The hustle and bustle of Christmas is here. It is one of my favourite holidays, particularly because it means there is plenty of food to eat!
As a much-loved member of the family, dogs will often be slipped a scrap or two around the festive season. But be prepared when your furry friend comes begging; not everything on the Christmas menu should be shared.
Here is my guide to the do's and don'ts of sharing your Christmas dinner with your dog.
High fat foods like turkey skin, goose fat, gravy, bacon and sausages should be avoided.
Too much fat can cause pancreatitis, inflammation of the dog's pancreas, which can be fatal.
TOP TIP: If you want to treat your pooch to some turkey, choose skinless breast meat.
Don't play wishbone with your dog - bones can perforate the oesophagus, stomach or intestines and cause blockages along the digestive tract.
Raisins can cause canine kidney failure so keep your dog away from Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies.
TOP TIP: Swap grapes and raisins for blueberries and dried cranberries.
Don't share your advent calendar with your dog!
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which dogs can't metabolise as well as humans. It accumulates in dogs' bodies and becomes toxic or even fatal.
TOP TIP: Try replacing chocolate treats with apple or carrot.
Bowls of nuts are classic Christmas nibbles but whilst a little bit of peanut butter is fine for dogs, macadamia or walnuts can be toxic.
Many dogs are lactose intolerant so the milk in bread sauce can cause upset stomachs.
Yogurt and ricotta cheese are good alternatives as they are low in lactose and excellent sources of calcium, phosphorus and protein.
TOP TIP: Swap cheese for ricotta cheese and replace whipped or sour cream with a bit of low-fat yoghurt. The active bacteria in yoghurt can act as a probiotic, which will help your dog's digestive system.
Onions cause a form of anaemia and should never be fed to dogs.
Garlic has similar effects but is much less potent so a tiny amount used for flavouring is OK.
Xylitol, which can be found in chewing gum, store-bought desserts and anything artificially sweetened, is more dangerous than chocolate for dogs.
It lowers blood sugar in dogs, which can be life threatening as well as causing liver damage.
Brandy butter and alcoholic drinks are a big No-No for dogs.
Booze, even in tiny amounts, can do permanent damage or even be deadly.
TOP TIP: Water flavoured with low-fat gravy is a good virgin tipple for your dog
Turkey meat (without skin) is low in fat and doesn't require any special preparation but you may need to set aside a portion for your dog before adding any butter, cheese, onions sugar or any other "do not eat" foods.
TOP TIP: Replace gravy with low-salt bouillon or stock from the giblets to any turkey scraps for the dog's dinner.
Salmon is a great Christmas treat for your food. High in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can support a dog's immune system as well as being beneficial for allergies and adding shine to your dog's coat.
TOP TIP: Choose tinned or cooked salmon. Never feed smoked salmon to your dog. The likelihood of your dog becoming ill from smoked salmon is very slim but it can contain a parasite which can cause problems for dogs. Stick to tinned or cooked salmon to be on the safe side.
Brussels sprouts can become a Christmas staple for your dog as well as for your own dinner.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans and parsnips are excellent safe food choices for your dog as well.
If you are giving him leftovers, make sure to rinse off any excess butter or oil or put aside a portion for your pooch before dressing the veg.
TOP TIP: Treat your dog to some mashed potato by making it with a bit of low-fat yoghurt.
A little cranberry sauce can be shared with your dog but be aware that its often full of sugar.
A little natural sugar in moderation is not bad for dogs. It occurs naturally in many foods and is necessary for a dog to have energy. If a dog has too much sugar, he will react the same way you would if you over-indulged; hyperactivity followed by dental problems, lethargy, obesity and diabetes.
Many dogs love apples but make sure to cut out the core as apple seeds are toxic to dogs. Apple slices can make a great healthy alternative to biscuits.
TOP TIP: Instead of a Christmas pudding, core an apple (down the middle and across) and stuff it with our special Christmas recipe (see below).
ELMO'S KITCHEN CHRISTMAS DINNER FOR DOGS
Quantity: Half the daily calories for a medium-sized dog
Nutritional information: Protein 49g; fat 10g; carbohydrates 88g
100g turkey, roasted skinless
40g canned salmon, drained
350g potatoes, boiled or plain mash
50g Brussels sprouts, boiled
50g carrot, raw or boiled
1tbsp cranberry sauce
6tbsp giblet stock
Prepare the ingredients, mix together and place in the dog bowl.
NOTE: Consult your vet before feeding to any dogs with health issues.
So there you have it. Most dogs can tolerate a bit of most of our Christmas foods.
And after all that eating, why not clip on the leash and go for a walk. Make it special. Meet the neighbour's dog, go a different way, or go for a longer walk - you might want to walk off that extra serving of Christmas pudding yourself.
Have a dog-lightful and safe Christmas dinner!
For more information about which foods can be safely shared, download our app Doglicious, where you can look up over 220 'human' foods to find out whether they are safe or harmful to your dog.