When it comes to deli sandwiches or Thanksgiving leftovers, you may be tempted to share a bite of turkey with your dog, knowing that dogs are meat lovers. But is it safe for dogs to eat turkey?
The quick answer: Yes, plain cooked turkey is safe for dogs to eat.
By itself, cooked, lean turkey is safe to share with dogs, and is even a healthy addition to many dogs’ diets. However, the added spices, fats and trimmings is where you can run into trouble.
Benefits of turkey
Turkey is a common ingredient and key source of protein in many commercial dog foods. Without the skin, turkey meat is low in fat and a good source of iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. Plain, lean meats make healthy snacks for dogs because they are nutritious and full of protein, unlike many commercial dog treats which can contain lots of fillers and be likened to “junk food” for dogs.
Skin and fat: A fatty piece of turkey such as the skin, or meat that has been basted in butter or gravy is not healthy for your dog. Eating fatty meats can cause serious issues, like tummy troubles and even pancreatitis. Stick to lean white meat to keep your pup’s digestive system happy.
Added spices and ingredients: Certain spices can give your dog an upset tummy while others are downright toxic. We like to add salt and pepper to season our foods, but for a dog, too much salt can lead to salt poisoning. Lastly, because garlic and onions are toxic to dogs, cooking turkey with those ingredients makes it unsafe for your dog to eat. For these reasons, plain turkey is the best bet if you want to share a bite with your dog.
Bones: Cooked poultry bones can easily fragment and splinter, leading to sharp edges that can harm your dog’s mouth and cause injury and bleeding anywhere along the digestive tract. Additionally, bones can cause choking or internal obstruction. Bottom line: don’t give turkey bones to your dog.
Moderation: Yes, plain cooked turkey is safe for dogs, but as with all foods, moderation is key. Too much at once can cause tummy troubles, and excess calories will lead to weight gain.
Poultry sensitivity: Some dogs have allergies or sensitivities to poultry, so it must be eliminated completely from their diet. If your dog tends to have food sensitivities, it’s best to start with just a small sample and wait a few hours to see if he experiences any reactions.