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Pet-Safe Versions Of Your Favorite Winter Foods And Drinks


Some of the most comforting foods are winter foods and drink - from Christmas staples like ham and eggnog to Hanukkah favorites like Latkes and jelly donuts to seasonal sweets like gingerbread and hot chocolate. But most of these we can't share with our dogs. Fortunately, there are ways to modify the recipes for our pups. So here are pet-safe versions of your favorite winter foods and drinks with simple homemade, store-bought and quick and easy options!

Important Notes

Here are some general tips to keep in mind when feeding your dog different foods:

  • Keep everything plain - unsweetened, unseasoned, no fats (think butter and oils) or spices (like salt, garlic, onion, nutmeg, etc.) - as theses ingredients are harmful to dogs.
  • Remove thick or tough-to-digest skin from foods, like duck, and avoid giving any bones.
  • Feed in moderation to avoid gastrointestinal upset (such as diarrhea and gas) and weight gain (think of these as special treats, not regular feedings).
  • Make sure everything is the appropriate size for your dog's mouth to prevent choking or intestinal blockage.
  • Many of the following swaps aren't necessarily for every dog, such as those with specific conditions like diabetes or kidney disease (for example, our older dog who has CKD can't eat many of these items).
  • It's also always a good idea to talk to your vet about different foods and keep in mind that dogs can have allergies.

Apple Crisp

apple crisp

What's bad about it? Sugar, fats (butter and oils), lemon and other additives.

What's good about it? Apples! Apples are a great treat for your dog. They are crunchy (which can be helpful for dental care) and full of nutrients, like vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Super simple homemade option: Cooked apples (boiled or baked without fats, spices or seasonings - such as our crunchy apple recipe)

Quick and easy option: Fresh, frozen and dehydrated or dried plain raw apples (in smaller amounts than the first two) in appropriate portions for your dog's mouth

Store-bought dog specific options: Three Dog Bakery Soft and Chewy Apple Pie Flavor Dog TreatsAmerican Journey Apples & Cinnamon Oven Baked Crunchy Dog Treats, Bocce's Bakery Fireside Apple Pie Treats or Hill's Natural Crunchy Apples And Oatmeal Snacks

Pro Tip: It's best to feed apples in moderation, as they are high in sugar and their fiber content can cause gastrointestinal upset. Also avoid letting your dog eat the seeds, stem or core. This is because the seeds contain cyanide, which is toxic to dogs, and the core can be a choking hazard or cause intestinal obstruction.

Candy Canes

candy canes

What's bad about it? Sugar, corn syrup and peppermint oil.

What's good about it? Mint! Dogs can have most varieties of mint, including fresh mint leaves, in very small quantities (though Wintergreen and English pennyroyal are toxic). It can help freshen breath and aid digestion. It may even help with nausea or upset stomach, although too much can do the opposite by causing diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset.

Super simple homemade option: Mint banana "ice cream" or frozen Greek yogurt with no added sugar or other spices

Quick and easy option: Fresh mint leaves, but only one or two

Store-bought dog specific options: Benefit Biscuits All Natural Mint Dog TreatsBocce's Bakery Apple And Mint Breath BiscuitsRachael Ray Nutrish Apple And Mint Smoochies Brushes Dog Dental ChewsOld Mother Hubbard Minty Fresh Breath Natural Dog TreatsGreenies Mint Flavor Anytime BitesWag Human Grade Peppermint & Parsley Granola BitesMerrick Dog Dental Treats With Mint Breath StripsThree Dog Bakery Puppermint Sandwich Dog CookiesJack & Pup Bully Stick CanesNutriChomps Rawhide Free Dog Candy Cane ChewsBonne et Filou Christmas Mint Macarons For Dogs or Arm & Hammer Mint Dental Twisters For Dogs

Chili

chili

What's bad about it? Salt, fats (like butter and oil), spices and seasonings (like garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs).

