Can Dogs Eat Turkey? Is Turkey Safe For Your Dog?

Yes, your dog can eat turkey, but under certain conditions. Turkey is packed with proteins and is relatively lower in fat and cholesterol than other meats.

Plus, it’s a great alternative for dogs that have food allergies to other protein sources. 

A dog with a whole roasted turkey
A hungry dog with roasted turkey

However, you should serve turkey in moderation to your dog as it may cause some health risks if consumed excessively.

This guide discusses the health benefits of turkey to your dog’s overall health and the risks of feeding it incorrectly to your pet.

This also includes which parts of the turkey are safe and not safe for your canine and how much turkey your dog should eat.

Keep reading to find out!

What are the Benefits of Turkey Meat for Dogs?

Turkey breast meat is a lean, easy-to-digest protein that can be a great alternative option for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies to chicken-or beef-based dog food recipes.

Raw skinless turkey breast
Raw turkey breast meat

Here are the benefits of turkey for your dog’s health.

  1. Turkey is an excellent source of protein for dogs: Cooked turkey breast meat contains 29 g of protein per 100 grams. Dogs need protein as a part of a healthy balanced diet. The essential amino acids your pet gets from protein contribute to muscle development, tissue repair, a healthy coat and skin, and a robust immune system.
  2. Turkey is high in protein but low in fat: If your dog is overweight, on a weight loss program, or prone to developing pancreatitis, it’s recommended to incorporate turkey meat as a high-protein source into his diet. A 100-gram serving of white turkey meat contains 50% less fat than the same amount of white chicken meat.
  3. Turkey is suitable for dogs allergic to chicken or beef: If your pet has food allergies to other meats, particularly chicken or beef, switching to turkey meat as an alternative protein source is advisable.

What nutrients in turkey are beneficial for dogs?

Turkey is an ingredient in many commercial dog foods as it provides many nutrients to your dog to keep him healthy.

It doesn’t just contain high protein and low fat, but it also has multiple vitamins and minerals your pet needs.

These nutrients include magnesium, riboflavin, and phosphorous.

  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): This nutrient supports your dog’s digestion, growth, and healing. Your pet’s body requires riboflavin to break down protein, carbohydrates, and fats and turn them into energy. Riboflavin is also essential for repairing and growth of DNA.
  • Phosphorus: A 100g of turkey contains about 187 mg of phosphorus. This is an essential mineral that your dog’s body needs for strong bones and teeth, as well as healthy metabolism and kidney function.
  • Zinc: Adding zinc to your dog’s diet can contribute to healthy skin and fur, good thyroid function, and a strong immune system.

What are the Health Risks of Turkey for Dogs?

A dog looking at Thanksgiving turkey
A dog wants some Thanksgiving turkey

Turkey can be bad for dogs, depending on how you prepare and serve it. Here are some health risks of incorrectly feeding turkey to your canine.

  • Gastrointestinal upset: Turkey is rarely prepared plain. It’s often seasoned with oil, butter, seasoning, onions, and garlic. Most of these are bad or toxic to dogs and can cause digestive problems.
  • Choking: Turkey meat often contains bones, which can splinter and cause digestive problems. The bone may get trapped in your dog’s throat or digestive tract, which may cause bleeding and pain.
  • Poisoning: Avoid feeding your dog uncooked turkey as the raw or undercooked meat may contact bacteria such as salmonella. Symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, dehydration, and abnormally increased heart rate.

What’s in turkey that is harmful to dogs?

While turkey is relatively lower in fat than other types of meat, it’s best to recognize that too much fat can put your dog’s health at risk.

Turkey skin and legs are usually fatty, which can cause pancreatitis if consumed too much.

This condition occurs when the pancreas gets inflamed, causing symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and loss of appetite. 

If you’re planning to add turkey to your pooch’s diet, it’s best to skip these parts and serve the meat only moderately.

Is There Any Dog Breed Allergic to Turkey?

Any dog can be allergic to anything, even turkey. However, there is no specific breed of dog that is considered to be more allergic to turkey than any other breed.

Allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to a particular protein, and therefore, any dog can develop an allergy to any protein, including turkey. 

Some symptoms of allergic reaction to turkey include itchy skin, skin rashes, vomiting, paw biting, and hair loss.

If you suspect that your dog may be allergic to turkey, it’s important to consult with a vet so they can give you appropriate diagnostic testing and treatment plan.

What Happens If Dogs Eat Too Much Turkey?

As mentioned, turkey still has fat content, albeit lower than in other protein sources.

Feeding your dog turkey, especially the fatty parts, on a regular basis may cause weight gain and other serious health conditions such as pancreatitis. 

Weight gain may lead to obesity, which in turn may cause hypertension, diabetes, and joint conditions, among others.

Also, while mild cases of pancreatitis may be managed with prompt and aggressive treatment, severe forms may lead to death.

