A small dog eating turkey meat from a bowl.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey? Benefits and Cautions for Pet Owners

As a pet owner, you may find yourself wondering whether or not it’s safe to feed your dog turkey. The short answer is yes, dogs can eat turkey, and it can even be a healthy addition to their diet. However, there are some things you should keep in mind before sharing your Thanksgiving leftovers with your furry friend.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits and cautions of feeding turkey to dogs. We’ll explore the nutritional benefits of turkey meat, as well as the potential risks associated with bones and cooked turkey.

We’ll also offer tips on portion control, holiday foods, turkey-based dog food, homemade turkey-based treats, and alternatives for those who prefer vegetarian options.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of whether or not your dog can eat turkey, and how to introduce it into their diet safely.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs can eat turkey in moderation, as it is generally safe for them.
  • Cooked, plain turkey without any seasoning or additives is suitable for dogs.
  • Avoid giving dogs turkey bones, as they can splinter and pose a choking hazard.
  • Turkey skin and fatty parts should also be avoided, as they may cause digestive issues.
  • Before adding turkey to your dog’s diet, consult with a veterinarian to ensure it aligns with their specific health needs and any dietary restrictions they may have.
Three dogs waiting for treats.
Image by Capri Tography from Pixabay

Can Dogs Eat Turkey?

Yes, dogs can eat turkey in moderation. Cooked, plain turkey without bones, skin, or seasoning is generally safe for them. Avoid fatty parts and consult a vet if unsure.

Nutritional Benefits of Turkey for Dogs

Turkey is a great source of protein for dogs. It is lean meat, which means it has a low fat content, making it perfect for dogs who need to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. In addition to protein, turkey is also rich in essential nutrients that are beneficial to a dog’s overall health.

Some of the key nutritional benefits of turkey for dogs include:

NutrientBenefit for Dogs
Vitamin B6Helps to maintain healthy brain function and regulate hormones.
NiacinSupports a healthy coat and skin.
SeleniumActs as an antioxidant and protects cells from damage.

When feeding your dog turkey, it is important to choose plain, roasted, or boiled turkey without any seasoning or added ingredients. This ensures that your dog is getting the full nutritional benefits of the meat without any harmful additives.

Dog-Friendly Turkey Recipes

If you’re interested in incorporating turkey into your dog’s diet beyond plain meat, there are plenty of dog-friendly turkey recipes to choose from. Here is a simple recipe for a homemade turkey and sweet potato dog food:

  1. Cook 2 cups of diced sweet potato until tender.
  2. Cook 1 pound of ground turkey in a separate pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Mix the cooked sweet potato and turkey together in a bowl.
  4. Let the mixture cool and then serve to your dog.

This recipe can be made in larger batches and stored in the refrigerator or freezer for future meals. It’s important to note that any changes to your dog’s diet should be made gradually to avoid stomach upset.

Risks Associated with Feeding Turkey to Dogs

While turkey can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet, there are some risks associated with feeding it to them. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Turkey BonesTurkey bones can splinter and cause harm to your dog’s digestive system, including the throat and intestines. Make sure to remove all bones before giving your dog any turkey.
Cooked TurkeyCooked turkey can contain harmful bacteria like salmonella, so it’s important to make sure the turkey is fully cooked and doesn’t contain any seasonings or other ingredients that are toxic to dogs.

It’s also important to remember that every dog is different and some may have allergies or sensitivities to certain foods, including turkey. If you’re not sure whether your dog can handle turkey, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian.

Portion Control When Feeding Turkey to Dogs

While turkey can be a healthy addition to a dog’s diet, it is important to practice portion control. Too much turkey can lead to digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

The amount of turkey a dog can safely consume depends on their size and weight. As a general rule, dogs should not consume more than 10% of their daily caloric intake from treats or human food, including turkey.

For small dogs, a few small pieces of turkey is sufficient. Larger dogs may be able to consume more, but it is still important to monitor their intake and limit it to a reasonable amount.

A French Bulldog laying on the ground, staring at its owner.
Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Can Dogs Have Turkey on Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a time to indulge in delicious food, and as much as we want to share the feast with our furry friends, we need to be cautious about what we give them. So, can dogs have turkey on Thanksgiving?

