Can Dogs Eat Turkey?

When the holiday season rolls around, many pet owners love to indulge their beloved pet by sharing in the yummy foods that come along with the time of year.

In some cases this is no problem, as many human foods are fine and even nutritional for dogs.

Quite often holiday fare can be a wonderful chance to incorporate a little added nutrition into your dog’s diet. At worst, other foods can be a harmless treat.

However, there are several reasons for caution when it comes to treating your dog from your holiday feast. It is highly recommended that you consult with your vet concerning whether or not your holiday treats are suitable for your dog.

Always take into account if your dog is accustomed to table food and if so, how accustomed. If they are used to being treated to table foods on a fairly regular basis and have not experienced any sensitivities or digestive issues, then it’s probable that they will be fine. As the owner, no one knows better than you, what your dog is capable of consuming without issue.

Keep in mind, however, that holiday foods are generally different than the table foods that are commonly eaten throughout the rest of the year. Keep new ingredients in mind when deciding whether or not to give any holiday dishes to your dog.

When introducing your dog to new foods, take it slow. Giving them small portions and then giving them time to thoroughly digest before trying something else can help to determine whether or not they handle the new food well.

In general, basic turkey meat itself is usually considered safe for dogs to consume. However, feeding your dog turkey should never be approached as lightly as chucking a leftover turkey leg or chunk of carcass at your dog.

As discussed previously, if your dog has never had turkey before, be sure to introduce it in small portions. This will help to ensure that your dog’s stomach and digestive system will be able to slowly become used to the new food.

In addition to this, before giving your dog any turkey, be sure to strip all pieces of any excess fat, skin and bones. This not only keeps the snack leaner and healthier but avoids the issue of ingesting bones that can easily splinter.

Although turkey may be a boost to your dog’s diet, other common holiday foods are proven to be quite dangerous. Not only should you avoid foods that you know from past experience cause your dog stomach issues, but there are other ingredients and foods that should not be allowed into your pets diet.

Some foods that need to be avoided for your dog are:

  • Too many new foods at once. If you wish to let them try new foods that are very different from their regular diet, do so slowly and give them very small portions. Try small portions of one new food at a time being careful to for any signs of distress. It is best to avoid foods that are spicy and super high in fat.
  • Chocolate. This is a pretty commonly known danger for dogs, but many don’t realize that baking chocolates are even more toxic and dangerous than regular candy chocolates. Never give these to your dog and be sure to keep them well out of reach.
  • Onions. Most dogs can easily handle onions and other alliums such as leeks, scallions and garlic in small portions if they are well cooked. This is especially true for dogs who have consumed these in the past without issues. However, if your dog is not accustomed to this plant group or if they are given too large of a portion, it can lead to toxic anemia. Also keep in mind that turkey stuffing is quite commonly made with sizeable amounts of onions.
  • Xylitol. Though not a common ingredient, xylitol is used to sweeten foods in place of sugar. Diabetics in particular use this as a sweetener. It is highly toxic for dogs and should be keep very far out of their reach.
  • Other foods to avoid include alcohol which is especially dangerous for dogs due to their small bodies and grapes and raisins which can cause kidney failure.

Foods that are ok for your dog to try out include:

  • Cranberry Sauces. These are generally safe, though high in sugar, so limited portions are best.
  • Mashed potatoes. Potatoes are fine, but keep in mind added flavorings and ingredients such as dairy products, onions and gravies.
  • Green Beans. It is preferable to not give your dog green beans from a casserole as green bean casseroles are usually made with onions and other possibly harmful ingredients. Plain green beans can be a very nutritious treat.
  • Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Plain pasta is probably best but if they must have the cheese also, keep the portions very limited.

If you should decide to let your dog try some new treats during the holiday season, be sure to keep a close eye on them after. Watch for signs of sickness and distress. If at any point, their behavior indicates that they are not feeling well, it is never a bad thing to consider a trip to the vet.

Signs and symptoms of illness can include refusal to eat or drink or the development of unusual eating habits, vomiting, a tired and sluggish demeanor, abnormal stool, fever and changes to their skin or coat. Should any of these signs appear, visit your vet.

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