How Should Dogs Eat Turkey?

A Siberian Husky looking at a bowl of turkey
Yuuki, a Siberian Husky, loves a bowl full of turkey – Image source

Dogs can safely eat turkey meat as long as it’s cooked thoroughly and without any seasoning.

Seasonings such as salt, garlic, onion, and sage can be toxic to dogs, so it’s important to avoid adding them to your dog’s food. 

When feeding your dog turkey, start with small amounts and see how they tolerate it.

Some dogs may have trouble digesting turkey, so it’s important to watch for signs of digestive upset such as vomiting or diarrhea.

1. Skip the skin

Before feeding turkey to your dog, be sure to remove the skin. The skin is normally quite fatty and typically loaded with seasoning to make it tasty for humans.

Most turkey skin has added salt, seasoning, and flavorings like garlic, onion, and chives which can be toxic for your dog.

2. Care about the quantity

If your dog swipes some turkey this holiday season, you probably don’t have to rush him straight to the vet.

However, if he managed to get hold of the whole turkey and swallow some bones, it’s best to take him for a check-up to ensure there are no blockages. 

If you want to give your dog some small pieces of turkey, give the plain breast meat and do it in moderation.

Feeding your pooch turkey from your plate is not a good idea since this probably has spices and flavorings that can harm him.

3. Ensure there are no bones in the turkey meat

When preparing a turkey meal for your pet, ensure that there are no bones in the meat.

Turkey bones, in particular, can be very dangerous for dogs if they’re ingested. This is because they can splinter and cause blockages or punctures in your dog’s digestive system. 

Also, be careful when throwing out turkey bones, and ensure your pet doesn’t sneak them from the trash.

You can try to use a lidded garbage can or keep your dog away from where the trash is kept.

4. Don’t add any onions or garlic to the turkey meal

Be sure not to mix turkey with ingredients like scallions, chives, leeks, onions, and garlic.

Onions and garlic contain thiosulfate, a chemical that is toxic to dogs and should be avoided at all costs.

Is Turkey a Good Treat for Dogs?

The short answer is yes, plain turkey meat makes a good treat for your dog as long as your vet gives a signal. Just make sure it’s skinless, boneless, and unseasoned.

You may also cut the cooked meat into thin slices to make it easier for your pup to consume.

When should dogs eat turkey?

The best time to feed your dog turkey will depend on the occasion.

For example, if you’re planning to take your dog on a long hike, you’ll want to give him a hearty meal beforehand so that they have plenty of energy.

On the other hand, if he is prone to indigestion, you may want to avoid feeding them turkey immediately before or after exercise.

The best time to feed your dog turkey is whatever works best for your pet.

If he has not tried turkey before, you may give him plain turkey on Thanksgiving or on National Turkey Lovers’ Day to make it a special occasion!

When should dogs not eat turkey?

If your dog is allergic to turkey or other poultry, never give him the meat or any food or treat that features it.

Also, he should avoid eating turkey, especially if he’s at risk of developing pancreatitis or obesity.

Pancreatitis is a serious condition that can be life-threatening. Obesity, on the other hand, can lead to a number of health problems. 

What are the Food Recipes Made with Turkey for Dogs?

You can cook a plain turkey in a variety of ways, including boiling or sauteing it. Once it’s cooked, you can add it to your dog’s regular food or use it to make homemade treats.

For example, you could mix cooked turkey with some chopped vegetables.

Otherwise, you could slice the turkey into strips and bake it with dog-friendly ingredients like oats and carrots to create a delicious and nutritious turkey dog biscuit.

Whatever way you prepare it, your dog will surely enjoy the taste of turkey.

Which Parts of Turkey are Safe to Feed to Your Dog?

Turkey can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet, provided that you know which parts are safe and healthy to feed your pets. Let’s look at the parts of turkey that are good for dogs.

1. Turkey Breast

A close-up image of roasted turkey breast
Roasted turkey breast

The white meat of a turkey or the turkey breast is the best part to give to your dog, which is lower in fat and cholesterol but high in protein.

Be sure that the white meat is cooked plain, boneless, and skinless, which is safe and healthy, especially for overweight dogs prone to certain medical conditions like pancreatitis. 

Cooked boneless, skinless turkey breast is easy on your dog’s digestive tract and can be helpful as a home remedy if he has an upset stomach.

2. Ground Turkey

Plain ground turkey with no additives is a healthy source of protein for your dog.

It is better to make your own ground turkey if you can, as store-bought ground turkey often has higher fat levels, leading to obesity and a range of health issues for your pet.

Which Parts of Turkey are Bad for Dogs?

An American Eskimo puppy looking at Thanksgiving turkey
Koda, an American Eskimo pup, wants Thanksgiving turkey, too – Image source

Although turkey is healthy food for dogs to eat, not all the parts of the whole turkey are safe. There are parts that you should avoid while you’re prepping a turkey for his meal.

