Can My Dog Eat Turkey?

Here's what you need to know.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey

If you eat turkey at Thanksgiving or anytime throughout the year, you may be wondering if giving your dog a piece of the main course is a safe and healthy choice for him.

When it comes to feeding your dog “table food,” can dogs eat turkey?

We reached out to Dr. Lindsey E. Bullen, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, to find out whether turkey is bad for dogs, or if you can safely give him a little bit to enjoy during Thanksgiving dinner.

Can dogs eat turkey?

The short answer: Yes, but it depends on how it’s cooked. Dogs can eat plain turkey. In fact, it can actually help dogs build muscle and is a highly digestible protein source.

But making sure it’s cooked thoroughly is very important.

“Pets shouldn’t have raw meat because they can contract illnesses from the bacteria on raw foods just like people can,” Dr. Bullen told The Dodo.

Sneaking your dog raw food can increase his risk of contracting a foodborne illness, such as E. coli, salmonella or listeria, according to Dr. Bullen.

Also, you shouldn’t give your pup turkey with tons of seasonings, such as garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs (and even other seasonings that are nontoxic can give your dog an upset stomach).

How to serve turkey to your dog

When it comes to feeding your dog turkey, here’s a few things you should know:

  • Avoid the skin — The fat content on turkey skin can cause pancreatitis in dogs, and as mentioned above, seasonings can give him an upset stomach.
  • Small portions — As with most “people” food, feeding in small quantities is safest.
  • No bones — “Avoid feeding your pet bones or meats with bones attached, as it could result in fractured teeth and/or gastrointestinal tract obstruction (both of which can result in a serious pet emergency),” Dr. Bullen said.

Sharing is caring, after all — and once you consider the factors above, we’re pretty sure he’ll enjoy a little nibble of your turkey!