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The essentials

  • Turkey is a good source of protein — Protein supports the immune system, provides energy, and aids in tissue repair, just to name a few of its incredible benefits.
  • White meat turkey is easy for dogs to digest — White meat turkey is a lean, highly-digestible protein source.
  • Even treat time can have health benefits — Instead of being packed with fillers and artificial ingredients, turkey is a snack that tastes delicious and is healthy, too.

Is turkey a safe treat for your pup?

Generally speaking, plain turkey is a fantastic treat that you and your pup can enjoy together. Before your dog gobbles it up, just make sure it’s free of bones and seasoning. It’s also important to avoid lunch meat because of the high sodium content.

Your dog’s daily calorie requirements are based on factors like their age and size, and there are a few general feeding guidelines that are important to follow. If you’re unsure what’s right for your pup, your veterinarian can help. Keep in mind that treats should make up 10% or less of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Moderation is key.

👉 For reference, a 3-ounce serving of white meat turkey without the skin is 138 calories.

Potential health benefits of turkey

Turkey can be a wonderful addition to your pup’s diet. White meat turkey makes a healthy snack because it’s a lean, highly-digestible protein source that’s packed with nutrients. Keep in mind, though, that dark meat and turkey legs and skin are all higher in fat than white meat.

Nutrients found in turkey

  • Protein. Protein is crucial for your pupper’s overall health. It provides essential amino acids and nitrogen and is a fundamental requirement of a balanced diet.
  • B vitamins. Vitamin B12 assists with enzyme function and is beneficial for your dog’s nervous system and intestinal health.
  • Phosphorus. Phosphorus is essential for healthy teeth and provides your pup with energy.

Potential risks of feeding turkey to your dog

Before introducing any new food into your dog’s diet, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of your veterinarian. Below are a few of the potential risks.

Allergic reactions. Turkey allergies in dogs are rare but possible. Symptoms of food allergies include itchy skin and diarrhea. If your dog develops these symptoms after eating turkey, you should stop giving it to them. If your dog has a known chicken allergy, it‘s recommended to avoid all poultry, including turkey and eggs as well.

Improperly cooked or raw meat. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes feeding raw meat, including poultry, beef, pork, and fish, to dogs because it can make them sick. Raw turkey may contain disease-causing bacteria such as campylobacter, E. coli, and salmonella.

Obstructions. Turkey bones pose the risk of an intestinal blockage. An obstruction requires surgical removal of the substance causing the blockage and can sometimes be fatal.

Intestinal perforations. Cooked turkey bones could cause a perforation, resulting in a hole in the intestines or stomach. This can lead to peritonitis, an inflammation of the lining of the abdomen, which is very serious and can even be fatal.

Digestive upset. Vomiting and diarrhea can be common if a pup ingests too much human food or eats something they’re not used to eating.

Pancreatitis. Skinless white meat is a very lean protein, making it a safe choice for most dogs. If your pet is prone to pancreatitis, which can be a result of too much fat in your dog’s diet, you should contact your vet before feeding turkey to your pooch. Dogs prone to pancreatitis should never be given dark meat or turkey skin because of the high fat content.

Tips for safely feeding turkey to your pupper

Turkey is a safe snack when prepared without seasoning and fats such as butter and oil. Below are some additional tips to try when feeding your pup this food:

Be on the lookout for turkey bonesTurkey bones splinter easily and can be very dangerous for your dog. They pose a choking hazard and can also cause an intestinal blockage or puncture, all of which can be life-threatening.

Pass on pepper and other seasonings — As scrumptious as that fried Thanksgiving turkey breast tastes to you, added oils can lead to digestive upset for your dog. In addition, common ingredients such as onions and garlic are toxic to dogs, so steering clear of table scraps is best. Even though you may prefer a well-seasoned turkey, your dog won’t know the difference!

Skip the skin — Turkey skin should be avoided as it’s high in fat, which can lead to tummy troubles.

Start small  — Any time you introduce a new food to your dog, it’s best to start with a very small amount to see how they do. If they tolerate it, you can gradually increase the amount. But remember: Treats should only make up 10% of your dog’s daily food intake.

Fun alternatives to turkey

In addition to turkey, there are other safe foods that you and your pup can enjoy together. Some of our favs are sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, mangos, and apples, all of which are super easy to give to your pooch. We suggest keeping a bag of mini carrots or sliced apples in the fridge, and when your doggo comes to you for a tasty treat, you’ll have one at the ready! Not only are these fruits and veggies nutritious and delicious, but they’re also a way for you to share a special moment with your best friend.

Frequently asked questions

Can I give my dog a slice of turkey?

Boneless, skinless turkey breast is best for your dog. Deli slices contain high amounts of salt, which can lead to dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How much turkey can I feed my dog?

Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake, so how much is safe for your dog depends on their daily requirements.

Why can’t I give my dog turkey skin?

Turkey skin has a high fat content, which can lead to stomach upset and pancreatitis.

Can dogs have turkey deli slices?

Lunch meat and turkey hot dogs should be avoided because they’re loaded with sodium.

Can turkey upset a dog’s stomach?

If your dog has a turkey allergy, eats too much turkey at once, or consumes turkey skin, they could wind up with a very upset stomach.