Can Dogs Eat Turkey?

 You can find lots of warnings on the Internet telling you that you shouldn’t feed your dog turkey around Thanksgiving because it may cause your dog to have a gastrointestinal upset, or that eating too much rich food can lead to a case of pancreatitis.  This information is true, as far as it goes.  If you suddenly stuff your dog with a lot of turkey and dressing leftovers, you could upset his stomach.  A dog who eats too much rich food, on top of eating his regular dog food, can develop pancreatitis.  But these are problems that can occur any time you overfeed your dog.  Turkey itself is not bad for your dog.  It is a good meat protein and you can add it to your dog’s diet.  Removing the skin from the turkey will reduce the calories considerably.  Many people who feed raw diets or who cook for their dogs give their dogs turkey.

Nutritional information

Turkey is high in meat protein and it is low in fat when the skin is removed.  It is relatively inexpensive to feed, compared to many other meat proteins.  It is a good source of zinc, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium, which are trace minerals your dog needs, and B vitamins.  For humans, a serving of turkey is considered to be two to three ounces, though your dog will need more, depending on his weight.  The white meat in turkey has less fat and calories than the dark meat and the skin.

Based on 3.5 ounce portions, turkey breast with skin has 194 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 29 grams of protein.  Turkey breast without the skin has only 161 calorie, 4 grams of fat, and 30 grams of protein.  A turkey wing with the skin has 238 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 27 grams of protein.  A piece of dark meat with the skin contains 232 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 27 grams of protein.  Dark meat without the skin contains 192 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 28 grams of protein.  3.5 ounces of turkey skin contains 482 calories, 44 grams of fat, and 19 grams of protein.  So, you can see that most of the fat and calories in turkey comes from the skin.

Based on a single serving of breast meat (33 grams or 1.16 ounces), turkey has 16 percent carbs, 14 percent fats, and 70 percent protein.  That’s a lot of good protein for your dog to eat.  Turkey is considered to be mildly inflammatory and it may irritate the stomachs of some dogs so you should watch your dog carefully after feeding turkey initially.

Can dogs eat turkey bones?

Yes, with some caveats.  It is fine to feed your dog raw turkey bones.  Many people like to give their dogs turkey wings.  They are great for your dog’s teeth and most dogs love them.  However, you should not give your dog cooked bones, especially cooked poultry bones.  Cooked bones can splinter and cause punctures in your dog’s esophagus or elsewhere in your dog’s gastrointestinal system.  This can be dangerous.  Raw bones are relatively soft and flexible so your dog can chew them and they won’t hurt him.  But cooked bones can be dangerous.  You also shouldn’t give your dog leg bones. They are particularly prone to splintering.

So, no cooked bones, and no leg bones whether they are cooked or raw.  Otherwise it’s fine to give your dog turkey bones to eat.

How to feed turkey

There are lots of good recipes for homemade dog food that include turkey.  You can make it with brown rice, with pasta, with quinoa or couscous.  Add some steamed or pureed vegetables and some yogurt and your dog should love it.  You can also substitute turkey in recipes that call for chicken.


It is safe to feed your dog turkey.  It is high in protein and low in fat when the skin is removed. The dark meat is higher in calories and fat than the white meat.  You should not stuff your dog with turkey and dressing at Thanksgiving, however, or overfeed him.  You can give your dog raw turkey bones but do not give cooked bones or turkey legs.

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