Do you share food with their canine companion? If so, come Thanksgiving, you may ask yourself, "Is turkey safe for dogs?" Get the answer!

Can Dogs Eat Turkey?


What’s one of the first things that pop into your mind when you think of Thanksgiving? Chances are you said turkey! Come holiday time, there’s a special spotlight that shines on this traditional bird. And after the many hours it takes to season, cook, stuff, slice, display, and serve, you better bet the days following Thanksgiving will be filled with turkey too. For those of you dog parents who like to share your food with your canine companion, you may be asking yourself, “Is turkey safe for dogs?” Well, the answer is both yes and no!

Let’s Talk Turkey

In general, plain turkey is totally fine for dogs to eat. In fact, you may even see turkey listed as the main protein in some high-quality dog foods. So if you’re looking to cook a healthy meal your pooch will love then incorporating a little turkey (skin and fat removed) is a great protein choice. BUT … it’s not a great idea to share your leftover Thanksgiving turkey with your pooch.

Here’s why …

Holiday Turkey

Just think: What other ingredients do you add to your Thanksgiving turkey? Holiday birds are rarely cooked and served plain. Rather, they’re typically seasoned with ingredients such as onions, garlic, and salt (which are all dangerous to dogs). You may also add some not-so-dog-friendly herbs. What about sugar? Then there are the overly fatty butter and oils. 

While we may prepare a delicious meal for us humans, letting your dog indulge in the holiday bird could result in an upset stomach, pancreatitis, or worse. I recently watched a video from my personal veterinarian here in Charlotte, North Carolina who said, while most people know the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday, veterinarians refer to it as Pancreatitis Day. That’s how many dogs they see come into their office with health issues as a result of indulging in the holiday meal!

Tips To Keep Your Pup Healthy This Thanksgiving

  • If you do let your dog nibble on a little turkey this Thanksgiving, make sure the turkey is plain. No seasoned skin or fatty pieces. Simply offer a moderate amount of lean and white meat. 
  • Avoid tossing your dog the leftover turkey bones. According to the AKC, “Poultry bones, especially cooked poultry bones, are brittle. This, combined with their small size, makes them very dangerous for dogs.”

Happy Holidays!