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Can dogs eat turkey?

Turkey is a popular meat and can be eaten in all sorts of different ways. Especially during Thanksgiving! There's plenty of recipes to help you get creative with the leftovers, but question that always comes up is, should you feed turkey to your dog? The answer might be a bit more complicated than you think.

Is turkey good for my dog?

Turkey meat isn’t toxic to dogs, but because of the way that humans like to prepare it, turkey leftovers aren’t an ideal snack for your dog. Mostly because we like to eat turkey smothered in butter or oil with seasonings and herbs for flavor.

That version of turkey isn’t appropriate for dogs as these additions can cause digestive problems at best, pancreatitis at worst. In particular, onions or garlic used in turkey stuffing can be toxic to dogs.

However if cooked plain, without the skin or extra fats, turkey meat does have some great advantages for dogs. Turkey is rich in protein but fairly low in fat and contains riboflavin and phosphorus. This is why turkey often makes up the bulk of dog meat, especially if you like to cook your own homemade recipes.

As long as you make sure that you cook your dog’s turkey properly and use a recipe specifically for your dog, there should be no problem in introducing homemade turkey meals to your dog’s diet.

Does turkey have any side effects?

All dogs love a good bone, but like all poultry, turkeys have very brittle bones. This means that they should not be given to dogs as they are likely to break and cause them to choke. Smaller bone fragments may also cause problems further down the digestive tract. The best thing to do is make sure that you always remove all turkey bones before feeding the meat to your dog.

Some dogs may also have an allergic reaction to turkey. While this is quite rare, the allergy can present in a variety of ways including scratching, hair loss, paw biting, skin rashes and vomiting, amongst others. If you notice that your dog is reacting to turkey, stop feeding it to them immediately and give her a cool bath to soothe any rashes.

For more serious reactions, you must take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.

There are also a few pet foods and treats that may contain traces of turkey too. Anything from flavoured toothpastes to pig’s ear treats can contain turkey so do check the label before you give them to your dog.

Are there any alternatives to turkey?

If your dog has an allergic reaction to turkey, he may not necessarily be allergic to all types of protein. Duck is the most often used poultry replacement for turkey but you could also see whether chicken induces the same response.

Chicken is the most likely bird to cause allergic reactions so be cautious about giving your dog chicken if he hasn’t had it before and has shown allergic tendencies. Just start with a small amount to begin with. More exotic birds are less likely to cause allergic reactions however they are also more expensive options.

Turkey recipes to try at home

Turkey and veggies


1 ½ cups of brown rice

1 tablespoon cooking oil

3 pounds of ground turkey

3 cups chopped spinach

2 shredded carrots

1 shredded zucchini

½ cup peas


Boil the rice until cooked, drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in the pan, then add the turkey. Stir slowly for an even cook, breaking up any large chunks of meat.

Add all the veggies and the boiled rice to the pan and continue to cook until the spinach has wilted.

Allow everything to cool before serving and freeze portions for later on.


Turkey treats


1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour

2 ½ cups quick cooking oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup turkey (or chicken) broth

1 ½ cups shredded turkey


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and line a baking sheet.

Stir all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.

Blend the broth and the turkey meat until you have a paste-like consistency - a bit like baby food.

Add the meat mixture to the dry ingredients and use your hands to form a dough.

Roll the dough out and use a cookie cutter (a bone shape is always cute) to form each biscuit.

Place the biscuits onto the baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Allow to cool completely before serving.