Christmas is a time for indulging with friends and family and your pets are a part of that too!
Whether you have a beloved dog or cat at home, or simply look after your garden wildlife, all our furry and feathered friends will love a special treat this Christmas.
Feeding them a special Christmas dinner is a lovely way to involve them in the festivities.
When feeding animals at Christmas, it’s important to remember that their dietary requirements are not the same as ours and there are certain parts of our diet that aren’t suitable for them.
The idea is to give them a Christmassy treat they can enjoy, whilst still ensuring they are provided with the right nutrients and energy.
To help you, here’s a quick guide on what you can and can’t feed your pets and garden wildlife for Christmas.
So, that they can indulge at this time of year too… without the tummy ache afterwards!
Dogs always love to get involved in the festivities; charging through the wrapping paper and joining us for Christmas walks, so it’s nice to treat them to something special whilst we tuck in to our turkey.
Here’s a delightful idea for a delicious and nutritious Christmas dinner for your dog:
- Skinless, boneless turkey breast meat
- Steamed sprouts, green beans and parsnips
- Carrot or swede mash and cranberry sauce
Don’t feed your dog any grapes, or desserts containing raisins such as mince pies and Christmas pud and make sure your dog doesn’t eat any chocolate, as dogs can’t metabolise it in the same way that humans can.
Anything containing onions, garlic or chives should also be avoided, such as stuffing, as when consumed in large enough amounts can cause gastrointestinal irritation. You can buy special ‘dog chocolate’ from pet shops if you want to really spoil your pooch this Christmas.
Our curious feline friends love the smell of roasting turkey, and always show a keen interest in that salmon starter! Their fascination with the Christmas tree never fails to amuse.
To give them a tasty change from their normal tinned food, you can let them have a two course festive feast:
- Tinned tuna in water, not brine
- Skinless, boneless turkey breast meat
- Chopped steamed sprouts and peas
Much like dogs, cats definitely should not be fed grapes, mince pies or chocolate, and be sure not to leave these out on the side where they can easily be reached by your furry friend.
It’s tempting to give your cat a drink of milk or cream – but cats are actually lactose intolerant and feeding them milk or cream will cause digestive problems, so it’s best avoided. You can buy some special cat friendly yogurt drops from pet shops, as a special sweet treat for your moggy after dinner.
Rabbits and Guinea pigs
Smaller pets like rabbits and Guinea pigs are herbivores, so turkey and pigs in blankets hold no interest for them.
They’ll adore the following Christmas veggies, but make sure you serve them raw and thoroughly washed:
- A small parsnip, or small amount of chopped apple
- A few grapes
Be sure not to give your furry friend any chocolate, potatoes or peas, as these can be toxic to rabbits.
Our garden wildlife shouldn’t be neglected over the holiday period. If you usually put out food for your garden birds, then don’t forget to keep doing so over Christmas! They will otherwise waste valuable energy and resources coming to your bird table, to find it empty.
You will most likely have lots of leftover food and the following items can be safely put out for the birds:
- Biscuits, cakes, mince pies or Christmas pud
- Cooked or uncooked pastry made with real fat
- Mild grated cheese
- Chopped apples, pears and dried fruit
- Unsalted raw nuts
- Fats from meat (that hasn’t been cooked in salt)
- Chopped roast potatoes
- Morsels of biscuits and cakes
Be sure not to put out anything containing salt, as this is unhealthy for birds. You should also avoid anything cooked in salt, and anything containing desiccated coconut.
Putting out large quantities of food may attract other unwanted visitors, so it’s best to just put out what gets eaten, and then keep topping it up.
Don’t forget to also provide a fresh supply of water for your birds to have a Christmas drink!
If you’re lucky enough to have hedgehogs hibernating in your garden, you shouldn’t disturb them.
If the weather is mild, then they may venture out looking for food, so you can always leave a small amount of dog or cat food out near the hibernation den to give them a little boost.
Definitely avoid giving them milk as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and this will give them a very upset tummy for Christmas Day!
If you really want to get to know your garden hedgehogs, then click here to read my blog.
Don’t forget to compost your leftover food scraps to feed the worms and eventually, your plants!