Feeding your dog turkey – a complete guide

Can dogs have turkey?

Can dogs eat turkey? Yes, dogs can eat turkey and it is a fantastic way of adding a good source of protein to their diet. 

However, there are hundreds of different ways that turkey can be served, including ground turkey, turkey sausages, and turkey slices. Some of these options might not be the best choices to offer to dogs.

Let’s explore the different ways that turkey can benefit our furry buddies, as well as the types of pre-prepared turkey that should be avoided. 

Table of Contents

Is turkey good for dogs?

Yes, turkey is good for dogs as long as it is freshly cooked and no additional seasonings have been added, such as salt and pepper. 

Turkey for dogs is actually considered to be a superfood as it is low fat, easy to digest, and highly nutritious containing vitamins and minerals that help to maintain health and vitality! 

Some benefits of turkey include:

Protein is essential for dogs in order to maintain a healthy and well-functioning body system. Protein is the building blocks for muscles, as well as containing essential amino-acids. Amino acids help to build skin, tendons, nails and hair.

Turkey contains low levels of fat, making it an ideal food source for dogs who suffer from pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a painful and potentially life-threatening condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed.

Magnesium helps to supply our dog’s cells with plenty of energy in order to function correctly. A dog’s organs, such as the liver and gastrointestinal system also require magnesium to help keep their bodily functions in check.

Phosphorus helps to support a dog’s body by working in conjunction with calcium.

This supports the health of their bones and teeth by helping to maintain their strength, therefore, helping to avoid fractures.

Turkey can be great for dogs that have food allergies or intolerances. Reactions to turkey from dogs who have food allergies are minimal, making it a great source of protein for dogs that suffer from a dietary ailment.

Can dogs have turkey? - FAQs

1. Is turkey bad for dogs?

No, turkey is not bad for dogs as long as it has been freshly cooked with no harmful seasonings or ingredients that pose a risk to them. 

Turkey can be bad for dogs if it has been pre-prepared or contains high levels of preservatives.

Suggested reading: Dog-friendly herbs & spices guide

2. Can dogs eat deli turkey?

No, dogs should not be allowed to eat deli turkey. Deli turkey normally contains high levels of sodium, excessive fats, and additional flavorings or seasonings.

If a large amount of deli turkey has been eaten by your dog, seek advice from your veterinary surgeon. Symptoms can occur such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Polydipsia (excessive drinking)
  • Polyuria (excessive urination)
  • Dehydration
  • Ataxia (loss of coordination)
  • Seizures

Deli turkey usually contains:

High levels of sodium – Increased sodium levels in a dog’s body can cause a multitude of health problems for our dogs. High levels of sodium can cause rapid dehydration. This can then lead to severe symptoms such as seizures, tremors or even brain damage.

High levels of fat – A sudden increase of fat in a dog’s diet can potentially cause pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a painful condition that affects the pancreas organ, due to it becoming inflamed from increased levels of fat within the body.

Continued consumption of foods that contain high levels of fat can also lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Additional seasonings – Deli turkey can contain additional flavorings and seasonings. Not only could these seasonings include even more sodium, but they could also include toxic ingredients such as garlic.

If you are worried about your dog after they have eaten deli turkey, contact your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.

3. Can dogs eat turkey slices?

No, dogs should not eat turkey slices. Similar to deli turkey, turkey slices for sandwiches can contain high levels of sodium and additional flavorings that could be toxic if ingested.

Suggested reading: Can dogs eat pepperoni?

4. Can dogs eat turkey lunch meat?

No, turkey lunch meat should not be eaten by dogs. Similar to turkey slices and deli turkey, it is likely that preservatives, such as sodium, will have been added.

Whilst a small amount of deli turkey, turkey slices or turkey lunch meat might not cause any significant problems, repeated ingestion may cause serious health problems.

5. Can dogs eat turkey sausage?

No, dogs should not eat turkey sausage. It is likely that turkey sausage contains toxic ingredients, such as onions and garlic. If turkey sausage is eaten by your dog, no matter how much, speak with your veterinary surgeon for advice.

