A dog with a very sneaky expression on his face sizes up a turkey on the table.

Dogs are part of our family, so it’s not surprising we want to share our Thanksgiving meals with them. Yet not everything that humans can eat is safe for dogs. Can dogs eat Thanksgiving turkey? Or is that another one of those not so great food?

While turkey itself is fine for dogs (and often included in their favorite foods) thanksgiving turkey could cause problems for your pet. Thanksgiving turkey isn’t a straight up no, but it’s important to realize why a holiday turkey is different from the turkey in dog food, and when it might not be safe.

Deep Fat Fried Turkeys

There are lots of ways to prepare a turkey, and one of them is to deep fat fry it in a turkey fryer. This is one case where you may want to skip giving your pet a little taste and opt for a lower fat treat instead. While dogs, like all mammals, need a certain amount of fat in their diet to stay healthy, too much can lead to pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is a painful condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed. It can sometimes be fatal. With so much added fat from deep frying, offering some to your pet is a bad idea.

Heavily Seasoned Turkeys

While turkey itself is fairly benign, the seasonings aren’t always. If the seasoning is very spicy, it can cause problems for your pet. Onions and garlic are toxic to dogs, so if the turkey is seasoned with these things, it’s best to avoid it.

Salt is another common seasoning that is bad for your dog in large amounts. Once again, just like fat, salt is essential for life. Yet too much salt is extremely bad for your pet. In particular, salt is bad for your dog’s heart—an organ notoriously weak in chihuahuas.

If your turkey is salt brined or heavily seasoned, you may not want to share with your pet.

No Cooked Bones!

The most dangerous part of the turkey of all are the cooked bones. Cooking causes the bones to become brittle. When the cooked bones are crunched between your dog’s teeth, they become needle like shards rather than getting safely crushed.

If swallowed, these shards can perforate your dog’s bowels and cause a life-threatening event. Never give your dog any cooked bones and if they have swallowed any, contact your vet immediately. This is an emergency.

When Turkey is Safe

So, is Thanksgiving turkey completely off the menu for your pet? Not necessarily. You can still give your pet Thanksgiving turkey by being smart about what part of the turkey you choose. The best part to give your pet is from the turkey’s breast, as close to the bone as possible.

The breast has the least amount of fat to it, reducing the risk of pancreatitis from excess fat. The breast meat closest to the bone is also farthest away from the skin, making it less likely to have absorbed seasonings and salt.

Stick to a few bites of meat rather than a huge bowl. Remember—treats should make up 10% or less of your dog’s diet.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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