Turkey is a fan favorite among humans, especially on Thanksgiving. As we know, turkey comes in many forms. Whether you’re into deli meat or a traditional cooked turkey, we’ve all wanted to slip our dog some goodness here and there. So can your dog eat turkey? Yes! Turkey is not toxic to dogs, but there are certain safety precautions you should take before tossing your dog a turkey leg during Thanksgiving dinner.
In general, turkey is good for dogs and can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. Similar to chicken and other meats, turkey is a common protein found in kibble and wet foods produced by major dog food companies. A few benefits of turkey meat include:2
● Protein: Turkey is full of lean protein, making it a great way for your dog to boost their energy and keep muscles strong.
● Phosphorus: This mineral found in turkey is great for your dog’s kidney health.
● Magnesium: Turkey contains this mineral which promotes good skin and a shiny coat.
Overall, turkey can be a great protein-packed option for your dog to supplement their daily diet, and can also serve as a high-value snack in training or for other rewards. That said, always double-check with your veterinarian before adding new foods to your dog’s diet.
As mentioned, turkey is best served to dogs when it’s free of any additives, including butters, oils, and spices. Unfortunately, that means no Thanksgiving turkey for your pooch (unless you cook them a plain one separately!).
The amount of turkey your dog should have depends on their size and dietary needs. Similar to chicken, boiled turkey can also be part of a bland diet alongside rice to help ease symptoms if they’re experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.3
While turkey is widely considered safe and healthy for your dog when served plain, the safety of other turkey parts aren’t as cut and dry.
Turkey bones are very brittle when cooked, and they turn into glass-like splinters that can be highly dangerous for both animals and humans. Vets recommend you don’t feed your dog turkey bones to avoid a medical emergency.2 Some of the complications associated with consuming turkey bones include:
● Mouth and tongue injuries
● Bone fragment-related injuries in the stomach, intestines, or rectum
While dogs love chewing on bones, it’s best to avoid giving your dog poultry bones, including turkey bones.
When compared to the more popular, mouth-watering pork bacon option, turkey bacon is absolutely the healthier choice for your dog. Although it’s a healthier option, it’s still not necessarily a healthy option to give your dog on a regular basis.
Be mindful of fat content in the turkey bacon you’re feeding your dog, as too much fat in their diet can cause pancreatitis. Also, it’s best to make homemade turkey bacon if possible, as store-bought turkey bacon often has high sodium content that can cause your dog to develop other health problems.
Surprisingly, turkey necks are a highly nutritious treat that can be safe for your dog when prepared correctly. Similar to chicken feet, chicken necks, and duck necks, turkey necks are often freeze-dried or dehydrated, making the texture of the bone a more digestible and safe treat for your pup compared to cooked bone. Turkey necks also have dental benefits, helping to remove build-up on teeth and improve bad breath. Always consult your vet prior to serving them treats with bones in it, as there are potential risks.
When you feed a dog raw turkey, you increase their risk of contracting bacterial infections like salmonella.4 If you have a puppy, or a dog with cancer or kidney disease, it’s best to avoid feeding them raw turkey. As always, talk to your vet if you’re considering incorporating raw food into your dog’s diet.
Dogs should not eat turkey skin due to its high fat content.2 Like other poultry, the skin should be taken off before feeding it to your dog to avoid conditions like pancreatitis. Skipping the skin also helps prevent your dog from developing other health conditions that can prevent your dog from living a long life, like obesity. No need to worry if you accidentally left a little bit of skin on the turkey, though. While it’s not recommended, it won’t hurt your dog if it happens once or twice.
Giving your dog plain, skinless, boneless turkey meat is the best way to incorporate this type of poultry into your pup’s diet. Of course, accidents do happen. If you find your dog has ingested a part of the turkey that can make them sick, contact your vet to help determine next steps and identify if it’s an immediate concern. Consider investing in a dog insurance policy from MetLife1 to help offset the costs of emergency visits and even wellness check-ups.