One of the best parts of the holiday season is all the tasty food! It makes sense that your emotional support animal (ESA) would want to join in on the deliciousness. However, Christmas food and emotional support animals don’t always make a good match. There are actually several foods that can be quite dangerous for ESAs to eat. So, make sure you’re extra vigilant when eating during the holidays – never leave your plate unattended! Here’s everything you need to know about the festive foods that can be harmful to your ESA.
What foods are dangerous for my ESA?
If you have an ESA dog at home, there are a bunch of things you’ll need to make sure they steer clear of.
- Beverages: Including alcohol, coffee, tea, or caffeinated drinks – and absolutely no eggnog (it’s filled with ingredients that are dangerous to dogs!).
- Sweets: Candy, chewing gum, chocolate, sugar, and sugar substitutes (make sure they don’t snag any Christmas cookies or desserts since sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon are all big no-nos).
- Seasonings: Salt and garlic are two examples that are used in a lot of Christmas cooking.
- Some veggies: Corn on the cob (corn off the cob is fine), onions, chives and peppers (this means you shouldn’t give them tastes of any dishes like stuffing or mashed potatoes that have these types of ingredients in them).
- Some fruits: Avocados, grapes, raisins, apple seeds, persimmons, peaches, and plums (basically, all stone fruits with pits are dangerous). This means no fruitcake for your pup!
- Fat trimmings: Even if they come from your tasty Christmas turkey or ham, you shouldn’t feed them to your pet.
- Macadamia nuts: Almonds and peanuts are okay for dogs to eat, but not macadamias.
- Milk and dairy products: These can be difficult for some dog breeds to digest properly, so make sure they don’t get their paws on any milk, cream, cheese, or butter.
- Raw meat and fish: These are off-limits. Only serve your pup cooked meats and fish – but still steer clear of ham or bacon, as they can cause pancreatitis in dogs.
- Yeast: Things like beer and bread can be harmful to dogs’ digestive systems due to yeast.
It’s also important to remember that it’s not a good idea to give your dog turkey bones to chew on. Even though they may seem innocuous, cooked bones can actually perforate the intestines, which can sometimes require surgery to fix.
If you have an ESA cat, there are also some foods you should steer clear of. These include onions, garlic, raw eggs, alcohol, yeast, raw fish, potatoes, chocolate, milk products, and caffeine. Have a different species of animal as your ESA? Take some time to do a quick Google search to check out which foods are dangerous for your ESA to consume, and then make sure they won’t have access to any of those ingredients.
Which foods can I feed my ESA?
There are some Christmas foods for animals that are actually okay to eat. You can give your dog:
- Turkey: A mainstay of most Christmas feasts.
- Seafood: Including salmon, tuna, and shrimp (just stick to cooked ones).
- Veggies: Such as carrots, green beans, off-the-cob corn, cooked sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, cucumbers, and spinach.
- Pumpkin: In case you have any of that canned pumpkin left over from your pie!
- Eggs: Preferably cooked.
- Popcorn: Some people string popcorn along their Christmas trees, so it won’t matter if your dog nabs a few bites!
Similarly, there are some foods that are fine for cats to eat. You can feed them meats such as chicken, turkey, or beef; fish that comes from a can or has been cooked; veggies such as steamed broccoli or asparagus; cooked eggs; and cheese.
What are some tips on how to make sure your ESA doesn’t snag any Christmas food?
First, you might be wondering, “What should I be feeding my pet at Christmas?” The answer is that you don’t necessarily have to feed them anything different just because it’s the holidays. (Hint: they won’t really know it’s Christmas!) Feel free to give them their regular canned or dry food per their usual routine. But if you’re wondering, “Should I be doing something special when feeding my ESA at Christmas?”, you can try a few things so that they don’t end up trying to steal “people” food.
One solution is to make sure you’re feeding your ESA regularly, even when you get extra busy hosting guests or cooking your Christmas dinner. If your ESA is full, they aren’t as likely to rummage around looking for something delicious to eat. Also, make sure you’re not keeping anything tempting at their eye level. This means putting foods up on countertops or high shelves so they won’t be tempted to snap up some food. This can be tricky for dogs or cats who can climb or jump high, but you should be able to move things around so that those sausage strings or Christmas candy are somewhere they can’t reach!
One other option is to get your dog or cat some healthy treats that will be just as tasty and exciting to them as human food. Order some fun treats online or go to the nearest dog bakery (yep, they’re a thing). Then, when you’re preparing your holiday feast for family and friends, they’ll have their own treat to focus on.
Just remember: your ESA knows you love them without you having to share table scraps with them. In fact, not allowing them to eat harmful human food shows you love them even more! As much as you’d like to share in the holiday spirit with your furry friend, it’s okay to let them skip the Christmas treats. So pay attention to the list above to avoid any festive foods that could be dangerous to your ESA. Then you can enjoy your holiday meals without worrying about them eating something they shouldn’t.