1. Turkey Bones

If you have turkey leftovers or an excess of table craps from your Thanksgiving, never give turkey bones to your dog, as this can be dangerous.

Cooked turkey bones have sharp points which can splinter your pet’s gastrointestinal tract and cause internal damage.

Other health risks of feeding turkey bones are choking or lodging in your dog’s teeth, jaw, esophagus, or stomach.

2. Turkey Necks

Most turkeys come with giblets. This is a collective term for the parts of turkey such as the heart, liver, gizzard, and neck.

Most of these parts, when cooked, are safe to feed your dog, except for the neck, due to the bones contained therein. Turkey necks can pose a choking hazard for your dog.

3. Turkey Legs

Turkey legs are typically fatty and often cooked with bones. For these reasons, this is not the best part of turkey to share with your dog.

As mentioned, too much fat can cause pancreatitis, and bones may trigger choking or blockage in the gastrointestinal tract.

Other Forms of Turkey that are Harmful to Dogs

Aside from the parts of the turkey that you need to consider before feeding this to your dog, there are also other forms of turkey that are unhealthy for your dog.

These include turkey bacon, deli turkey, turkey sausage, turkey ham, and smoked turkey.

1. Turkey Bacon

Turkey bacon is a cured meat product made from ground turkey meat. Unlike regular bacon, which is made from pork belly, turkey bacon does not have a high-fat content.

However, due to the curing process, it does have a high salt content which is not good for your dog. 

2. Deli Turkey

As mentioned, plain, cooked turkey is the best way to serve the meat to your dog.

That said, deli turkey is not a good option for your pooch as it usually has added fat, salt, and seasonings.

Also, some deli turkey is heavily processed and preserved. Hence, it should not be given to your dog.

3. Turkey Sausage

While there are types of unseasoned sausage that are safe for dogs to eat, turkey sausage is not one of them.

It’s typically made with various ingredients that can harm dogs, including too much salt, onion, garlic, black pepper, and raisins.

For this reason, it’s best to avoid giving your dog this type of sausage.

4. Turkey Ham

Processed forms of turkey, such as turkey ham, are typically high in fat and salt, which can be difficult for dogs to digest.

Turkey ham also contains preservatives and other flavorings that are unhealthy for your pet to consume.

5. Smoked Turkey

Smoked turkey should be also avoided. Store-bought smoked turkey is often packed full of preservatives that are dangerous for your dog.

Also, smoked turkey generally has been salted or seasoned, and high levels of sodium can lead to sodium ion poisoning in dogs.

Is Cooked Turkey Better than Raw Turkey for Dogs?

A close-up image of raw turkey breast
Raw turkey breast

As discussed above, cooking turkey meat is the best way to prepare it for your dog.

Not only does cooking make it easier to digest, but it also eliminates the risk of salmonella poisoning.

Boiled, sautéed, roasted, or baked turkey is okay for your dog as long as it’s plain and boneless.

If your dog is on a raw diet plan and you are opting for giblets every now and then, make sure these parts are cooked before giving them to your dog.

Foods to Mix and Not to Mix with Turkey

A dog with a plate of turkey and vegetables
Endo, a cute doggo, thinks veggies go well with turkey – Image source

Some fur parents opt for pairing plain turkey with other ingredients or adding it to their poochs’ food to make their meals more interesting.

This is fine as long as everything that is added to your pooch’s food bowl is pet-friendly.

Here are some of the ingredients that you may or may not mix with your fur baby’s turkey.

1. Turkey with Rice

Dogs can eat white and brown rice. This carb source boosts dogs’ energy and offers various vitamins and minerals. Plus, it’s quick to prepare and easy to digest.

Just make sure to serve it in moderation.

White rice, in particular, has lower amounts of fiber than brown rice and is usually used to settle a dog’s upset stomach.

However, it has a moderate glycemic index. If given in excessive amounts, it can cause spikes in dogs’ blood sugar levels.

Brown rice, on the other hand, is more nutritious because it’s less processed. The downside is that it’s less easy to digest.

2. Turkey with Chicken

Dogs can eat chicken. Chicken is a fantastic, affordable lean source of protein that most dogs love.

It doesn’t have any salt or sugar added which is great for dogs and a plain chicken and rice diet is often recommended by vets for dogs recovering from illness or surgery.

3. Turkey with Duck Meat

Duck is a less common protein source that is often given to dogs with allergies.

It is full of iron and is a tasty, easily digestible protein for pets. It is however also quite high in fats.

4. Turkey with Cheese

While dogs can eat cheese, try to avoid processed cheeses or store-bought cheese sauces which contain too much salt and unhealthy fats.

5. Turkey with Gravy

When it comes to gravy, the answer depends on the ingredients.

