Thanksgiving Turkey for Dogs: The Good and The Bad

Can dogs eat it

Written By: Angela Jakeson

Thanksgiving Turkey for Dogs: The Good and The Bad
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Many dog owners ask, “Can my dog eat Thanksgiving turkey?” as the holiday nears. The answer is yes, but Thanksgiving turkey for dogs should be prepared with caution.

Certain parts of this human food can cause serious canine health issues if consumed. Let us discuss the dangers of carelessly feeding Thanksgiving turkey to dogs and learn how it can be safely served to your canine friend.

The Bad in Feeding Thanksgiving Turkey to Dogs

turkey for dogs 7Dogs eating Thanksgiving turkey are in for some health troubles if they consume it without proper guidance. Here are some of the most common dangers associated with allowing dogs to consume this human food carelessly:

1. Choking and Internal Injuries

We frequently encounter the question, “Can dogs have turkey bones?” Raw turkey bones can be safely fed to dogs under their human companions’ supervision. However, cooked turkey bones are not.

If eaten, they can easily splinter into sharp fragments and get stuck in your dog’s throat, resulting in choking.

Cooked turkey bones may potentially cause teeth fracture and mouth lacerations too. Swallowing them may block the digestive tract, leading to fatal intestinal obstruction.

Moreover, the jagged edges of cooked turkey bones may pierce the stomach lining. It puts your pooch in danger of painful intestinal damage and rectal bleeding.

What to do if a dog eats turkey bones? If the turkey bones are raw, your dog is unlikely in grave danger. However, monitoring him for 72 hours is recommended.

Any presence of bones in his stools hints that he has not fully digested the bones. In this case, bring him to the vet for a check-up.

On the other hand, catching dogs eating Thanksgiving turkey bones requires an immediate trip to the vet. Do not induce vomiting, as it increases the risk of esophageal lacerations.

2. Tummy Troubles

Cooking traditional Thanksgiving turkey involves using fatty ingredients such as oil and butter, which can disrupt dogs’ digestive systems.

Excessive consumption can cause stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea in mild cases. At worst, more severe health problems, such as pancreatitis and obesity, might arise.

The turkey skin carries the same dangers to dogs since it is the fattiest part of the Thanksgiving turkey. 100 grams of turkey skin has around 169 calories and 5.5 grams of turkey fat. Thus, it makes sense to skip feeding it to your furry companion.

3. Poisoning Risks

The Thanksgiving turkey is cooked with added ingredients such as spices and seasonings for a flavorful taste. Unfortunately, a few of them are dangerous and toxic to dogs, including:

  • Onion Powder and Garlic Powder

    Both onion and garlic carry a red-blood cell-damaging compound called n-propyl disulfide. It causes the RBCs to burst, which could result in hemolytic anemia in severe cases.

    Dogs experiencing onion or garlic poisoning may suffer from depression, abdominal pains, and kidney damage.

  • Nutmeg

    According to the American Kennel Club, nutmeg contains a toxic substance to dogs known as myristicin. Ingesting large amounts of this spice can affect canines’ heart and neural functions.

    Symptoms such as high blood pressure, abnormally fast heart rate, and seizures may occur.

  • Salt

    Sodium is not inherently poisonous to canines. However, it would cause toxicity if they consumed it in large doses.

    Excess salt intake may induce alarming clinical signs in dogs, such as fever, swollen abdomen, and muscle tremors.

    If your dog has eaten a Thanksgiving turkey seasoned with these dangerous ingredients, contact the pet poison helpline and send him to an emergency veterinarian right away.

The Good in Feeding Thanksgiving Turkey to Dogs

turkey for dogs 1Dog owners do not necessarily need to avoid sharing Thanksgiving turkey with their dogs. This human food has some qualities that can help improve canine health. Here are what makes Thanksgiving turkey good for dogs:

1. Great Protein Source

Thanksgiving turkey is high in animal protein, which carries numerous essential amino acids that are vital for your dog’s body development. They are critical for the healthy formation of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Essential amino acids also promote better tissue repair, a strong immune system, and overall good organ health.

2. Promotes Strong Bones

Thanksgiving turkey provides some amount of phosphorus to dogs. The mineral works along with calcium to enhance bone strength and tooth health in canines.

It has important effects on other body functions of your pooch, such as maintaining healthy kidneys and normal energy metabolism.

3. Improves Skin and Coat Health

Other wonderful health benefits of turkey for dogs are keeping their skin blemish-free and their coat dense and shiny. The magnesium and zinc in this human food are responsible for these health perks.

Maintaining healthy levels of these minerals help lower the chances of dermal issues like skin infections and hair loss from occurring.

4. Alternative to Common Allergy-Inducing Meats

“Is turkey good for dogs with allergies?” is often asked by pawrents. The answer is yes. Turkey is considered a novel protein, meaning it is rarely found in dog food. This makes it less likely to trigger allergic reactions since pooches have not eaten it before.

Turkey can be a substitute for chicken, which ranks as one of the most common food allergens in canines.

White Turkey Meat vs. Dark Turkey Meat

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It is widely debated if white turkey meat is better than dark meat. The argument stems from the differences between their fat content. White meat is low in fat compared to dark meat.

