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Can Dogs Eat Turkey?

Southern Living logo Southern Living 10/23/2019 By the Editors of Southern Living
a white plate on a table © Yvonne Duivenvoorden/Getty Images

For most pet-lovers, the dog is as much a member of the family as any of the parents or children. Each family expresses its puppy love differently, and we undoubtedly show various degrees of obsession. Some dress their furry friends up in creative costumes. Some create a place for the dapper dogs in their wedding parties. Some reach under the table to feed the dog scraps of human food. We all have our weaknesses, some healthier than others.

One could argue that dressing your dog in costume is relatively harmless (although Fido may spend the entire night desperately trying to bat those bunny ears off his furry little head)—but what about our other habits? What if feeding our dogs human food, which we view as a treat, could really be harming our precious pups? We’re here to break down what you can and can’t feed your dog on the biggest food holiday of the year—Thanksgiving.

When we go on holiday, chances are we’re leashing the dog up to come with (and, in some cases, tucking our pups in backpacks to carry on all our adventures). That means that Fido is probably hopping in the backseat and coming along to Aunt Susan’s house for Thanksgiving. With all those unfamiliar sights and smells, it’s easy for your pup to get overwhelmed—and it’s easy for Uncle Marty to slip him a bite of turkey when nobody is looking. But can dogs eat turkey? The short answer is yes—but there’s a big catch.

Do not feed your dog seasoned turkey meat. Dogs can have negative reactions to all different kinds of seasonings, many of which can be toxic in large enough doses (including the nutmeg in your favorite Thanksgiving pie). If you’re stuffing your turkey, the onions could also be toxic for your dog. While your dog can safely eat unseasoned turkey meat, chances are that you’re rubbing your Thanksgiving turkey with a few different spices.

If you do choose to feed your dog turkey, ensure it’s simply the white meat taken from the center of the turkey—stay away from the fat and the skin, or any seasoned part of the turkey. Additionally, don’t allow your dog to gnaw on any of the turkey’s bones; like other poultry, turkey bones are quite thin and can snap and splinter in your dog’s throat, causing a major medical problem.

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As long as you follow these simple guidelines, feel free to sneak Fido a bite of that bird. Turkey is actually a common ingredient in dog food, so as long as you stick to the unseasoned white meat, your dog shouldn’t have any issues. Happy feasting!

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