What's good about it? Beans! Dogs can have several varieties of plain cooked beans, which are high in fiber and also provide some protein. Some varieties that dogs can eat include: black, lima, pinto, garbanzo and cooked kidney beans. Varieties to avoid include fava (can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain), coffee (can cause neurological damage and death) and raw kidney (contains toxins). Also, avoid feeding baked, refried, canned and chili beans that have dangerous ingredients like certain seasonings, onions, garlic, sodium, sugar and preservatives. Make sure that beans are soaked then cooked (uncooked are extremely hard to digest) and given in moderation. But beware, beans can give your dog gas, much like dairy does.

Super simple homemade option: Cooked or roasted beans with no added salt, sugar or other seasonings

Quick and easy option: Steamed and cooled edamame beans (outside the pod), roasted plain chickpeas (rinsed, drained, unsalted and unseasoned) or plain roasted unsalted fava beans, soybeans or edamame from Nuts.com

Store-bought dog specific options: Nulo Freestyle Duck And Chickpea Wet Canned DogWhole Paws Chicken And Garbanzo Beans Recipe For DogsZuke's Pork And Chickpea Training Treats or Applaws Taste Toppers (Chicken With White Beans, Pumpkin And Peas & Lamb With Zucchini, Carrot And Chickpeas)

Duck

duck

What's bad about it? Salt, fats (like butter and oil), spices and seasonings (like garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs).

What's good about it? Duck! Duck is a lean and easy-to-digest protein that provides iron and amino acids (which can help support muscles). It's also commonly recommended for dogs with food allergies.

Super simple homemade option: Plain, roasted duck breast (the leanest cut) with as much fat rendered out and no added salt, seasonings or other fat.

Pro Tip: To ensure your dog gets the leanest duck, cut away the fat with the skin and roast the meat longer than normal to render out as much fat as possible. 

Quick and easy option: Duck broth for dogs, such as Primalvore's All-Natural Duck Bone Broth, or duck dog food sprinkle topper, like Herbsmith Freeze Dried Duck Kibble Seasoning. 

Store-bought dog specific options:

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Duck Grill Wet Dog Food Cups and Duck in Hearty Gravy Chunky Bites ToppersI And Love And You Duck Recipe In Gravy Dog Food PouchCadet Gourmet Duck Jerky TreatsTrue Chews Premium Duck Jerky CutsFarmland Traditions Duck And Carrot Jerky TreatsJack & Pup Premium Grade Duck Feet Dog Chews, Full Moon Cage Free Duck Savory Sticks For DogsHill's Soft-Baked Duck & Pumpkin Dog SnacksBocce's Bakery Oven Baked Quack Quack Quack Duck TreatsBlue Buffalo Wilderness Crunchy Duck BiscuitsAcana Freeze-Dried Duck And Pear Treats or Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Duck Biscuits

Eggnog

eggnog

What's bad about it? Milk, cream, sugar, fats and spices (like nutmeg, which is toxic to dogs and can cause abdominal pain, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, hallucinations and even seizures).

What's good about it? Eggs! Eggs are typically safe for dogs and provide decent nutrition. They are high in protein, vitamins (like A and B12), fatty acids, iron, riboflavin, selenium, folate and more. Also, their shells are high in calcium, which can support bone and teeth health.

Super simple homemade option: Plain scrambled eggs (with not fats, spices or seasonings) or chopped up hard-boiled eggs.

Pro Tip: It's recommended that you feed eggs in moderation, with no more than 1/4 of an egg per day for smaller dogs and one egg per day for larger dogs.

Quick and easy option: Egg shell powder 

Store-bought dog specific options: Puppy Scoops Dog Ice Cream Vanilla Flavor, Fruitables Vanilla Greek Yogurt Crunchy Dog Treats, Three Dog Bakery Golden Vanilla Flavor Crunchy Sandwich Cookies or Milk Bone Vanilla Yogurt Dipped Dog Biscuits 

Pro Tip: Look for eggs from free-range farm hens from a trusted source. Also, some dogs with medical conditions should avoid eggs, so it's a good idea to talk to your vet about giving them to your pup.

