Healthful Pet Treats for the Holiday Season

It’s the holiday season! As we share time, treats, and meals with our friends and family it’s only natural to include our four-legged family members. How do we keep Buddy and Bella healthy and happy while allowing them to partake in a treat or two?

Fortunately, there are common fruits and vegetables that make perfect treats for your dog.  While nutrient dense, these treats are low in calories so you can achieve a balance between treating your pet and keeping them at a healthy weight for long term health overall.


A slice or two of apple is a perfect treat for your dog. Remove the core and seeds before sharing as apple seeds contain a small amount of cyanide which can be harmful to your dog. Apples are nutrient rich and full of fiber, so they make a great snack for your pup.  There are 2500 varieties of apples grown in the United States, so finding one to share with your dog should be easy.

Cooked Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of the antioxidant beta carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. Roasted, they will keep well in the refrigerator making it easy to share a piece or two.  Never give raw potatoes of any kind to your dog. Raw potatoes contain solanine, a compound that is toxic to some dogs. Cooking a potato reduces the levels of solanine. If you want to share potatoes with your pet, they should be roasted, baked or boiled with nothing added to them. So, keep Grandma’s Sweet Potato side dish for yourself.

Green Beans

Mixing up a green bean casserole for the holidays?  Go ahead and treat your pup to plain cooked green beans only. Green beans are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, and also contain high amounts of fiber and folic acid.


Carrots are loaded with vitamins and beta carotene and are probably in your kitchen already.  Bite sized pieces make a nutritious treat for Buddy and Bella. As some breeds are known to swallow without chewing like labs and beagles, make sure your carrots are cut to the appropriate size for your pet.

Cooked Squash

Zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, and even pumpkin are great treats for your dog when cooked.  Remember to remove the seeds before feeding to your pets. For butternut squash you will also want to remove the rind.

Sharing healthy treats with Bella and Buddy can keep them trim and support their overall health.  However, not everything that’s good for you should be shared with your pup. Some common foods that are harmful to pets include grapes and raisins, garlic, onions and leeks.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and Raisins can cause renal failure in dogs and cats. Initial symptoms within the first few hours of consuming grapes or raisins include vomiting and/or diarrhea leading to lethargy, dehydration and weakness.  It is unknown why grapes and raisins cause renal failure in dogs and cats, or even how much or how many will cause toxicity.  It has been reported that 4-5 grapes have been associated with the death of an 18 lb. dog.

Garlic, Onions and Leeks

Garlic, onions and leeks all belong to the Alliaceae family and have known health benefits to humans.  These benefits do not extend to our furry family members.  Onions, garlic and leeks are mild to moderately toxic for certain breeds of dogs and cats. Symptoms of toxicity take a day or two to appear as onions, garlic and leeks cause damage to the red blood cells leading to anemia.  Gastroenteritis can also occur with consumption of plants in the Alliaceae or allium family. Cooking does not remove the toxicity of these plants.


While xylitol is not a food, it is a sweetener found in many common foods including peanut butter. Xylitol can cause a drop in blood sugar and liver damage that can be lethal to dogs. Even a small amount may affect your pet.  Xylitol is found in toothpaste, dental floss, sugar free candies, chewing gum and more.  Carefully check your product labels before giving any treats to your pet.

If your pet consumes any of these toxic foods, consider it an emergency and contact your vet immediately or the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-855-764-7661

Knowing what to share and what to keep to ourselves can help all members of our families enjoy the holidays, and every day, with special healthful treats.


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