Before Fido starts pawing at your leg and shooting you those irresistible puppy eyes from underneath the dining room table, proceed with caution. Just because there's no chocolate on your plate does not mean you can still share snippets of your holiday meal with your fur baby.
While the holiday season is meant to be spent with friends and family, this does not mean your dog should join you at the dinner table. In fact, there's a heavy list of Christmas-centric human foods that pose a huge threat to your pup's health.
We consulted pet expert Erin Askeland, Certified Behavioral Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed and Certified Professional Dog Trainor-Knowledge Assessed, of Camp Bow Wow on the foods to keep away from your dogs and how to stay strong even when your pet begs.
"This salty meat is not a good choice for dogs as it increases their thirst, which can cause them to chug water. It also can cause digestion issues due to the high-fat content -- and the cooked bones of ham also pose a threat as they can splinter while eating. They're also a choking hazard."
"Sugar (and fake sugars) can be detrimental to dogs’ digestion, but candy also presents a choking hazard for pets from the shape and size or even from the wrappers!"
"This item is highly toxic and can cause a variety of issues in the nervous system should enough be consumed. Alcohol is often paired with other food items that also present a danger to pets, so alcoholic drinks can be quite dangerous."
"This food may be coated and cooked in herbs and spices that are not suitable for dogs (like garlic or onions) and the bones from the fish are small and sharp, which can be a problem if chewed or swallowed and cause life-threatening complications, such as perforation of the esophagus, stomach, or intestines."
"Coffee beans can be a choking hazard to pets, but the bean and grounds are also dangerous because of the caffeine content. Pets are sensitive to caffeine, and it can cause restless activity like pacing, an increased heart rate, tremors, vomiting, seizures and other complications."
HOW TO AVOID BEGGING
Don't give in! Pet owners might feel a pang of guilt, but these tips can save your pet's life.
"Remember that you have your pet’s best interest in mind, so rather than giving in to those longing stares, provide playtime, pets, exercise, or treats (don’t overdo this!) instead," Askeland said. "This is also a good thing to remind your guests" of these rules.
Prevent begging by occupying your pet with their own food or treat at the same time as dinner or make sure they don’t have access to the dining area.
Make your pet special homemade treats!
Make your pet his or her own holiday meal with a small amount of pet-friendly ingredients like carrots, green beans, plain rice, pumpkin puree (without additives), or plain, boiled chicken (without seasoning, skin and bones).
You can also get your pup some exercise before mealtime so they are more apt to go lay down quietly.
It's not just imperative for pet owners to take note of these precautions, but if they're hosting the holiday meals, to remind visitors of these rules as well.
"Make sure all guests follow the notable food rule and don’t feed your pet from their plates," she added. "A blanket house rule can help everyone work together to comply and prevent your pet from getting mixed signals from different family or friends."