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Thanksgiving, for most families, is all about the bird. Hours go into the roasting and basting, and once the feast is over, there are turkey sandwiches, turkey potpies, and turkey casseroles to make. In the midst of all of that leftover turkey, it is tempting to slip our dogs some meat, or even to make them up a plate of it as a special Thanksgiving treat.
But can dogs eat turkey? Is it good for them? Are there risks? Here is what you need to know about feeding turkey to dogs to get your dog through the holidays safely.
Can Dogs Eat Turkey?
The short answer is “yes and no.” Turkey is not toxic to dogs. It is an ingredient in many commercial dog foods and is rich in nutrients like protein, riboflavin, and phosphorous. When cooked plain, under the guidance of a veterinarian, it can be an essential part of a homemade dog food diet.
Thanksgiving turkeys, however, are rarely cooked plain. We rub our birds with butter and oils and season them with salt, pepper, herbs, and spices. We stuff them full of stuffing, onions, garlic, and more herbs. To us, this is delicious. For our dogs, it is a recipe for unpleasant digestive upset at best, and pancreatitis at worst.
How to Feed Your Dog Turkey Safely
If you decide to feed your dog turkey this Thanksgiving, there are a few things you need to know to do it safely.
Can Dogs Eat Turkey Bones?
Poultry bones, especially cooked poultry bones, are brittle. This, combined with their small size, makes them very dangerous for dogs. Veterinarians caution against feeding dogs bones of any kind, including poultry bones, as they can cause the following problems:
If you want to give your dog a bone, try a large hardy nylon or rubber chew toy bone or other size-appropriate chew toy. Some of them are even flavored, and your dog will live to chew another day.
Yes, you can feed your dog turkey safely, as long as you follow these guidelines. However, feeding table scraps to dogs on a regular basis can lead to obesity, which causes a host of problems, including diabetes, hypertension, joint stress, and hip dysplasia.
If you have any more questions, talk with your vet about how to feed turkey safely to your dog.