However, the latter mostly contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which are good for the heart. Dark meat also has higher amounts of iron, selenium, and zinc.

In comparison, white meat is low in calories and unhealthy saturated fats but also low in nutrients.

With this in mind, dark turkey meat should not be completely avoided by dog owners. To choose the most suitable type of turkey meat for your pooch, examine his current state of health.

For dogs that need to maintain a slim build or lose weight, stick to sharing only white turkey meat. The same goes for canines with stomach issues like pancreatitis.

On the other hand, dark turkey meat is great for underweight dogs that could benefit from gaining more pounds.

Which Parts of Thanksgiving Turkey Can Be Shared With Dogs?

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1. Can dogs eat cooked turkey?

Yes, Cooked turkey is healthy for dogs when served plain and in small amounts. It is rich in protein and makes a highly digestible bland food for pooches with digestive issues.

2. Can dogs eat smoked turkey bones?

No, smoked turkey bones are dangerous to dogs since they splinter easily. Moreover, they contain preservatives and are heavily seasoned with salt and spices. Feeding them to your pooch will land him in the vet.

3. Can you feed dogs turkey breast?

Yes, turkey breast is the healthiest part of the Thanksgiving turkey for dogs. Made of white meat, it has low amounts of fat, making it a good source of lean protein.

4. Can dogs eat turkey legs?

It is not a good idea to share turkey legs with dogs. They are high in fats and typically cooked without removing the bones. If consumed, turkey bones may cause stomach problems, choking, and intestinal injuries.

Note that the cooking twine that is used to bind turkey legs also pose as a choking hazard to canines. Make sure to discard it properly to prevent your dog from ingesting it out of curiosity.

5. Can dogs eat turkey thighs?

Dogs can eat turkey thighs but in small quantities, as it is composed of dark meat. Letting them indulge in too much of this human food will upset their stomach.

Turkey thighs are unsuitable for canines with digestive issues due to their high-fat content. The same should be done to turkey wings for similar reasons.

6. Can dogs eat ground turkey?

Yes, ground turkey is an excellent source of protein for dogs. It will be healthier for your dog if you make ground turkey at home. This gives you more control over which part of the turkey to use, allowing you to adjust the fat percentage of this human food.

The Healthiest Way to Prepare Thanksgiving Turkey for Dogs

How to cook turkey for dogs during Thanksgiving? Skip adding seasonings and spices when cooking Thanksgiving turkey for dogs. It should be served plain without any stuffing or gravy. Before serving, remove all of its skin and cooked bones.

Remember to be meticulous in picking the type of turkey meat for your pooch. White turkey meat is preferable for dogs that need to slim down or maintain a healthy weight. Underweight canines can benefit more from the darker fatty variety.

That said, always set portion limits no matter the type of turkey meat your dog eats. Only feed him a few slices to ensure he does not suffer from side effects afterward.

Dog-Friendly Thanksgiving Foods

turkey for dogs 9What can dogs have on Thanksgiving? Fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the human foods you can set aside for your dog during Thanksgiving. Here are a couple of healthy food options you can offer to him as holiday dog treats:

  • Pureed pumpkin

    Pureed pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber and nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E. It promotes good digestive health and a strong immune system in dogs.

    Do not confuse pureed pumpkin for pumpkin pie filling. The latter contains ingredients that are toxic to dogs, like nutmeg.

  • Green beans

    Green beans are great for dogs due to their low-calorie content and high nutritional concentrations. They contain plenty of calcium, iron, and magnesium, as well as vitamins A, C, and K.

    However, rather than feeding your dog green beans from the Thanksgiving casserole, serve them to him raw or cooked plain. This way, the vegetables are free from added unhealthy ingredients like oil and salt.

  • Apple

    Save some apples for your pooch before turning them into apple pies. They are enriched with antioxidants such as vitamins A and C, which lower oxidative stress levels by fighting off free radicals. When preparing an apple for your dog, remove the core and seeds.

Dangerous Thanksgiving Food for Dogs

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What Thanksgiving foods should you not feed your dog? Many of the human foods on the Thanksgiving table are off-limits to dogs. These include stuffing, mashed potatoes, and alcohol, and here are the reasons why:

  • Stuffing

    Thanksgiving turkey stuffing is a combination of many dangerous ingredients for dogs. It typically contains onions, garlic, leeks, and chives, which can cause poisoning.

    While other ingredients do not pose toxic risks, they are not beneficial to your dog’s health, such as butter and bread.

  • Mashed Potatoes

    The traditional recipe for Thanksgiving mashed potatoes requires ingredients like onion powder or garlic, which are toxic to dogs.

    Dairy products such as butter and milk are also used, which can upset the digestive systems of lactose-intolerant dogs.

    Dog owners can make dog-friendly mashed potatoes by omitting seasonings and spices. This human food is best served plain to your pet.

    Consider swapping potatoes for sweet potatoes since they offer higher amounts of antioxidants and have lower GI levels.

  • Alcohol

    Any type of alcoholic beverage should never be given to dogs, including nonalcoholic beer, cider, and seltzer. These beverages possess ethanol, which is poorly metabolized in your dog’s system, causing toxicity.

    Spilled liquor during Thanksgiving should be cleaned up immediately to keep your dog from licking it up.