Illustrations of turkeys on a beige background

Health & Wellness

Can dogs eat turkey?

Yes (as long as it’s completely plain).

The table is set, the family has gathered around and you’re carrying the turkey centerpiece to the Thanksgiving table. Your drooling dog is trailing closely behind you, and can you blame them? Not only is there a savory, delicious scent in the air, but there are endless leftover opportunities. Before slicing your dog a piece of turkey, though, make sure to follow our tips.

(Even though turkey is generally safe for dogs, you should always consult your vet before introducing new foods to your pet’s diet.)

Is turkey good for dogs?

Turkey, when served properly, is a good treat alternative for dogs, as it’s rich in protein. While the following benefits of turkey are great to incorporate into your pup's diet, occasional bites here and there aren't enough to drastically improve their well-being:

  • Riboflavin: promotes healthy enzymes and helps metabolism
  • Protein: provides an energy source and building block for muscles
  • Phosphorus: maintains healthy teeth and bones

Is turkey bad for dogs?

It’s important to monitor the amount of turkey your pup’s eating. Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories. Your veterinarian can help you determine proper portions based on your pet's specific needs.  

RELATED: Can dogs eat popcorn?

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What types of turkey can dogs eat?

Skip adding seasonings, oil, butter or gravy when serving your dog turkey, and don’t serve it with other vegetables that may be unsafe for them to eat (like onions). Turkey can be slightly fatty, so serve this snack in moderation and in small amounts. Serve the turkey without the skin, too, as it has a high-fat content.

Remove any turkey bones before serving this meat to your pup, as they could be a choking hazard and can cause several health issues, like gum damage from splintering and upset stomach. If you think your dog is choking on a turkey bone, look out for pawing at the mouth, gagging or retching, coughing, turning blue, silence or collapsing. When a dog is choking, it’s important to act fast. In an effort to remove the object, swipe their throat using your finger and perform the Heimlich maneuver — you may need to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), too. Read our article to learn how to act fast in emergency pet choking situations.

When introducing your dog to new foods, it’s important to have an emergency preparedness plan, so you can act fast in case they have a bad reaction. Here are some quick steps to get you started:

  • Write down the address and phone number of your nearest animal emergency room.
  • Post the Pet Poison Helpline number (855-764-7661) in a convenient location and save the number to your phone’s contact list.
  • Keep a pet first aid kit in your car and house.
  • Organize and have all of your pets’ medical records and vaccination information handy.

Can dogs eat raw turkey?

Talk to your vet before serving your dog raw turkey. There is bacteria in uncooked turkey that can sometimes cause upset stomachs in dogs.

Can dogs eat turkey bacon?

It’s best to avoid serving your dog turkey bacon because it usually contains a lot of salt, flavoring and added preservatives.

Can dogs eat turkey sausage?

Like turkey bacon, skip serving your dog turkey sausage because of the high salt content, flavoring and added preservatives.

Can dogs eat turkey deli slices?

Since sliced deli turkey often has preservatives and added salt, which is unhealthy for dogs, it’s best to avoid giving it to your pup.

Happy snacking

Knowing all of these tips will allow your dog to safely get in on Thanksgiving (or any day, really) turkey fun.

We're confident that turkey isn’t the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series "Can dogs eat … ?" to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what's fair game.

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