Gingerbread

gingerbread

What's bad about it? Sugar, fats (like butter and oil), spices (like nutmeg, which is toxic to dogs, and cloves, which can cause gastrointestinal upset) and leavening agents (like baking powder, which are toxic and can cause gastrointestinal issues, seizures, heart problems and more).

What's good about it? Ginger! In moderation, ginger is safe for dogs to eat in small amounts. It has several antioxidants that can support your dog's blood circulation and can relieve motion sickness or nausea, gastrointestinal problems and bloat. Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory, which can be helpful for canines with arthritis, such as senior dogs.

Super simple homemade option: Raw ginger (peeled, in small enough portions to eat and up to one teaspoon only) on top of your dog's food or plain roasted ginger slices with no seasonings or fats

Pro Tip: It's recommended that you only give your dog up to one teaspoon of raw ginger, as anything more can cause gas, nausea or heartburn.

Quick and easy option: Ground ginger (up to 1/12 teaspoon only) on top of your dog's food

Store-bought dog specific options: Portland Pet Food Gingerbread Dog Treat Biscuits, Bocce's Bakery Gingerbread Dog TreatsBuddy Biscuits Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Gingerbread Shaped Dog Treats or Weruva Ginger & Turmeric Pumpkin Pouches 

Glazed Ham

glazed ham

What's bad about it? Salt, fats (butter and oil, but ham also has a higher fat content than other meats), spices and seasonings (like garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs).

What's good about it? Pork! Plain, fully cooked pork in moderation is okay for dogs to eat. Raw and undercooked pork, however, are dangerous to dogs (like they are to humans) because of the parasite trichinella spiralis, which can cause a parasitic infection called trichinosis. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, gastrointestinal upset, fever, lethargy, pain, stiffness and muscle inflammation.

Super simple homemade option: Plain, roasted pork breast with no added salt, seasonings or other fat.

Pro Tip: Look for tenderloin, as that is the leanest cut and will thus have the least amount of fat.

Quick and easy option: Pork broth specifically made for dogs like Brutus Pork Bone Broth for Dogs

Store-bought dog specific options: Zignature Pork Wet Dog FoodMerrick Chunky BBQ Pork Wet Dog FoodACANA Premium Chunks Pork in Bone Broth Wet Dog FoodPortland Pet Food Company  Pork And Potato Dog Food Pouch TopperPork Chomps Roasted Pork Skin Dog Chew TwistsPet Brands American Kennel Club Lil Champs Soft & Moist Pork Flavor Dog TreatsStella & Chewy's Crav'n Bac'n Bacon And Pork TreatsCanine Cravers Tender Pork ThinsFull Moon Natural Cut Pork Jerky Dog Treats or Farmland Traditions Pork Premium Jerky Treats

Hot Chocolate

hot chocolate

What's bad about it? Sugar, cocoa, methylxanthines (specifically caffeine and theobromine). For a more in-depth read, check out our article about why chocolate is bad for dogs.

What's good about it? For our dogs, nothing. But there's a chocolate alternative called carob that is safe for dogs to consume. Carob is a Mediterranean fruit extracted from the carob bean that grows on carob trees. They have a mildly sweet flavor but contain no theobromine, caffeine or other toxic substances found in chocolate. What they do contain are a variety of nutrients like vitamins (specifically A, B, and D), calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium on top of protein, fiber and pectin (which helps flush toxins from the body).

Super simple homemade option: Carob powder mixed with water, a small amount of lactose-free milk or unsweetened coconut milk (make sure it's as low-fat and low-sodium as possible)

Quick and easy option: Carob chips or carob powder sprinkled on your dog's food

Store-bought dog specific options: Puppy Scoops Carob Ice Cream Mix for DogsBocce's Bakery Mud Pie Oh My Training TreatsBocce's Bakery Campfire S'Mores Soft & Chewy Dog Treats or Three Dog Bakery Carob and Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies For Dogs

Jelly Donuts

jelly donuts jelly doughnuts sufganiyot

What's bad about it? Sugar, fats (butter and oils), leavening agents (such as yeast, are toxic and can cause gastrointestinal issues, seizures, heart problems and more), milk and dairy, salt and other additives.

