Turkey is a great protein source for your pup. While you might only cook a full turkey at the holidays, you can share turkey with your dog all year round if you follow a few instructions to keep your pup safe. While you may think of a full roasted turkey, you (and your pup) can also enjoy turkey breasts or ground turkey that you can brown similarly to beef. If you are grilling, you could shape the ground turkey into patties and enjoy similar to how you would eat a hamburger. Your dog would probably not be upset if you added a slice of cheese to the mix!
4 ways to make sure your dog is enjoying turkey safely
1. Only feed plain turkey
Plain turkey can be a delicious and nutritious treat for your pup. Most of the time when people cook turkey for the holidays or other special meals, the turkey is not plain. Butter, oil, sauces or seasonings can upset your dog’s sensitive stomach or worse. Onion, shallot and other members of the allium family can be toxic to your dog. If you are going to share turkey with your pup make it plain or keep a plain piece separate from the human turkey so your dog can enjoy it.
2. Avoid gravy and stuffing
While this may sound like a given since we said to only feed plain turkey, it’s still worth mentioning. Don’t give your pup turkey with anything in it or on it! Even as a special treat on a holiday. Gravy is loaded with butter and fat. This makes the turkey taste better to us but can make your dog sick. Too much fat can give your pup pancreatitis . You also want to avoid sharing stuffing. Bread, sausage, garlic, and onions aren’t good for your pup. If your dog is begging at the table, resist the temptation to share.
Since you don’t want your pup to feel left out, what you can do is offer plain turkey, a wet or fresh dog food made with turkey or a kong loaded with a dog appropriate snack. If you do want to pump up the flavor of plain turkey you can add dog-approved veggies like a little bit of mashed potato (just potatoes, not the kind you eat that are loaded with sour cream and butter) or sweet potato. If you wanted to make a special festive meal for your pup you could try mixing plain turkey, unsweetened dried cranberries and roasted or mashed sweet potato or butternut squash. If your dog likes plain green beans, you could add a few here as well.
3. Don’t share cooked bones
Even though you often see dogs chewing on or burying bones, note that these are NOT cooked turkey bones. Never ever give your dog a cooked Turkey bone to chew on. These bones can easily splinter causing cuts or scrapes in your pet’s mouth, broken teeth, internal injuries or blockages. You never want a festive dinner party to end with your pup in emergency surgery. Supervise your pups when there are bones on the counter and try to take out the trash after you are finished with the bones. If you like to, you can make bone broth from turkey bones before you throw them away.
4. Don’t feed turkey skin
The final thing you want to make sure you aren’t offering your pup is the turkey skin. Turkey skin can be quite fatty and can cause digestive upset or even pancreatitis if your pup gets too much. Like the bones, keep the skin away from your pup and dispose of it properly so your pup isn’t tempted to trash pick or counter surf!
Risks and benefits of feeding turkey
Turkey is a great source of lean heart-healthy protein for many pups. At Ollie, we created our Turkey recipe to provide an easy way for pet parents to share this delicious protein with their pups. Our recipe contains kale, pumpkin, carrots, and blueberries to add lots of great vitamins and minerals to your dog’s diet.
Like chicken, dogs can have an allergic reaction to turkey. If your pup has never had turkey before you might want to introduce it slowly. If you are switching their food to Ollie from another brand, you will want to transition over a period of a few days. Mix the Ollie into their old food a little at a time until your pup is eating all Ollie. If you notice your pup is having any gastrointestinal issues or appears to have an allergy, stop feeding Ollie or any other form of turkey and consult with your vet.
In addition to using turkey as the main protein in your pup’s diet, you can also offer turkey as a training treat. The easiest way to do this is to roast a plain piece of turkey breast and cut it into small pieces. Your pup should be eager to work and earn these tasty morsels. You can also use turkey broth and leftover turkey along with healthy ingredients like whole wheat flour and oats to create a homemade biscuit. If you’re shorter on time or hate cooking, you can purchase treats made from turkey. There are plenty of options on the market from crunchy biscuits to chewy jerkies. Make sure to read the ingredients before offering these treats to your dog. You want to find treats with high-quality ingredients, not cheap fillers.
If you are cooking turkey specifically for your dog, remember to keep it plain so that your pup can enjoy it safely. Cooking for your pup can be a great bonding experience. You can sit together and wait for the turkey to be ready, play training games or just enjoy each other’s company.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.