Table of Contents
Getting your dog ready for Christmas
What to give your dog for Christmas dinner
Christmas treats for dogs
Which Christmas foods can’t dogs eat?
Things that can be difficult for dogs at Christmas
Festive fun for your four-legged friend
Dog Christmas jumpers
How to help your dog avoid overwhelm
Your Christmas FAQs
To sum it all up…
Christmas is just around the corner. It’s a time for being together, and if you’ve got a four-legged family member, that includes them. But what’s the best way to get dogs involved in the celebrations? What will they like and what stresses them out? In this blog we cover all you need to know about Christmas for dogs. We cover it all, including the most important question: can dogs eat turkey? Read on for all you need to know about festive fun, games and food for your dog. Let’s dive in.
Christmas is so much more than the day itself, and for most of us, the build-up is a big part of the fun. But the way our homes change over the holidays can be disorientating for dogs. From trees and fairy lights to moved furniture and new people, we want to do what we can to avoid unsettling them, so they can have as much fun as us.
Before you get the decorations out, think about how you’re going to keep your four-legged friend calm and happy. Dog Christmas gifts are wonderful, but first and foremost they need plenty of reassurance. Introduce new things – and people – slowly. If visitors they don’t know are coming over, try to introduce them first so your dog can get to know them. If you can, a few days in advance, and if that’s not possible, let the dog meet them outside the house before they come in. Remember what you’ve learned about stressed dog body language, and keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs in your pup.
When you do decorate, think about putting things up gradually over a few days, rather than transforming your home environment all at once. And if you’re getting a real tree, remember your dog might try to scratch, chew, or even wee on it – boy dogs especially! Are Christmas trees poisonous to dogs? Luckily, most varieties are fine, but watch out for dropping needles as they can get lodged in paws, eyes, and noses. It’s best to opt for a non-drop variety if you can. Be equally aware of which decorations they can reach, particularly if any of them are shaped like balls or dog toys! Try to place anything dangerous high up, and don’t let them drink the tree water. If your dog’s a known Christmas-tree botherer, think about placing up a barrier around it so they aren’t tempted to get to it.
If you notice any dog stress signals from your pup, you may want to try pet calming aids in the run up to Christmas. Brands like Adaptil or Pet Remedy make products such as diffusers, sprays, collars and jackets which some pet owners find help to soothe sensory overload and anxiety. And designating a “time out” space the dog can retreat to unbothered – whether that’s a spare room or a crate – can be a successful way of making them feel at ease.
Food plays a huge part in Christmas celebrations, so think ahead about what your dog’s going to eat too. A dog Christmas dinner can be prepared from the usual holiday staples, with some exceptions. Can dogs eat turkey? Absolutely! Dogs can eat turkey cooked, or raw if it’s especially prepared for pets. That being said, the traditional roast turkey we serve at the table might be heavy on sodium and oil, or flavourings like onion and garlic, which are toxic to dogs. That’s why you might prefer to serve them our turkey blocks or freeflow mince. Just serve it up with boiled or steamed veggies like carrots, peas, broccoli, or brussels sprouts. When it comes to the trimmings, skip the gravy, stuffing, and any sausages. These may contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs. And avoid placing anything containing chocolate, raisins, sultanas, or nuts at nose (or paw) level. Remember: the best Christmas dog treats are the ones that are safe for them to eat.
Other Christmas dog treats your pup will love are meat or fish balls, or mixing up some cooked meat cakes – you can find lots of dog-friendly recipes online. If you’re looking for a ready-made, easy-to-serve turkey dinner for your dog (after all, you’ll probably have your hands full) our Complete & Balanced nuggets give them everything they need. Just pour, thaw, and serve.
When it comes to festive treats, can dogs eat turkey skin or chew turkey bones? We recommend avoiding turkey skin: it’s very fatty and the seasonings can be toxic for dogs. If you’d like to give them turkey bones, make sure they’re raw – cooked bones splinter into sharp pieces and present the risk of choking and intestinal blockage. Raw bones are a safe and special treat. Always choose raw bones that are too big for your dog to fit in their mouth all at once, like our raw turkey neck treats. We always advise that your dog is already being fed a raw diet before using our meaty bones as treats.
You could also try baking some Christmas dog treats, like these banana and peanut butter biscuits, these chicken biscuits, or this dog-friendly gingerbread. Alternatively, try putting their favourite treats inside a new festive Kong or serving them a splash of Pawsecco or doggy beer.
Can dogs eat Christmas dinner? While dogs can eat turkey, there are some Christmas foods they can’t have. As we mentioned earlier, turkey skin, any cooked bones and gravy are best avoided. We also recommend avoiding anything high in fat – so you can keep those lovely roast potatoes to yourself.
When it comes to the sweet stuff, take extra care. There are always chocolates around at Christmas and our four-legged friends can be drawn to the wrappers, but chocolate’s highly toxic for dogs. The same goes for Christmas pudding or mince pies, which are full of dried fruit that can make them seriously unwell. Make sure alcohol’s kept out of reach, too. Dogs aren’t afraid to poke their noses into your almost-empty glasses and seem to love creamy drinks like Baileys, but alcohol can be poisonous for them.
Our homes often get extra busy at Christmas, and that’s sometimes challenging for dogs. If they usually love spending time in the kitchen, you might find they’re an excitable trip hazard when you’re cooking Christmas dinner. And when it comes to presents, don’t leave them alone if you think they’ll dive in. Many dogs enjoy shredding paper!