Most commercially-prepared gravies contain spices and other seasonings that can be harmful to dogs, so it’s best to avoid giving them any gravy.

However, if you make your own gravy using dog-friendly ingredients, it should be safe for your pup to consume in small amounts.

Just be sure to avoid adding any extra salt, fat, or seasoning.

Are foods made with turkey safe for dogs?

Take an eye on foods made with turkey or that feature it. These include meatballs, meatloaf, burgers, pies, and casseroles.

These often contain ingredients such as spices, onions, and garlic, which can be toxic to dogs.

While you might want to share these yummy foods with your pet, it’s best to serve the meal plainly with other dog-friendly ingredients.

How Much Turkey Should a Dog Eat a Day?

A Coton de Tulear with roasted turkey leg
A Coton de Tulear mesmerized by a piece of roasted turkey leg – Image source

The exact amount of turkey you can feed your dog will depend on his size.

Ideally, dogs need 1 gram of protein per pound of their ideal body weight. For example, a 25-lb dog requires 25 grams of protein each day.

As discussed earlier, cooked turkey breast meat contains 29 grams of protein per 100 grams.

So this means that a 25-lb dog should not consume more than a few slices of turkey breast meat daily.

Eating too much turkey meat can be harmful to your dog’s digestive system.

Overdoing it regularly can lead to serious health issues, including pancreatitis which can be fatal to your dog. 

What are the Dog Food Recipes that Contain Turkey?

Want to try making a new homemade dog treat that contains turkey as an ingredient? Here are some delicious treat options you can give to your pet.

  1. Oatmeal Turkey Dog Treats
  2. Sweet Potato and Leftover Turkey Dog Treats
  3. Turkey Jerky Dog Treats

What are the dog food products that contain turkey?

Are you looking to incorporate turkey meat into your pet’s diet? Here are some commercial dog foods that include turkey as the main protein source.

  1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe
  2. CANIDAE All Life Stages Chicken, Turkey, and Lamb Meals Formula
  3. Purina ONE True Instinct with Real Turkey & Venison High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food

If your dog is not quite ready to change his kibble, you might try giving him a tasty commercial treat or turkey-filled meal topper.

You can check out some of these excellent ones.

  1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats Grain-Free Turkey Biscuits Dog Treats
  2. American Journey Turkey Recipe Grain-Free Soft-Baked Dog Treats

Can Dogs Eat Derivatives of Turkey?

While turkey is generally safe for dogs to eat, there are some derivatives of turkey that can be dangerous.

As mentioned, food made for human consumption that features turkey may contain non-dog-friendly ingredients and should be avoided.

If you’re unsure whether a particular turkey dish is safe for your dog, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and avoid feeding it to them.

What diseases in dogs can turkey help?

A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy scratching itself
A fluffy Bernese Mountain Dog puppy scratching itself

You can try giving your dog a little bit of turkey if your dog suffers from allergies to chicken, beef, or lamb, a diet that includes a novel protein like turkey is sometimes recommended.

Again, be sure to discuss your pet’s diet with your vet before making any changes.

What are Other Foods That Dogs Can Eat Similar to Turkey?

While turkey is a common and nutritious food for dogs, there are other options that may better suit your dog’s needs.

For example, if your dog does not fancy turkey or has allergies, you may want to consider alternatives to turkey:

  • Chicken is a lean source of protein that is low in fat and calories, making it an ideal choice for dogs who are watching their weight. It’s also rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which help to keep the skin and coat healthy.
  • Lamb is relatively lean meat. It also offers vitamin B12, niacin, and essential dietary fats. It also provides iron, which aids in blood production.
  • Beef is a good protein source, rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. This meat allows your dog to build muscle all while retaining the benefits of these other nutrients.
  • Duck is a delicious and nutritious source of protein. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to keep your dog’s coat, skin, and immune system healthy. Duck is also a good source of B vitamins, which play a role in energy production and metabolism.
  • Fish is a good source of protein and minerals such as phosphorus, which support proper kidney function, and selenium, which has antioxidant functions. In addition, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help reduce inflammation throughout the body.

So, Can My Dog Eat Turkey?

Your dog can safely eat turkey. That is if it’s cooked, unseasoned, and served plain to your pet.

Be sure to choose the white meat or the turkey breast which is the healthiest part of the turkey as it’s high in protein but lower in fat and cholesterol. 

You also need to avoid turkey bones which can be dangerous to your dog.

Cooked turkey bones have sharp points which can splinter your pet’s gastrointestinal tract and cause internal damage.

Turkey necks and legs are also not advisable as they can pose a choking hazard to your dog and are typically fatty.

Be sure also not to overdo feeding your dog turkey as too much could cause some health risks such as obesity and pancreatitis. 

Does your pup love to eat turkey meat? We’d love to hear all about your furry family member and how he enjoys his turkey in the comment section below.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.