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By: Kayla Kowalski, Certified Canine Nutritionist

Get your pup in on the Thanksgiving festivities, and give them another reason to be thankful! Turkey is one of the leanest protein sources available, making it a yummy treat and great addition to the diet of most dogs. 

Giving your dog fresh, nutrient-packed turkey as part of their balanced diet is great for their overall wellness. In fact, the only reason not to consider turkey for your pup would be if they have an intolerance or allergy to it.

Can my dog eat turkey bones?

Now you’re probably wondering, are dogs able to eat AND digest bones?! Well, yes! Dogs have adapted to have much more acidic stomachs than you or I. Raw bones go down like a treat.

Feeding raw bones is a great way to increase your pup's calcium intake, and chewing bones can help scrape off tartar, naturally brushing their teethFor another option, give your dog a long-lasting Yak Chew.

How to safely give turkey bones to your dog

How to safely give turkey bones to your dog

It is important to select the right bone portions. I recommend:

  • Raw turkey necks
  • Raw turkey wing tips + wingettes

These bones can be broken down by your dog's teeth and digested. Larger bones, such as turkey drumsticks, should be avoided.

It is imperative to only give your dog raw turkey bones, as cooked bones are brittle and easily splinter when chewed. These sharp bone fragments are a choking hazard and may cause blockages or damage the digestive tract, resulting in an emergency trip to the vet.

Now, we may spend hours flavoring, roasting, and basting the turkey for ourselves, however, our furry friends don’t need this same degree of preparation. Ingredients such as onion, raisins, or large amounts of salt included in stuffings can be toxic to dogs. So skip the seasonings; trust me, they won't miss out.

Turkey bones are much larger than other poultry options, such as chicken or duck, and are, therefore, much more suited to larger mouths. Because of their size, I mainly recommend raw turkey bones for large-breed dogs.

I always recommend holding your dog's raw bones to ensure they are eating them properly and not biting off more than they can chew.

What should you do if your dog eats a cooked turkey bone

If your pup sniffs out some thanksgiving scraps or *ahem* insists on helping clear the dinner table, don't panic! If we rush towards them, they may also panic and forcefully swallow the rest of the bone, risking choking. Try your best to stay level-headed and use your best judgment.

Always call an emergency vet if your pup shows any signs of distress. However, if they are behaving normally, I recommend monitoring them closely for the following 72 hours. Keep them well-rested and offer soft food & plenty of fluids during this time to help their digestive system do its thing. 

Signs to look out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Lack of appetite
  • Any stomach pain
  • Little-to-no stools being passed
  • Any straining to pass stools
  • Diarrhea, bloody or tarry stools
  • Lethargy or reduced energy levels

If you have any concerns, please contact a vet.

Other turkey parts to feed your dog and how

Other turkey parts to feed your dog and how

Turkey guts

When buying whole turkeys, you’ll usually find the turkey “guts” tucked in a little bag inside the turkey, alongside the turkey neck. These can add a lot of value to your pup's diet, so think twice before putting them in the trash (or consider sharing if you eat them yourself).

  • Turkey liver – turkey liver is considered one of the highest sources of vitamin A, ranking well above other meat, dairy, or fish sources.
  • Turkey heart – contains high levels of B vitamins and taurine, which are great for your dog’s heart health.
  • Turkey gizzards – this muscular organ is a great source of extra protein.

As always, I recommend introducing any new foods slowly. This allows your pup's digestive system time to adjust and avoids gassy bellies or diarrhea. Organs are very nutrient-dense, so, as a general rule, I recommend adding these as no more than 5% of your dog's diet. 

A high-quality probiotic supplement, such as Native Pet's probiotic powder, is a great addition to keep your pup's stomach settled and supported to break down and utilize all this new goodness. A natural fiber source, such as Native Pet's pumpkin powder, is also a great option for keeping your fur baby's digestive system moving smoothly.

Muscle meat

Of course, we can’t forget about the turkey meat itself! 

As well as being a great lean protein source, turkey meat is also high in iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. 

Turkey meat can be fed raw or lightly cooked. The best way to cook turkey is by lightly steaming. Other great options are baking at 320F (or below) and poaching the meat in boiling water to avoid additional fats or seasonings.  

White turkey meat (such as turkey breast) is very low in fat, making it easily digestible – and a great home treatment if your dog has an upset stomach. This also makes it a great option for animals looking to drop a few pounds or needing low-fat diets for conditions such as pancreatitis

Dog eating ground turkey

Let’s dig in!

Turkey is a versatile and nutrient-packed protein source, with parts available to benefit almost any dog.

So, get ready to pull a chair up for your pup at this year's Thanksgiving dinner! Just make sure to keep those cooked bones and heavily seasoned meats on your own plate.

Looking to stuff in more of the good stuff?

Whether your pup is young or showing grey fur, small or large, having a balanced diet lets your pup get the most out of their life, keeping them happy and healthy for as long as possible. If you’re looking for more information about formulating the right diet for your fur baby, visit KaylaKowalski.com – I’m here for you!

Consider me your new dog nutritionist! My name is Kayla Kowalski and I’m a Certified Canine Nutritionist (CertCN) who has guided over 4,000 pet parents through custom diet transitions.


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