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Can Dogs Eat Turkey? When is Turkey Bad for Dogs?

Can Dogs Eat Turkey

It’s the morning after Thanksgiving, and you have heaps of turkey leftovers waiting to be devoured. And lo and behold, as you gather the ingredients for your turkey sandwich, and other turkey meat recipes, your dog is there wagging his tail and looking at you with his begging eyes.

What would you do? Would you share a bit of your holiday meal with your pup? But, can dogs eat turkey?

As pet parents, we often give some human foods to our dogs. So, this time, it’s pretty much the same and you should know the drill on how to do it safely.

You can give your dog turkey for his snack or dinner, but definitely not from your turkey roast during Thanksgiving.

Why? Well, apparently, Thanksgiving turkeys are rubbed, soaked, and stuffed with ingredients that are toxic to our canine companions.

When giving turkey meat to your pup, just keep it plain and simple – no seasonings, spices, and other ingredients that can be harmful to him, such as garlic and onions. Also, don’t give your dog turkey skin and bones. Find out why later in this article.

To us, feasting on this special bird meal is a delightful treat, but for our dogs, it can be a recipe for disaster.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey? Is It Good for Them?

Turkey is considered an essential ingredient in the diet of many dogs. And with its high protein content, no wonder there are plenty of dog owners who rely on it as their dogs’ lean protein source.

Moreover, the protein from turkey’s white meat is also highly digestible, so dogs’ digestive system doesn’t have to strain so much. As a result, the risks for indigestion, bloating, and stomach upsets are also decreased.

Just like chicken, the lean white meat of turkey helps dogs in building muscles. And turkey is an excellent alternative for dogs with sensitivities or food allergies to chicken, beef, and other meat products.

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If your pup has allergies, it’s still best to talk with your vet, though there’s a high chance that he may recommend turkey-based dog food for your pooch.

Turkey is also a common ingredient in a lot of commercially sold dog foods and treats that you can easily purchase in a pet store near you.

So, if you are having second thoughts on how to add turkey into your dog’s menu, but you still want him to enjoy the benefits of this meat, then, consider buying dog foods with turkey as the main ingredient.

Commercial pet foods with the term “turkey meal” on their label use a rendered type of turkey meat with higher protein and lesser water than fresh turkey.

When you encounter this term, don’t be alarmed. This is a perfectly acceptable form of protein and offers your dog plenty of benefits.

Finally, if you want to feed your dog some fresh, cooked turkey, make sure to remove the skin, which is high in fat, and usually absorbs a lot of the added seasonings and spices if there are.

Once again, giving your pup plain turkey meat without skin and bones is non-negotiable.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey? When is Turkey Bad for Dogs? 1

Benefits of Turkey Meat for Dogs

Turkey is not toxic to dogs, and it is packed with essential nutrients that can help with your pup’s overall health, growth, and development.

Turkey is rich in protein and low in fats; so, it can be a perfect addition to your dog’s diet, especially when he is fighting obesity, and trying to replace his fat weight with muscle weight.

Turkey is also loaded with riboflavin and phosphorus. Vitamin B2 or riboflavin helps in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates into energy, so they can be used by the body in performing its daily functions.

In addition, riboflavin also plays a vital role in the body’s cellular respiration, particularly in producing the red blood cells that carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

The phosphorus content in turkeys helps promote the overall health of the kidneys, so it can efficiently do its function which includes the flushing of urine and toxins outside of the body through urine. This, in turn, helps in promoting a dog’s optimum level of functioning.

Not only that, but phosphorus also plays an important role in muscle contractions, which in turn, help dogs with their motor functions.

This includes helping a dog with his ability to exercise, run, jump, and implement verbal commands by their owners. Also, phosphorus aids in keeping a dog’s heart rate at normal levels.

When is Turkey Bad for Dogs?

Unless your dog is allergic to turkey, he would just be fine munching on this nutritious white meat. However, no matter how tasty and healthy this treat is for your pup, you should not overwhelm him with plenty of turkey meat all day.

A word of advice, if it’s your dog’s first time eating turkey, make sure to only give a small amount and observe his reaction thereafter. Just like any food that is not part of his regular diet, your pup may show untoward reactions.

