Can Dogs Eat Turkey? Is Turkey Good for Dogs?

Turkey is a common delicacy for most families during Thanksgiving and other holidays. During such events, turkey meat is plentiful, and you may wonder whether to share it with your furry friend. But can dogs have turkey and is it safe for them to eat? In this article, we’ll provide important vet-approved information about how to feed turkey to your dog, and what red flags to watch out for!
Dr. Kathryn Dench - Qualified Veterinarian Surgeon with over ten years of experience in small animal medicine.
October 4, 2022
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6
min read

Can Dogs Eat Turkey?

Yes, dogs can eat cooked turkey. Turkey is a healthy food for dogs, and is a common ingredient in various commercial dog foods. It’s rich in protein, riboflavin, and phosphorus.

Most dogs love the taste of turkey, and a turkey-rich meal can be a real treat for them. So, can you give dogs turkey leftovers from your Thanksgiving plate? Well, the turkey itself won’t be a problem, but you need to watch out for the accompaniments that go with it, and be careful of any bones.

How to Feed Your Dog Turkey

Is turkey okay for dogs? Yes, it is a worthwhile addition to your dog’s homemade food. For your dog to eat it safely, here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Avoid adding onions, garlic, salt, herbs, pepper, and other spices when preparing turkey for dogs
  • Avoid giving raw or undercooked turkey to your dog as it may contain bacteria like Salmonella
  • Remove bones and skin
  • Cut the turkey into bite-sized pieces
  • Give a small quantity, don’t overfeed 

Before giving turkey to your dog, make sure it’s well-cooked. Avoid frying turkey for dogs as this can add unnecessary fats that may trigger digestive issues, but roast or boiled turkey is fine. You can give your dog turkey with rice, sweet potato, or pumpkin for a highly digestible, nutritious homemade pet food. You can also prepare treats with turkey pieces, wheat flour, and other dog-friendly ingredients.

If you are experienced at offering a raw diet to your dog, feeding raw turkey is another option. If you haven’t fed raw food before, it’s a good idea to speak to a vet to guide you through the transition from its regular high-carb dry food to raw food, including how to avoid the risk of food-borne bacteria. Because turkeys sold for Thanksgiving are intended to be cooked, they may not have undergone the hygiene processes necessary for a raw food diet.

Is Turkey Good for Dogs?

Turkey is good for dogs if it’s given in moderation. It is high in protein and low in fat. For instance, 100g of cooked skinless breast meat contains 161 calories, 4g of fat, and 30g of protein

It is also a source of phosphorus, potassium, vitamins B6, niacin, riboflavin, zinc, and iron. Phosphorus supports your dog’s bone and teeth health, while riboflavin enhances its metabolism and digestive system.

Due to its high digestibility, turkey is considered one of the higher-quality protein sources. However, as with all seasonal treats, beware having too much of a good thing. Overfeeding turkey to your dog can cause them to gain weight, and excess protein may also lead to kidney or liver disease.

Harmful Ingredients that Could Be in Your Turkey

Is turkey bad for dogs? Turkey is not bad for dogs. However, dogs eating leftover Thanksgiving turkey stand a risk of experiencing digestive problems because it may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs. 

Harmful components in your pet’s turkey may include:

  • Onions, garlic, and some spices can be toxic 
  • Skin – turkey skin is fatty. The high-fat content can cause pancreatitis or obesity
  • Bones – turkey bones, especially when cooked, are fragile and splinter easily. They may cause mouth and throat injuries, choking, intestinal obstruction,  piercing of the stomach or intestines, painful bowel movements, and rectal bleeding.

Turkey allergies are very rare in dogs, but you should always introduce a new food in small amounts and monitor your dog’s reaction. Be ready to take them to the vet if they have any abnormal response – we recommend doing this on a regular work day when your vet’s is open, rather than on a holiday!

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Can Dogs Eat Ground Turkey?

Ground turkey is healthy for your dog as long as the meat is well-cooked and doesn’t contain flavorings or too much fat. The meat should be properly cooked to prevent Salmonella bacteria from giving your dog food poisoning. You should avoid all flavorings since they can cause your pet to have stomach upsets.

Ground turkey is best when derived from dark meat. Dark meat has more zinc, selenium, and iron than white meat. It also contains plenty of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are healthy, and ground meat containing them is an excellent choice for your dog. However, if your dog is fat intolerant or on a diet, use lean turkey meat instead.

Read nutrition labels before buying ground turkey. Some may contain skin or processed forms of turkey, which you should avoid. The same is true if you’re wondering can dogs eat turkey slices: the turkey itself is fine, but the seasonings and preservatives can cause an upset stomach.

When adding ground turkey to your dog’s diet, reduce the amount of kibbles it eats to prevent overweight issues. 

Final Thoughts

Can dogs have turkey? Yes, dogs can eat turkey, but with certain considerations. Turkey is one of the healthiest foods for your dog, but the accompaniments we put with it on our places can be harmful. 

When giving turkey to your dog, ensure it’s boneless, skinless, and well-cooked without additives. Always monitor carefully when introducing a new food. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your veterinarian before giving it to Fido. 

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GoodPaw Pet Services Inc., GoodPaw, offers free advice, product information and other editorial resources that are intended for informative purposes only, and should not be used in place of proper veterinary care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat your pet. If your pet is experiencing any health concerns, contact a licensed veterinarian. GoodPaw assumes no responsibility for action taken based on information given from GoodPaw.com.

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