Can I Give My Dog Turkey Bones

Picture of a cooked turkey

The holiday season brings many opportunities to enjoy turkey – something that dogs know well! If you’re buying a big bird for a family gathering, chances are that you will have some leftovers that will include turkey bones. This inevitably brings up the question of whether you can give your dog turkey bones to eat. Many people also enjoy turkey year-round so this question is always relevant. Can your dog eat turkey bones? Is it safe? What if they are raw bones?  We have the answers for you.

Turkey bones nutrition

For many people, the meat on the turkey is only the start of the turkey’s nutrition. Turkey bones are a wonderful base for making turkey soup or turkey stock if you add some vegetables, for example.

For turkey bone broth with a one-cup serving size, one cup has 45 calories (10 calories from fat). It has 1 gram of total fat; 0 grams of saturated fat; 0 mg of cholesterol; and 70 mg of sodium. It has 7 grams of carbohydrates; 0 grams of dietary fiber; and 3 grams of protein.

The marrow in turkey bones and other bones is high in calories and fat but it also contains some protein and nutrients such as vitamin B12. Marrow is also rich in collagen, the most abundant protein in the body. It can help promote skin health and reduce joint pain.

If you don’t feel like cooking a turkey or making turkey broth, you can buy smoked turkey neck bones. They can be boiled/simmered and eaten; or boiled and used to make broth or stock.

Are turkey bones dangerous for dogs?

In general, turkey bones are similar to chicken bones where dogs are concerned. That means that cooked bones can be dangerous.

Cooked bones tend to become brittle from the heat during the cooking process. This means that even though the meat on the bone may be moist and juicy, the bone can splinter and break easily. (Think of how easy it is to pull and break a cooked wishbone from a turkey.) It’s the jagged broken bones which can pose a serious risk to a dog when he chomps into them. A brittle bone can easily snap and become lodged in a dog’s throat or make a tear in a dog’s gastrointestinal system.

Turkey bones can be especially worrisome because some of them are very large. A dog that tries to wolf down a cooked drumstick runs the risk of wedging a sharp piece of bone in his gut when he chews on it.

In other cases, small pieces of bone can get stuck in your dog’s stomach or intestines that can result in a blockage. Your dog could become constipated. In the worst cases, your dog could need surgery to unblock things.

If the splintered bones do move through your dog’s system, it’s possible that some sharp bone pieces can cause your dog pain and even bleeding when he eliminates.

For these reasons, you should avoid giving your dog any cooked turkey bones.

Can you give your dog raw turkey bones?

Raw turkey bones are not brittle the way that cooked bones are. They haven’t been cooked so they are more or less the way nature made them. They won’t snap and splinter if a dog chews on them, for example.

However, raw turkey bones (and other raw bones) do come with some concerns. Since they are not cooked, they are a little more likely to carry bacteria. People who advocate feeding raw bones and raw food to dogs point out that dogs have strong stomach acid and they should be able to overcome small amounts of bacteria on food. And, most foods contain some amount of bacteria even if precautions are taken.

The U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) came out against giving dogs raw bones. The American Veterinary Medical Association advises against a raw food diet but seems to feel that raw bones are acceptable as long as the bone is suitable and there is supervision.

It is possible that a dog might crack a took when chewing on a big turkey bone, especially one that is very dense such as a thigh bone. This doesn’t always happen but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the possibility. In this case, your dog would need to see your vet for some dental work. Many people claim that chewing on raw bones helps keep the teeth whiter and cleaner. That’s possibly true, but a cracked tooth sometimes occurs, especially with an older dog.

Some dogs love raw bones and some never really like them. It seems to be a personal preference with dogs.

If you plan to give your dog any raw turkey bones, it’s important to follow handwashing and safety rules in your kitchen and where your dog eats. While your dog may not mind a little bacteria on his food, Salmonella and other bacteria can be passed to humans so keep things scrubbed clean. Feed your dog on a surface that can be easily cleaned such as tile or linoleum.

Picture of a Thanksgiving Turkey

Tips to stay healthy while feeding your pet

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water right after handling pet food or treats; this is the most important step to prevent illness.
  • When possible, store pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from reach of young children.
  • Don’t use your pet’s feeding bowl to scoop food. Use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon, or cup.
  • Always follow any storage instructions on pet food bags or containers.

If your dog has any complications from eating raw turkey bones, they might appear as the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Bloody stool
  • Dental issues

If you are immuno-compromised, it might be a good idea to forego giving your dog raw turkey bones or other raw food for the sake of your health and safety.

Conclusion

Dogs and bones always seem to go together. If your dog is interested in turkey bones, there are some safe ways for your dog to enjoy them. Turkey bone broth on his kibble would be delicious, for example. You can also let him enjoy some raw turkey bones – as long as you carefully supervise. However, it’s never a good idea to let your dog eat cooked turkey bones. The risk of injury is too great with cooked bones.

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