It’s better to stay on the safe side by only giving him a small amount first. Hence, just in case he exhibits unusual symptoms such as tummy pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, the side effects won’t be that severe, and he won’t be affected that much.

Also, turkey’s nutritional benefits won’t matter if you are going to season the meat with salt, soy sauce, spices, and mix with other toxic ingredients. At the end of the day, the dangers will far outweigh the benefits.

Similarly, giving your dog turkey skin is also risky since this is a fatty part, and it also absorbs most of the additives just in case there are.

Giving your dog foods that are rich in fat can also jeopardize your dog’s pancreas, causing pancreatitis and other complications. So, for your pup’s health and safety, just give him plain turkey meat without skin and bones.

There are different ways to make turkey more appealing for your pup. For instance, you can follow several turkey recipes for dogs online, make or buy frozen turkey treats, or sprinkle ground turkey on top of your pup’s favorite dog food.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey? When is Turkey Bad for Dogs? 2

Can You Give Your Dog Turkey Bones?

Bones from birds especially cooked poultry bones from duck, chicken, and turkey are delicate. Hence, these bones could be a potential choking hazard, and they may cause internal bleeding and/or blockages as they can easily splinter inside the body.

Veterinarians are cautious about giving any kind of bones to dogs to prevent the occurrence of any of the following problems:

  • Mouth and tongue injuries
  • Throat or intestinal tract obstruction
  • Choking
  • Internal bleeding since the bones can splinter and poke the lining of the stomach and the intestines
  • Rectal bleeding from the sharp edges of the bone fragments
  • Blockages that may even require emergency surgery
  • Constipation

If you want your dog to munch on bones, you can buy a hard nylon toy, or chew toy bones that are specially designed for dogs. Also, when buying one, you can invest in a long-lasting chewy bone that is durable and helpful with the dental cavity.

Or you can purchase something long-lasting and digestible. Some of these edible toys are flavored, and you won’t have to worry about your pup’s health and safety.

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How to Safely Feed Your Dog Turkey?

Whether it’s for Thanksgiving or just an ordinary day, you can go on and reward your pooch with healthy and tasty turkey meat for snacks or dinner.

However, as mentioned in this article, there are safety guidelines that you need to observe to prevent the occurrence of potential health issues. Let’s take a look at these safety tips once again:

  1. Make sure to only feed your dog plain turkey meat. Don’t add salt, soy sauce, spices, sugar, and other toxic ingredients. Onions have a popular reputation as toxic ingredients for dogs, while garlic can also be harmful when consumed in huge quantities. And while sugar is not toxic, your pup won’t taste it anyway, and it would just put him at risk for diabetes, and obesity.
  2. Save the skin for yourself and save your dog from ailments and complications. Your best choice is to give him the lean meat of the turkey or the “white meat.” So, you should also avoid frying the turkey because it will just add unwanted fat to your pup’s diet. And as mentioned earlier, the skin is also rich in fat. So, the combined high-fat content both in the skin and the oil could just increase your dog’s chance of having pancreatitis. In addition, the skin also acts as a sponge of all the seasonings and spices that you add while marinating and cooking.
  3. If it’s your dog’s first time eating turkey, it would be better to ask your vet’s expert advice, especially if your pup has an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes.
  4. Give turkey meat in moderation, especially if it’s your dog’s first time. This can help prevent unwanted side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
  5. Finally, make sure to remove the bones before giving the turkey meat to your dog.
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Final Thoughts

Turkey is healthy and highly nutritious meat for dogs. So, clearly, you can feed it to your dog. In fact, a lot of commercially sold dog foods and dog treats have turkey in them, either as scraps or as the primary ingredient.

This only shows that turkey is safe for dogs, and it can even serve as an excellent protein source for dogs with allergies to beef, chicken, and other meat products.

And of course, giving turkey to your pup is an exciting and healthy way to add variation to his diet. This way, he won’t easily get bored with his meals and he would feel your love and affection even more.

Bonus Recipes

Hang on, there's more! We have included oh-so-yummy easy Turkey recipes below that would surely make your pup wag its tail and and lick you in delight!

