s diet and never feed your dog toxic human items such as: chocolate, onions and garlic, grapes and raisins, yeast dough, artificial sweeteners and foods containing xylitol, macadamia nuts, avocados, alcohol or coffee.