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Can Dogs Eat Turkey? The Truth on Raw, Freeze-Dried, Dehydrated, and Cooked Turkey for Dogs | Pupford

September 13th, 2023

Filed under Health + Wellness

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When it comes to sharing tasty treats, special occasion meals, or switching things up in our training toolboxes, you only want to give your dog what’s healthy and safe, right?

This may end up leading to you asking questions like this: Is turkey safe for dogs?

While it seems like this is a straightforward yes-or-no question, there’s a little more to it than that.

Read on for everything you need to know about feeding turkey to dogs, including:

  • Is turkey good for dogs?
  • Benefits of turkey for dogs
  • Using turkey for training dogs
  • Preparation types for turkey
    • Raw
    • Freeze-dried
    • Dehydrated
    • Cooked

We’ll dive deeper into each one of these sections but if you’re here for the quick answer – yes, turkey is safe for dogs, as long as you follow some important guidelines that we’ll get more into now.


Do not give your dog thanksgiving turkey

Good news – turkey absolutely can be a safe and healthy part of your dog’s diet. But there are some guidelines you’ll want to follow when feeding turkey to your dog:

  1. Remove all of the skin. Skin contains a lot of fat that can potentially cause issues like pancreatitis when consumed in excess. Ground turkey is also a good option since it doesn’t have skin.
  2. Only give your dog unseasoned meat. Garlic, onions, and many seasonings are irritating to your dog’s stomach and can even be toxic. So, unfortunately, no Thanksgiving dinner for your pup.
  3. Remove meat from the bone. Turkey bones easily splinter, which can cut your dog’s mouth or injure/obstruct the intestines.
  4. Be mindful of portion size. Like anything else, moderation is key for maintaining healthy caloric intake.

As long as these rules are followed, turkey can definitely be a safe option for your dog!


So we know it’s safe to give turkey to a dog as long as some rules are followed, but is it good?

Well, we have good news for the turkey lovers out there – there are definitely health benefits of turkey for dogs. The highlights:

  • Turkey is an excellent source of protein, boasting 8g per ounce.
  • Turkey contains additional nutrients such as riboflavin and phosphorus which helps your dog produce energy, metabolize fats and protein, strengthen bones, and keep blood pH within a normal range.
  • When the skin is removed, turkey is low in fat and calories.
  • Most dogs find turkey delicious and enticing, making it a great option for a high-value reward.

If the last point caught your attention, stay tuned – more on using turkey for training in the next section!


Since it’s healthy and exciting for your dog, turkey can make a great reward to use for training. Here are two ways you can do that:

  1. Use turkey in place of training treats. Break your turkey into little tiny pieces and give one to your dog whenever they succeed during a training session. This usually works well as an incentive because of how interested dogs are in the turkey; however, it’s not as convenient or portable as freeze-dried training treats.
  2. Give to your dog in the form of a dog chew. Productive chewing reduces anxiety, releases endorphins, and can lessen problematic behavior. If your dog experiences separation anxiety, destructive chewing, or needs increased mental stimulation, this is a great option – plus, it’s great for oral health and keeping their teeth clean.
Just be sure to select a dog chew that is made with natural, healthy ingredients. Pupford’s turkey tendon dog chews are made from USA sourced high-protein, low-fat turkey without grains or artificial flavors. At only 15-22 calories per chew, they’re a great way to help work on problem behaviors or provide your dog a little extra mental exercise, without worrying about them consuming too many calories.


turkey tendon dog chews

Hopefully by now we’ve convinced you that turkey can be a safe, effective tool for expanding your dog’s diet and incentivizing training.

But you’re probably also wondering what the best way to prepare turkey for your dog is. There’s a LOT of conflicting information out there regarding raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried etc. meat, so let’s break it down for you.

  • Raw. The raw food diet can be controversial because on one hand, people are hesitant to do so because of the risk of food-borne illness. But on the other hand, dogs have eaten raw meat throughout history and their stomachs are more acidic specifically for that reason, right? Both sides are valid – if you are going to feed your dog raw turkey, be very mindful of dates, handling methods, storage, and cleanliness to reduce the growth and spread of bacteria.
  • Freeze-dried. Freeze-drying maintains the nutrients and benefits of raw turkey, but eliminates the risk of bacteria growth. During the multi-step process, the turkey is essentially flash-frozen to maintain freshness then placed in a freeze-dryer that uses cold and vacuum pressure to remove liquid. The result: non-perishable turkey that maintains full nutritional value – which is why this method is commonly used for dog treats.
  • Dehydrated. Unlike freeze-drying that uses cold air, the dehydration process uses hot, dry air to remove moisture from raw turkey. The temperature is hot enough to evaporate the water but not high enough to cook the turkey or remove any nutritional benefits. You’ll typically see this method for jerky treats and dog chews.
  • Cooked. Turkey is versatile – you can boil, bake, grill, or cook it in a pan. Just be sure when cooking turkey for your dog, you leave out any seasonings or add-ins like garlic or onions. Also, be mindful that cooked turkey only stays good in the refrigerator for a few days and is a little less portable than the other options.

You have a few options when it comes to feeding your dog turkey. But whatever you choose, be mindful of ingredients and safe storage and handling for safest results!

We’re so glad you’re taking the time to learn what is safe for your dog to eat. If you haven’t done so already, definitely take a look at our other articles to help you answer questions like:

But if you’re focused on turkey right now, be sure to check out our Turkey Tendon Dog Chews! 


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