The answer is yes, dogs can have turkey, but there are some things to keep in mind. First, make sure the turkey is plain and free from any seasonings, especially those that may be toxic to dogs like garlic or onion powder. Second, don’t give your dog the skin or any fatty pieces, as this can upset their stomach and potentially cause pancreatitis. Lastly, make sure to remove all bones, as cooked bones can splinter and cause serious harm to your dog.

While turkey is safe for most dogs, it’s important to remember that every dog is different. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it may be best to avoid feeding them turkey altogether. Additionally, puppies or dogs who have never had turkey before should be introduced to it slowly and in small amounts to avoid any adverse reactions.

Other holiday foods that are safe for dogs to consume include plain sweet potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin. However, it’s important to remember that these should be given in moderation and should not be mixed with any other harmful ingredients.

In conclusion, dogs can have turkey on Thanksgiving as long as it is plain, boneless, and given in moderation. Keep in mind your dog’s individual needs and avoid any seasonings, fatty pieces, or bones. With these precautions, your furry friend can enjoy a small taste of the holiday feast without any harm.

Turkey-Based Dog Food

Turkey-based dog food is a popular choice for pet owners who want to provide their dogs with a high-quality, nutritious diet. Turkey is a lean protein source that is rich in essential nutrients, making it an excellent ingredient for dog food.

In addition to being a good source of protein, turkey is also rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential for your dog’s health. These include B vitamins, phosphorus, and selenium. Turkey also contains amino acids that help to support muscle growth and repair.

Benefits of Turkey-Based Dog FoodCautions of Turkey-Based Dog Food
  • Lean protein source
  • Rich in essential nutrients
  • Supports muscle growth and repair
  • May contain additives or preservatives
  • May not be appropriate for dogs with certain dietary restrictions or allergies

When choosing a turkey-based dog food for your pet, it is important to look for high-quality options that are free from additives and preservatives. Additionally, if your dog has any dietary restrictions or allergies, it is important to consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to their diet.

Overall, turkey-based dog food can provide a range of health benefits for your pet, and is a great option for pet owners who want to ensure that their dog is getting the nutrition they need to live a happy, healthy life.

Turkey-Based Dog Food Recipes

If you’re interested in preparing your dog’s food at home, incorporating turkey into their diet is a great option. Here are some homemade dog food recipes that include turkey:

Turkey and Sweet Potato Dog Food Recipe
Servings: About 20 cups
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  1. In a large pot, cook the ground turkey over medium heat until browned.
  2. Add the carrots and green beans and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked brown rice, sweet potato, and olive oil. Stir until well-combined.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool before serving to your dog. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Another recipe to try is:

Turkey and Quinoa Dog Food Recipe:

Mix together 1 pound cooked ground turkey, 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup cooked carrots, and 1/2 cup cooked green beans. Serve to your dog once cooled and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

When making homemade dog food, it’s important to make sure your dog is receiving a balanced diet that includes all of the necessary nutrients. Consult with your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet.

A white and tan puppy getting a treat from its owner.
Photo by Ayla Verschueren on Unsplash

Turkey-Based Treats for Dogs

If you’re looking for a way to incorporate turkey into your dog’s treats, there are plenty of homemade options to try. Homemade treats can be a healthier and more affordable option than store-bought treats, and they allow you to control the ingredients your dog is consuming.

Note: Always consult with your vet before introducing new foods to your dog’s diet, including homemade treats. Some dogs may have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients.

Here are a few turkey-based treat recipes your dog is sure to love:

Turkey and Sweet Potato Jerky
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 200°F for 2-3 hours, or until the jerky is dry and crispy. Cut into small pieces and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Note: If you prefer to use a dehydrator instead of an oven, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times and temperatures.

Another tasty treat option is turkey meatballs:

Turkey Meatballs
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Roll the mixture into small meatballs and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked. Let cool before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Note: Always make sure the meatballs are fully cooked before serving them to your dog.

When making homemade treats, it’s important to avoid ingredients that can be harmful to dogs, such as chocolate, raisins, and onions. Stick to dog-friendly ingredients and always supervise your dog while they’re enjoying their treats.

Alternatives to Turkey-Based Dog Food and Treats

If you are looking for alternatives to turkey-based dog food and treats, there are many other options available to you. Some pet owners prefer to avoid meat-based diets altogether and opt for vegetarian or vegan dog food. These diets can be healthy for dogs as long as they are properly balanced and provide all the necessary nutrients. Some vegetarian dog food brands include V-Dog and Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula.