What's good about it? Raspberries and strawberries! Jelly donuts are usually filled with raspberry jam, though sometimes it's strawberry. Raspberries are low calorie, lower sugar fruits packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (like potassium and magnesium) and fiber. In addition, these berries have anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful with join pain and arthritis, which is especially beneficial for senior dogs. However, raspberries have one of the highest amounts of natural xylitol, which can be toxic to dogs, so they need to be given in moderation.

Strawberries are also a low-calorie, nutrient-dense snack for your dog. They are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and even contain an enzyme that can help whiten your dog's teeth. There is also some belief that continued consumption of strawberries can strengthen your dog's immune system and help manage their weight.

Super simple homemade option: Cooked down raspberries or strawberries (with no added sugar, fats or seasonings) into a zero sugar jam to use for lick mats or as a food topper. Another option is using a cake mix for dogs like Puppy Cakes. If you want to take it one step further, you can use donut molds and put your plain zero sugar jam on top. 

Quick and easy option: Fresh, frozen and dehydrated or dried plain raw raspberries and strawberries (in smaller amounts than the first two) in appropriate portions for your dog's mouth

Store-bought dog specific options: Wüfers Doggie Donut Cookie BoxMore and Merrier Munchy Donuts Dog Treats, Arm & Hammer Strawberry Dental Rings, Pork Chomps Rawhide Free Chicken Rings, Bonne et Filou Dog Macarons in Strawberry and Raspberry flavors, The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Strawberry Soft Baked Treats, Threepaws Strawberry Coconut Cream Dog Treats or Fruitables Strawberry Flavored Greek Yogurt Dog Treats 

Lamb

lamb

What's bad about it? Salt, fats (like butter and oil), spices and seasonings (like garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs).

What's good about it? Lamb! Lamb is high in protein, vitamins and minerals. It is full of amino acids that help muscles, as well as good fats that help maintain energy. It can aid and maintaining skin and coat health, as well as provide an easier option for dogs with diet allergies or sensitivities. Just make sure to avoid giving your dog any lamb fat, so cut that off along with the skin.

Super simple homemade option: Roasted plain, unseasoned lamb without salt, seasonings and fats. Remove the skin and any fat and cut the meat into pieces appropriately sized for your dog's mouth and small enough to digest without posing a choking risk

Pro Tip: The legs are the leanest cut, so opt for that when feeding to your dog.

Quick and easy option: Raw plain, unseasoned lamb without fat or skin (cut into pieces that are appropriate for your dog's mouth and small enough to digest without posing a choking risk)

Store-bought dog specific options: Nature's Variety Instinct Lamb Wet Dog Food TopperBlue Buffalo Freedom Lamb Wet Dog FoodMerrick Chunky BBQ Lamb Canned Wet Dog FoodWellness 95% Percent Lamb Wet Dog FoodPet 'n Shape Lamb Jerky Dog TreatsWag Baked Crunchy Lamb Dog BiscuitsStella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Lamb Wild Weenies TreatsNylabone Healthy Edibles Lamb & Apple Dog Chews or Wellness CORE Lamb & Apple Soft Trainers

Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

potato pancakes latkes

What's bad about it? Salt, fats (like butter and oil), spices and seasonings (like garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs).

What's good about it? Cooked potatoes! Cooked potatoes are okay to feed to your dog in small amounts, but raw potatoes are toxic. This is because they contain solanine, which is poisonous to dogs. Cooking potatoes reduces the amount of solanine, making them safer to feed to your pup.

Super simple homemade option: Cooked potatoes or mashed cauliflower (baked or boiled with no fats, spices or seasonings and in appropriate portions for your dog's mouth)

Quick and easy option: Unseasoned, frozen French fries or cauliflower (in appropriate portions for your dog's mouth), like Gold Rush products

Store-bought dog specific options: Good'n'Fun Wavy Chips Treats For DogsJustFoodForDogs Beef and Russet Potato Recipe or Portland Pet Food Company  Pork And Potato Dog Food Pouch Topper

Pro Tip: Feed potatoes in moderation to avoid weight gain and cut them into bite-sized pieces to avoid becoming a choking hazard or causing intestinal blockage.