If your furry friend’s meeting new people, be aware that not everyone’s a dog person. Some people might not feel comfortable around dogs, and your dog might not be used to being around so many people. It’s also worth thinking carefully if anyone asks to bring their own pup along. If they know your dog, it might work, but if you think your dog will feel anxious, it’s ok to put them first – don’t feel pressured to say yes. Never leave your dog unattended with children, particularly young ones who might not know dog tail meanings or dog body language. It’s best to avoid any misunderstandings!
So which Christmas activities can your dog get involved in? Well, dogs usually love tearing off wrapping paper and opening parcels, so there’s plenty of fun to be had on Christmas morning. Stay close by though – once they get started, they might try to open your presents too!
Christmas dog toys never go amiss and give them something to focus on during the excitement. While most dogs love a new toy, remember that most of them love ripping paper so much they won’t even mind unwrapping old ones. Just make sure they don’t eat the paper while they’re at it. They also love playing with boxes, so you could try hiding toys, treats or members of the family inside for some festive hide and seek. The best dog Christmas presents pale in comparison to time with their loved ones.
Fireworks and dogs never mix, and the snap of a Christmas cracker might alarm your dog in the same way. If you pop a treat inside an empty one, you’ll probably find your dog loves playing tug with them. You can even make your own dog-friendly Christmas crackers with how-to videos like this one. Some dogs also enjoy a singalong, so whether you’re singing carols at home or calling on the neighbours. Don’t be surprised if they add some howls of their own!
If, like lots of families, you head out for a Christmas Day walk or Boxing Day kick-about, your dog will love coming along, so look for dog friendly places to visit together. Be sure to check out our article on dogs and cold weather to make the most of your outing. Finally, when everyone settles down for a Christmas film or game, have one last treat ready while your dog enjoys some downtime. They’ll love a Kong stuffed with snacks like these Natures Menu favourites.
There’s a lot of love for novelty jumpers at Christmas, and if you’re thinking of dressing up your dog, you won’t be short of options. If your dog’s used to wearing jumpers, jackets or outfits, they might be happy to oblige. If you’re snapping pictures for your socials, some dogs will love the extra attention.
But just like us, all dogs are different. Yours might not want to dress up in a full dog Christmas outfit, or sit still for photos, especially when Christmas is already an intense day. You know your pup best, so if they don’t seem happy, don’t push it. You could try something simpler like a Christmas lead, collar, bandana or blanket. If they’re stressed, it’s best to just let your dog do their thing and leave them out of your photos.
Christmas is a busy, noisy time and while you might be loving every minute, your dog might want a little peace and quiet at some point. New people, especially children, won’t always pick up on the signs your dog needs some space, and might continue to fuss them when that’s not what they need.
Dogs aren’t always good at understanding they’re overwhelmed, so it’s important to keep an eye on them. Try to keep one of their favourite spots in the house free, in case they’re displaying dog stress signals, like having a low tail or showing the whites of their eyes. Part of understanding dog behaviour is knowing when it’s a good idea to take them somewhere quieter. If that happens, settle them with a toy or treat so it doesn’t feel like a punishment.
The same goes if they’re getting the zoomies. This may be a sign of overexcitement. If you notice your dog racing around in circles to release excess energy and you feel it’s getting out of hand, step in, have a little one-on-one time and encourage them to rest in their bed, away from the action.
Yes! Dogs can eat cooked turkey (as long as it’s bone free), or raw turkey if it’s prepared for pets, like our 100% turkey blocks, freeflow mince or Complete & Balanced nuggets. They can also have raw turkey bones, as long as they’re big enough not to be a choking hazard (they shouldn’t be able to fit the whole thing in their mouth at once). Don’t give them turkey skin because the seasonings can be toxic and the fats can cause a dangerous condition called pancreatitis. They also shouldn’t have cooked bones because they splinter easily and can cause injuries.
No, dogs can’t have a full roast dinner. Roast potatoes are too fatty, and gravy and stuffing often contain ingredients toxic to dogs, like onion or garlic. They can have plain turkey though, as well as carrots, peas, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
Dogs can eat turkey (but not the cooked bones). They can also eat veggies like carrots, peas, broccoli or brussels sprouts, but it’s best to steam or boil them to avoid giving your dog too much fat.
Yes! Dogs love unwrapping presents, so long as they don’t contain anything breakable or dangerous and you don’t let your dog eat the paper (or what’s inside it). Simply giving them paper to play with makes a fun Christmas for dogs.
There are all sorts of great stocking fillers for dogs that make perfect Christmas gifts for dogs, from a new toy or ball to stocking-size packs of snacks.
If your dog eats tinsel, call your vet straightaway. While it’s not poisonous, it can cause dangerous internal damage, so your dog needs to be checked over by a professional.
To keep your dog away from the Christmas tree, you could try spraying a scent they don’t like (such as bitter apple or citrus). Other techniques dog owners find helpful include standing your tree on a hard, textured mat so it’s uncomfortable on their paws, and training your dog to leave the tree alone using treats. Call them away, then reward them when they do. If you can’t always be in the room, you might find it safer to use a baby gate or play pen, or to close the door so they can’t go in.
At Christmas, vets see a lot of pancreatitis, a condition caused by dogs eating fatty foods. They also regularly deal with pets who have swallowed things they shouldn’t. It’s also a time when they help pet parents who are concerned about dogs being grumpy. It’s a normal dog reaction to an exciting time, but if you’re worried, it’s best to talk it through.
Dogs are part of the family, so whatever you’re planning this Christmas, take the time to see things from their point of view so they can have a happy, healthy festive season with you. Think about Christmas dinners they’ll love, activities they’ll enjoy and dog friendly places to visit as a family. And if your home’s going to look a little different over Christmas, decorate gradually, be reassuring and introduce guests carefully, giving your four-legged friend a balance of excitement, exercise, and quiet time too.