6. Can dogs eat ground turkey?

Yes, dogs can eat ground turkey. Is ground turkey good for dogs? Yes it is! Finally – some turkey that dogs can eat!

Ground turkey should not be seasoned and can be cooked in a small amount of water instead of oil. It also may be beneficial to drain any fat away before offering it to your dog.


Suggested reading: Can dogs eat chicken liver?

7. Can dogs eat turkey bones?

No, dogs should not ingest turkey bones. Bones from poultry are very brittle and can splinter or crack. This could not only cause trauma to a dog’s mouth, but if swallowed, could cause problems within the gastrointestinal system. Bone fragments can be sharp which may cause a perforation to the stomach and intestines. A perforation is where a sharp object can puncture or break through a lining of an organ. If a turkey bone or another object is eaten that does not belong in a pooch’s stomach, this is known as a foreign body. Symptoms of foreign body ingestion include:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Little to no fecal output
  • Abdominal bloat
If you are worried that your dog has eaten a foreign object, contact your veterinary surgeon immediately. Abdominal bloat is a serious problem, especially in large-breed dogs. If you notice abdominal bloat and unproductive vomiting, contact your veterinary practice as soon as possible.

8. Should dogs eat turkey?

Yes, dogs should eat turkey if it is prepared in the correct way. If you are not currently offering your dog turkey then do not panic! It does not mean that you need to run to the grocery store and stock up on all of the turkey products.

A good quality dog food should contain all of the goodness that our dogs require, so further supplementation with meat, such as turkey, should not be required.

Raw turkey can be purchased, including turkey mince, that you can prepare at home. It should not be pre-marinated or come with ingredients such as garlic, leeks or onions, as these are toxic to dogs.

Turkey meat should not be purchased on the bone. If that is all that is available, ensure to remove all bones before offering it to your dog after cooking.

The best way to cook turkey for your dog is to oven bake the meat. Ensure that it is cooked all the way through and has no pink areas. The juices that come from the cooked meat should be clear, with no signs of red or pinkness.

Do not season the turkey with salt or pepper or add any dog-unfriendly herbs or spices.

If you have purchased turkey mince to cook for your dog, the easiest way to cook this would be in a frying pan. Do not use any oil in the frying pan. The best option would be to use a small amount of water to help cook the meat fully.

9. Can puppies eat turkey?

Yes, puppies can also eat turkey meat and it offers the same benefits that it does for adult dogs. Keep in mind that a puppies stomach can be more sensitive, so offer new foods in small amounts.

Take extra care to cook turkey for puppies completely, as this will avoid unwanted episodes of vomiting and diarrhea due to the meat being undercooked.

10. What is turkey meat?

Turkey is cooked meat that comes from the turkey bird. Turkeys are often bred for meat consumption and is traditionally eaten for Thanksgiving and for Christmas dinner. 

Turkey can be served in a variety of different ways and flavored depending on cuisine. It is a versatile meat that can be compared to the texture and similar flavor of chicken.

Suggested reading: How many treats can my dog have a day?

Is turkey safe for dogs? Final thoughts

Turkey can be a great addition to a dog’s diet. It offers high levels of protein as well as providing them with magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. 

Turkey can be a great option for dogs who suffer from gastrointestinal problems or allergies.

Turkey can also be good for dogs who suffer from pancreatitis due to its low-fat content. By offering turkey to a dog with pancreatitis, you can avoid overloading the pancreas with excess fats.

If you want to add turkey to your dog’s diet, ensure that you purchase ground turkey or fresh turkey meat. Avoid products that have already been prepared, such as deli turkey or lunch meat turkey, as it is likely that it contains high levels of sodium and preservatives.

As always, you should exercise caution when introducing any new food to your dog’s diet. If your dog has any adverse reactions following turkey ingestion, speak with your veterinary surgeon immediately.

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