Can Dogs Eat Turkey? When is Turkey Bad for Dogs? 4

Turkey and Veggie Dog Food Recipe

Gale Compton
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Calories 176 kcal


  • 2 lbs Lean ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp Chicken liver finely diced
  • 2 Medium carrots coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Green beans diced
  • 1 cup Cauliflower florets
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil


  • Add 1 1/2 cups water to a double boiler, place vegetables in a steam basket over the pot and cover.
  • Heat until boiling, reduce heat to a low-boil and steam until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, add the turkey and liver to a large skillet and cook on medium-high heat until done. Drain off any fat and discard. Chop veggies or pulse in a food processor. Add veggies to cooked turkey.
  • Add the olive oil and toss with turkey & veggie mixture. Allow to cool before dividing into freezer safe containers.


Freezer-safe bags are great for freezing individual meals. Before tossing them into the freezer, make sure to label each bag with the date of preparation and name of the meal. The serving size for each meal will depend on the breed and weight of your dog.
Check with your vet regarding how much to feed your dog on a daily basis. Always allow time to defrost each meal in the refrigerator the night before serving.
can dogs eat raspberries

Raspberry Turkey Dog Treat Recipe

Doggy Dessert Chef
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins


  • oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Parchment paper


  • 1 cup Cooked and chopped Turkey
  • 1/2 cup Raspberries chopped
  • 1 tsp Chopped Rosemary
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients, mixing until well combined.
  • Once dough is well mixed roll dough into 1/2 inch balls and place them a inch apart onto the prepared baking sheet. Press down on the tops with a fork to flatten.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, turn off oven and allow to cool inside with door slightly open. Refrigerate.
  • Makes 1 to 2 dozen rounds
Can Dogs Eat Turkey? When is Turkey Bad for Dogs? 5

DIY Homemade Dog Food

Elizabeth Van Lierde
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins


  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 lbs Ground turkey
  • 3 medium Sweet potatoes
  • 3 Carrots peeled
  • 2 Zucchini squash
  • 1 cup Broccoli florets
  • 1 cup Cabbage minced
  • 1/2 cup Lettuce minced
  • 3 cups Chicken stock or water (no salt added)
  • 20 oz Macaroni noodles


  • In a large Dutch oven, heat oil on medium heat. Add ground turkey, begin to break it down, and cook for 8-10 minutes or until mostly cooked through.
  • With a food processor finely chop sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, broccoli. Add in vegetables and stock to turkey.
  • Add in the chopped vegetables and cook on a strong simmer for 7-8 minutes or until veggies are tender and cooked through.
  • Mix in your cooked pasta noodles to the turkey vegetable mixture. 
  • Portion out meals accordingly. For every 10 lbs is roughly 1 cup of food per meal. Example: If you have a 20 lb dog they will eat 1-1.5 cups of the batch per meal (2-2.5 cups total per day).


Slow Cooker: Yes you can make homemade dog food in a slow cooker. Add in all the ingredients and cook on high for 4 hours. This does cook down some of the nutrients as the mixture cooks longer but it is can be an easier cooking method depending on your kitchen/time. 

Will cooked turkey hurt my dog?

The seasoning added to cooked turkey can irritate your dog's bowels and cause digestive issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Turkey is often seasoned with garlic and onions, both of which are toxic to dogs.

Can dogs get sick from Turkey?

Gastrointestinal distress is also a side effect of turkey consumption for our dogs. It is not uncommon for dogs who ingest turkey to suffer with diarrhea, cramps, and vomiting.

Is chicken or turkey better for dogs?

So if your dog suffers from an acute or chronic inflammatory condition, there are those that feel that turkey is a better protein than chicken as turkey won't exacerbate any inflammation already in the body. It should be noted, though, that chicken is the most common food allergen in dogs.

Can dogs chew on cooked turkey bones?

Cooked bones from any animal should never be given to your dog, but especially turkey bones or chicken bones. Any kind of cooked bone will splinter when your dog chews on it. Turkey bones and chicken bones are especially brittle, and will break into small, sharp pieces when they are chewed.

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