Another alternative is to feed your dog a diet based on a different protein source. Some popular protein sources for dog food include chicken, beef, and fish. You can also find exotic protein sources like venison or bison. Just be sure to choose a high-quality dog food that provides all the necessary nutrients for your dog’s unique needs.

If you are looking for homemade options, you can try making dog food or treats using other types of meat. Some popular options include chicken, beef, and fish. You can also make vegetarian dog treats using ingredients like sweet potato, pumpkin, or peanut butter.

It’s important to remember that any changes to your dog’s diet should be made gradually. Introduce new foods slowly and in small amounts to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach. And always consult with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet.

Tips for Introducing Turkey to a Dog’s Diet

Introducing new foods into your dog’s diet, such as turkey, should be done gradually to avoid any digestive issues or allergies. Here are some tips to help you introduce turkey to your dog:

  1. Start with small amounts: Begin by giving your dog a small amount of turkey to see how they react to it. If they have no adverse reactions, you can gradually increase the amount over time.
  2. Limit seasoning: Plain, cooked turkey is best for dogs. Avoid seasoning the turkey with spices or herbs that can cause an upset stomach.
  3. Remove the skin and bones: Turkey skin is high in fat and can cause digestive issues. Additionally, turkey bones can splinter and cause choking or damage to your dog’s digestive tract.
  4. Mix with your dog’s regular food: You can mix small amounts of cooked turkey with your dog’s regular food to make the transition easier. Make sure to adjust the amount of regular food to account for the added turkey.
  5. Watch for signs of allergies: Keep an eye out for any signs of allergic reactions, such as itching, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your dog shows any signs of an allergic reaction, stop feeding them turkey and consult with your veterinarian.
  6. Avoid feeding turkey to puppies: Puppies have sensitive digestive systems and introducing new foods too early can cause health issues. It’s best to wait until they are a bit older before introducing turkey into their diet.
A beautiful black puppy eating a treat.
Photo by Nick & Djalila on Unsplash

Conclusion: Can Dogs Eat Turkey?

While dogs can eat turkey, it’s important for pet owners to be aware of the potential benefits and risks associated with feeding turkey to their furry friends. On the one hand, turkey can be a nutritious addition to a dog’s diet, providing protein, vitamins, and minerals. On the other hand, there are risks associated with feeding dogs cooked turkey, especially if the turkey contains bones or seasoning that could be harmful to dogs.

When it comes to incorporating turkey into a dog’s diet, it’s important to do so in moderation and with caution. Pet owners should be mindful of portion sizes and avoid feeding their dogs too much turkey, especially around the holidays when there may be an abundance of tempting treats for dogs to eat. Additionally, pet owners should take care to introduce turkey to their dog’s diet gradually, especially if the dog has not been exposed to turkey before.

Ultimately, the decision to feed a dog turkey will depend on the individual dog’s needs and circumstances. Pet owners should consult with their veterinarian before making any significant changes to their dog’s diet. By considering the potential benefits and risks of feeding turkey to their dog, pet owners can make informed decisions about their dog’s nutrition and health.


Can Dogs Eat Cooked Turkey?

Yes, dogs can eat cooked turkey in moderation. However, it is important to remove the bones and skin, as these can pose a choking hazard or lead to digestive issues. Additionally, avoid seasoning the turkey with any spices or herbs that may be harmful to dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey Bones?

No, dogs should not eat turkey bones. Bones, especially cooked ones, can splinter and cause blockages or tears in a dog’s digestive system. Bone fragments can also get stuck in a dog’s throat and cause choking. It is best to avoid feeding bones to dogs altogether.

What Are Some Signs of Turkey Allergies in Dogs?

Signs of turkey allergies in dogs may include itchiness, redness or swelling of the skin, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms after eating turkey, it may be best to avoid feeding turkey to your pet altogether and seek veterinary advice.

Can Puppies Eat Turkey?

Yes, puppies can eat turkey in moderation. It is important to introduce new foods slowly and in small amounts to avoid digestive upset. Additionally, make sure the turkey is boneless and cooked thoroughly to prevent any health issues.

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Turkey Bones?

If your dog eats turkey bones, monitor them closely for any signs of choking, vomiting, or difficulty passing stool. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, seek veterinary attention immediately. It is best to avoid feeding bones to dogs altogether to prevent such incidents from happening.

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