Can Dogs Eat Turkey?

Can Dogs Eat Turkey?

The short answer is yes, dogs can safely eat turkey, provided it is prepared correctly and served in moderation. Turkey is a lean, healthy protein source that is often a primary ingredient in commercial dog foods. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind when feeding turkey to your furry friend to ensure their safety and well-being.

Nutritional Benefits of Turkey for Dogs

Turkey is an excellent source of lean protein, which is essential for maintaining your dog's muscle mass, supporting healthy skin and coat, and aiding in tissue repair. Additionally, turkey contains several important nutrients that can benefit your dog's overall health:



Vitamin B6

Supports nervous system function and red blood cell production

Vitamin B12

Aids in the formation of red blood cells and maintains a healthy nervous system


Promotes healthy skin, nerves, and digestion


Supports immune function and wound healing


Acts as an antioxidant and supports thyroid function


Helps maintain strong bones and teeth


Supports muscle and nerve function, as well as heart health

Potential Risks and Precautions

While turkey can be a healthy addition to your dog's diet, there are some potential risks and precautions to be aware of:

  1. Bones: Turkey bones, especially cooked ones, can splinter and cause choking or internal injuries. Always remove any bones before feeding the turkey to your dog.
  2. Skin and fat: Turkey skin and excess fat can contribute to digestive issues, such as pancreatitis, and may lead to obesity if consumed in large quantities.
  3. Seasonings and additives: Many seasonings and additives used in preparing turkey for human consumption, such as garlic, onion, and salt, can be harmful to dogs. Ensure the turkey you feed your dog is plain and unseasoned.
  4. Allergies: Although rare, some dogs may develop a turkey allergy. If you notice symptoms such as itching, skin rashes, or digestive upset after feeding turkey to your dog, discontinue use and consult your veterinarian. Alternatively you can take a dog food intolerance test that will test your dog for 400 food and non-food sensitivities.  

How to Safely Feed Turkey to Your Dog

To safely incorporate turkey into your dog's diet, follow these guidelines:

  1. Choose lean, white meat: Opt for skinless, boneless turkey breast as it is the leanest part of the bird and less likely to cause digestive issues.
  2. Cook thoroughly: Always cook turkey fully to eliminate the risk of foodborne illnesses. Avoid feeding your dog raw turkey.
  3. Avoid seasonings and additives: Serve plain, unseasoned turkey to your dog to prevent exposure to potentially harmful ingredients.
  4. Feed in moderation: Treat turkey as an occasional snack or meal topper, rather than a staple in your dog's diet. As a general rule, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog's daily caloric intake.
  5. Consult your veterinarian: Before making significant changes to your dog's diet, consult your veterinarian to ensure the changes are appropriate for your dog's individual needs and health status.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dogs and Turkey

  1. Can dogs eat turkey lunch meat or deli meat? No, it is not recommended to feed your dog turkey lunch meat or deli meat, as these products often contain high levels of sodium, preservatives, and other additives that can be harmful to dogs.
  2. Is it safe for dogs to eat turkey bones? No, turkey bones, especially cooked ones, can splinter and cause choking or internal injuries. Always remove bones before feeding turkey to your dog.
  3. Can dogs eat turkey skin? It is best to avoid feeding your dog turkey skin, as it is high in fat and can contribute to digestive issues and obesity.
  4. How much turkey can I feed my dog? The appropriate amount of turkey to feed your dog depends on their size, age, and overall health. As a general guideline, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog's daily caloric intake. Consult your veterinarian for personalized recommendations.
  5. Can dogs eat raw turkey? No, it is not recommended to feed your dog raw turkey, as it may contain harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. Always cook turkey thoroughly before feeding it to your dog.

Turkey-Based Dog Food and Treats

Many commercial dog food brands offer turkey-based formulas and treats, which can be a convenient way to incorporate this lean protein into your dog's diet. When selecting turkey-based products for your dog, keep the following in mind:

  1. Quality: Choose high-quality dog food and treats from reputable brands that use whole, named ingredients and avoid fillers, by-products, and artificial additives.
  2. Life stage and health considerations: Select products that are appropriate for your dog's life stage (puppy, adult, or senior) and any specific health concerns they may have, such as food allergies or sensitivities.
  3. Balanced nutrition: Ensure that the turkey-based food or treats you choose are part of a balanced diet that meets your dog's nutritional needs. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best options for your dog.
  4. Portion control: Even when feeding turkey-based dog food or treats, practice portion control to prevent overfeeding and maintain a healthy weight for your dog.

Some popular turkey-based dog food and treat options include:

  • Turkey and sweet potato dog food formulas
  • Turkey and cranberry dog treats
  • Turkey and rice dog food formulas
  • Turkey jerky treats (made specifically for dogs)

Always read labels carefully and choose products that align with your dog's individual needs and your veterinarian's recommendations.

Alternatives to Turkey for Dogs

While turkey can be a healthy and tasty option for many dogs, some may have allergies, sensitivities, or simply not enjoy the taste. In these cases, there are several alternative lean protein sources that you can consider incorporating into your dog's diet:

  1. Chicken (or chicken liver): Like turkey, chicken is a lean, easily digestible protein that is commonly used in dog food formulas and treats.
  2. Fish: Many types of fish, such as salmon, cod, and whitefish, are excellent sources of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can support your dog's skin, coat, and joint health.
  3. Lamb: Lamb is another lean protein option that can be a good choice for dogs with allergies or sensitivities to other meats.
  4. Venison: Venison, or deer meat, is a novel protein that can be beneficial for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities, as they are less likely to have been exposed to it before.
  5. Duck: Duck is a highly digestible, lean protein that can be a good option for dogs with sensitive stomachs or food allergies.

When introducing any new protein source into your dog's diet, do so gradually to minimize the risk of digestive upset. Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with their current food, and gradually increase the proportion over the course of a week or two.


Turkey can be a healthy and delicious treat for your dog when prepared and served properly. By following the guidelines outlined in this article and consulting with your veterinarian, you can safely incorporate turkey into your dog's diet and provide them with a lean source of protein and essential nutrients.

Remember to always remove bones, skin, and excess fat, and avoid seasonings and additives when feeding turkey to your dog. Feed turkey in moderation as part of a balanced diet, and monitor your dog for any signs of digestive upset or allergic reactions.

By taking these precautions and prioritising your dog's health and well-being, you can confidently share the benefits of turkey with your furry friend.