Prime Rib Roast

prime rib roast

What's bad about it? Salt, fats (like butter and oil), spices and seasonings (like garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs).

What's good about it? Beef! As long as it's lean and preferably grass-fed. Beef has vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids that can help your dog's muscles, joints, skin and coat. Some of these include vitamins B12 and B6, iron, zinc, phosphorus, riboflavin, selenium, niacin and choline.

Super simple homemade option: Roasted or steamed plain, unseasoned lean beef or low-fat ground beef in pieces small enough for your dog's mouth (and to avoid choking)

Quick and easy option: Raw plain, unseasoned lean beef without fat that is cut into pieces that appropriate for the size of your dog's mouth and small enough to digest without posing a choking risk.

Store-bought dog specific options: Pup-Peroni Prime Rib Flavor Dog SnacksPurina ALPO TBonz Ribeye Flavor Dog Treats, Cesar home Delights Grilled Ribeye And Vegetables Wet Dog Food, Rocco & Roxie Slow Roasted Beef Soft Jerky Dog TreatsCesar Softies Chewy Filet Mignon Dog Treats, Blue Buffalo Beef Jerky Dog Treats or Stella & Chewy's Beef Freeze-Dried Wild Weenies Dog Treats

Slow Cooked Pot Roast

slow cooked pot roast

What's bad about it? Salt, fats (like butter and oil), spices and seasonings (like garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs).

What's good about it? Beef (as long as it's lean and preferably grass-fed - see above in prime rib roast), carrots and potatoes (see in Latkes)! Carrots are one of the best vegetable snacks you can feed your dog. They can serve as a healthy, low-calorie, and nutritious alternative to treats. They can also serve as something for your dog to chew, providing some at-home dental care and relief for teething puppies.

Super simple homemade option: Roasted or steamed plain, unseasoned lean beef or low-fat ground beef in pieces small enough for your dog's mouth (and to avoid choking).

Quick and easy option: Raw plain, unseasoned lean beef without fat that is cut into pieces that appropriate for the size of your dog's mouth and small enough to digest without posing a choking risk.

Store-bought dog specific options: Merrick Chunky Pot Roast Dinner Wet Dog Food, Cesar Home Delights Wet Dog Food in Pot Roast With Spring Vegetables or Braised Beef With Carrots And Peas flavors, Fromm Crunchy O's Pot Roast Dog Treats or Pup-Peroni Rounds Beef Short Rib Dog Treats

Stew

beef stew

What's bad about it? Salt, fats (like butter and oil), spices and seasonings (like garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs).

What's good about it? Meats, vegetables and rice! Stews have all kinds of meats and vegetables that can be beneficial for dogs to eat. These include beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Super simple homemade option: Roasted or steamed plain, unseasoned lean meat in pieces small enough for your dog's mouth to avoid choking. You can add plain rice and steamed carrots, potatoes or sweet potatoes as well.

Quick and easy option: Mix some carrots and rice in with no sodium broth, preferably broth specifically made for dogs like Brutus Bone Beef Broth for Dogs

Store-bought dog specific options: Rachael Ray Nutrish Hearty Beef Stew Wet Dog FoodThe Honest Kitchen Bone Broth Pour Overs Wet Toppers in beef stew flavor and a variety pack (beef & lamb, chicken and turkey), Merrick Lil' Plates Itsy Bitsy Beef Stew Wet Dog Food, Hill's Science Dog Food Beef & Vegetables Stew for seniors and Turkey & Rice Stew for sensitive stomachs, Bocce's Bakery Beef Bourguignon Biscuits With Beef, Carrots & ParsleyBlue Buffalo Nudges Homestyle Beef and Rice MeatballsMilo's Kitchen Beef Sausage Slices With RiceRachael Ray Nutrish Beef And Barley Flavor Soup BonesWag Lamb & Brown Rice In Gravy Dog Food Topper or Rachel Ray Nutrish Rustic Duck Stew Wet Dog Food

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