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Can Dogs Eat Turkey? Is Turkey Safe For Dogs?

Can Dogs Eat Turkey? The short answer is “yes and no?” Turkey is not toxic to dogs. It is an ingredient in many commercial dog foods and is rich in nutrients like protein, riboflavin, and phosphorus. When cooked plain, under the guidance of a veterinarian, it can be an essential part of a homemade dog food diet.

can dogs eat turkey

Whether you’re getting ready for a winter holiday meal like Thanksgiving or just having a turkey sandwich on a typical day, you may find yourself wondering if it’s safe for your dog to eat turkey meat. The answer is yes; it’s okay for dogs to eat turkey prepared with no seasonings or spices and without the skin. Turkey bones, however, are another matter.

can dogs eat turkey

Holiday meals like Thanksgiving or just having a turkey sandwich on a typical day, you may find yourself wondering if it’s safe for your dog to eat turkey meat. The answer is yes; it’s okay for dogs to eat turkey prepared with no seasonings or spices and without the skin. Turkey bones, however, are another matter can dogs eat turkey.

can dogs eat turkey

A discerning dog owner might wonder if it’s safe for dogs to eat turkey.

Plain Turkey Is Safe for Your Dog

Turkey is quite nutritious for dogs. It has essential nutrients like protein, riboflavin, and phosphorus.1 But to be safe for your dog to eat, it must be cooked plainly can dogs eat turkey.

can dogs eat turkey

Many household foods can be toxic or harmful to dogs, such as onions, leeks, garlic, raisins, dairy products, certain nuts, bacon, and even too much salt. These ingredients are often used when preparing the turkey. And if it’s for a holiday meal, you might find these in the stuffing too. That’s why a holiday-cooked turkey usually isn’t appropriate for your dog, but bites of plainly prepared turkey are okay. You also want to avoid giving your dog turkey skin, which is unhealthy for her because of the seasonings and the high-fat content. If you have any concerns, talk with your veterinarian.

Turkey Is Often an Ingredient in Dog Food

Even if you don’t want to go through the trouble of preparing plain turkey, you might still want your dog to enjoy turkey while you’re eating it. Consider getting dog food with turkey as the main ingredient. Then you can both enjoy can dogs eat turkey together.

can dogs eat turkey

Don’t Give Your Dog Turkey Bones

Although plain can dogs eat turkey meat without the skin is safe, you should not give your dog turkey bones.2 Take care to make sure any turkey bites you feed your dog are small enough to ensure they don’t have bones in them. Meat bones can splinter and puncture your dog’s intestines, cause a blockage in his stomach, or even lead to choking. They can also cause tongue or mouth injuries. It’s best to avoid meat bones altogether.

can dogs eat turkey

How to Feed Your Dog Turkey Safely

If you decide to feed your dog turkey this Thanksgiving, there are a few things you need to know to do it safely.

  • Skip the skin. All of that fat and seasoning is dangerous for dogs. The fat content can cause pancreatitis, and the seasonings can irritate your dog’s stomach.
  • Make sure you only feed your dog turkey meat. Onions are toxic to dogs, and garlic is potentially toxic in large quantities.
  • Feed your dog only small quantities of turkey, and talk to your vet about adding food scraps into your dog’s diet, especially if your dog has a preexisting health condition, like diabetes.
can dogs eat turkey

Make sure there are no bones in the meat you feed your dog.

Instead, get bones that are designed especially for dogs, like a long-lasting Turkey Leg Power Chew that’s durable and helps with dental health. Or try Turkey Dog Chew Treats that are long-lasting and digestible. Either can be a great alternative to turkey bones.

can dogs eat turkey

When Turkey Can Be Dangerous for Dogs

It’s the worst-case scenario for your holiday meal: you go outside to throw your majestic fowl on the smoker, just about to lay it over the hot coals when suddenly disaster strikes. The bird slips out of your hands, and the whole thing drops to the ground, covering your turkey in mud and debris can dogs eat turkey.

can dogs eat turkey

Even if your dog is jealous of the food you’re eating, it’s important to put your dog’s health first rather than giving in to those cute, begging eyes. Just remember that plain turkey is okay, but turkey skin and bones are not. You can also distract your dog from your tempting food with a plush dog bed or reward him for being patient by going for a bike ride or exercising together after your meal.

can dogs eat turkey

However, there are a few things to consider before you carve your pup a piece can dogs eat turkey : 

  • A dog’s treat allowance can make up to 10% of its total daily caloric intake. For a typical 25 lb. dog that would be about 40 grams of white meat turkey or 30 grams of dark meat turkey NOT including the skin. That’s not much! 
  • Turkey is an excellent source of the amino acid tryptophan. While too much tryptophan and turkey for humans may make us feel tired, large quantities of turkey for dogs can cause an increase in flatulence. Feed your dog too much turkey and expect some toots! 
  • Dogs and savory seasonings often don’t mix well. For example, garlic and onion can impact dogs’ red blood cell function and should be avoided. If there’s enough garlic seasoning on the turkey that you can smell it, it may be too much for your dog. 
  • Deli turkey meat is not a good option. Deli meat is usually laden with added sodium, fat and seasonings and may not be ideal options for many dogs. 

As with cooked chicken bones, cooked turkey bones are a no-go. Cooking breaks down the structural integrity of the bone such that it can easily shatter. Not only are they at risk for intestinal obstruction, but if a bone were to shatter within your dog’s gastrointestinal system, a piece could easily perforate the tract. This could cause sepsis and, if veterinary medical attention isn’t sought out immediately, could prove fatal.

can dogs eat turkey

can dogs eat turkey, If your dog is not easily stressed and handles changes to its diet easily, roasted or baked turkey breast can be a generous treat. But be cautious not to overindulge or feed turkey with unknown additives. 

Updated: October 6, 2021 — 7:15 pm

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