Can Dogs Eat Turkey? Is Turkey Bad for a Dog

The holidays are a time of year when it’s especially tempting to feed our pets table scraps. Dogs can, in fact, gain a lot of weight during November and December, because those are the months their owners tend to feed them human food more than usual. As you make turkey for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holidays, it’s tempting to slip our dogs some meat, or to even make a plate for them as a special holiday treat.

But is turkey safe for your dog to eat? Does it depend on how it’s prepared? It’s common sense to take caution with human food, but dogs are carnivorous and need meat in their diets, so at first glance, turkey seems perfectly safe to feed them. However, are there any potential risks that should keep you from doing this so you can get your dog through the holidays safely?

The good news is, dogs can eat turkey. The meat is not toxic to dogs, and in fact, is an ingredient that’s included in many commercial dog foods. As with any human food, you should check in with your veterinarian before feeding it to your dog, as your vet will know best whether it’s safe. You should also only feed turkey in small amounts; any large amount of human food will be harmful to a dog’s health, even if it is included in their dog food.

Is Turkey Beneficial For Dogs?

Not only is turkey an ingredient that’s already included in a lot of commercial dog food, but it also contains a lot of nutrients that are beneficial to your pup. It has protein, riboflavin, and phosphorous. Protein especially is an essential part of any dog’s diet. When cooked plain and under the guidance of a veterinarian, turkey can be a great part of a homemade food diet that you can prepare yourself for your dog.

Like chicken, turkey is a lean, white meat that will help your dog build muscle. It’s also a highly digestible protein source for dogs, and turkey-based pet foods can provide an alternative option for dogs who have sensitivities or allergies to certain foods such as beef or chicken. You’ll also see “turkey meal” on the ingredient list of commercial pet food. This is a perfectly acceptable form of protein.

When is Turkey Bad For Dogs?

Plain turkey is absolutely fine to feed to dogs. The problem is, Thanksgiving turkeys and other holiday food is rarely cooked plain. If you stuff your bird with butter, oils, and seasonings, be aware that you should never give parts of this to your dog. Certain herbs, spices, and additions, such as onion and garlic, are extremely toxic for canines. There are also side dishes that your turkey might touch that can be harmful for your pet. These foods can give your dog digestive upset or can lead to more serious conditions such as pancreatitis.

Also avoid giving your dog the rich and darker pieces of turkey like the skin and dark meat, as well as any fatty areas like the turkey legs. Vets caution against giving dogs extremely rich, fatty foods, as these can lead to some serious health problems. For the healthiest choice, as you give your dog a slice of turkey, make sure it’s the lean, white meat, with excess fat and skin removed.

How to Feed Your Dog Turkey

If you do decide to feed your dog turkey, and your vet gives you the okay, there are a few things you should be aware of so you can complete this safely. If you give your dog turkey, make sure that it’s skinless. All of the fat and seasoning associated with the piece of turkey will be contained in the skin, and the fat and seasoning is what can be very dangerous for dogs. The fact content can lead to pancreatitis, and seasonings can irritate your dog’s stomach and entire digestive system.

You should also ensure that you are only feeding your dog turkey meat. Scrape off anything that comes with the meat and take out any bones, so they are only eating meat and only getting the protein from the food. Most importantly, you should not feed turkey bones to your dog. Poultry bones, especially ones that are cooked, are very brittle. This, combined with their small size, makes them a very dangerous choking hazard for dogs, and you don’t want your dog to be digesting small fragments of bones anyways.

Veterinarians caution against feeding dogs bones of any kind. They can cause the following problems:

  • Mouth and tongue injuries
  • Constipation
  • Choking
  • Obstruction of the throat or intestinal tract
  • Rectal bleeding from sharp bone fragments
  • Bone fragments that pierce the lining of stomachs and intestines
  • Blockages that require emergency surgery

Instead of giving your dog a bone, try a rubber chew toy or a large nylon toy for them. Some of these toys are even sold flavored or with dog-friendly treats inside them. These will be much safer.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey Conclusion

During the holidays, it’s especially tempting to treat your dog to table scraps; they are part of the family, after all, and deserve some of the meal. Meat seems like a positive thing to feed to dogs, and the good news is, turkey is safe, as long as there are no seasonings on it, skin, or bones.

Feed your dog only small quantities of turkey, and talk to your vet about adding food scraps into your dog’s diet. This can be a problem, especially around the holidays, and what is fine for us may not be fine for your pet. You should also be aware if your dog has any pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, that may worsen the situation.

You can feed your dog turkey safely, as long as you follow these guidelines. Keep in mind that you should always speak to your vet about giving your pet human food, and feeding your dog table scraps on a regular basis can lead to obesity, which causes many other problems. As long as you give your dog white, protein-packed turkey every once in a while, you can both enjoy special holiday meals.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey?
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