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Is Turkey Bad for Dogs?

Turkey Dinner

Question for our Pet Doc from Nancy…

Could turkey be harming my Chihuahua, Taco?

It took a while, unfortunately, but every time I gave my Chihuahua a piece of deli turkey or a piece of turkey hot dogs he became sick the following day (blotted stomach, lethargic, won’t eat/drink). But he usually feels better the next day. I am not sure if it was a coincidence but he is OFF all turkey.

Anyone know why Taco my dog would get sick from “turkey”?

Is Turkey Bad for Dogs?

Your dog may be allergic to turkey. Turkey itself is generally a pretty tasty and nutritious snack for most dogs. There isn’t anything particularly toxic about it, but when processed like with deli meats and turkey hot dogs, the chemicals used to keep them “edible” is often not digested well by dogs. I do not recommend feeding your dog any kind of processed meats. Also, moderation is key and always remember that each dog is an individual. Some of my patients are allergic to beef and some to chicken. If you see a pattern with Taco eating turkey and subsequently getting sick, then you’ve done the right thing by removing turkey from his diet.


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About Pet Doc
The pet doc is a veterinarian who has consulted with our site for many years. While he is still practicing and licensed, he volunteers his time to help us educate you, our readers, and has asked to donate this time and contribution anonymously. HIs 10+ years of experience in the field is invaluable as he helps to answer our reader’s pet-related questions. And hopefully, you will find his insights and helpful tips as much as we do.
  • Jockoliveson1

    Interesting info – 2x now, my dog has eaten a commercial turkey topper and both times the morning after has had 3 seizures each. She is currently on Keppra ER and was dx’ed with idiopathic epilepsy. I have not given her any turkey, since. Is it possible that the turkey was the cause? Seems coincidental to me. All regular vets tests ‘normal’. Thoughts, please.

    • Kimberly Kurimski

      Turkey can be the trigger for the seizures. Each dog is different but if both times your dog has had seizures you fed her turkey the day before, we definitely suggest avoiding turkey from now on. Hope all is well with your pup now!

      • Jockoliveson1

        Thank you, Kimberly Kurimski ! When asking my reg vet aforementioned, vet ‘blew it off’ ie: turkey/seizures. I have to listen to my ‘gut’ and have read numerous articles suggesting turkey causing seizures. Your reputation and credibility is ALL I needed to confirm. I was looking for a supplement from Balance IT but top ingredient is Tryptophan – knowing Tryptophan is high in turkey…not sure I want to risk it, thoughts, please. Thank you so very, very much, Kimberly. Thankfully, though weighing 90 lbs, only on Keppra 750 ER twice a day, (low dose).

        • Kimberly Kurimski

          You’re welcome! At this point, if you have doubts about a food to feed your dog, I suggest not giving it to her. What are you wanting/needing a supplement for? Did your vet suggest a certain supplement to give her to help with the epilepsy?

          • Jockoliveson1

            Thank you, again, Kimberly Kurimski. I home cook for my dog – lean ground beef boiled/rinsed and brown rice. Didn’t know if she needed more nutrients, thus a supplement. I can certainly cook up, puree, carrots, green beans and squash and add to beef and rice. So many peeps on the web are all for supplements for their dogs and I wondered if truly necessary or if the veggies I’m going to add will be fine. Thank you, so much, again, Kimberly.

            • Kimberly Kurimski

              The food you are providing your dog sounds like it should be enough for her. Unless your vet suggests a supplement that she is lacking she should be getting the nutrients she needs. So happy we could help you!

              • Jockoliveson1

                Thank you so much, again, Kimberly Kurimski! Hugs, licks, kisses and paws, to you. Melinda and Snowy <3

  • This is crazy. Maybe its the dang chemicals in the foods and not the turkey. No one – dog, human, cat – should be eating those “foods”.

  • Toby Hampton

    I just gave my little Yorkie the deli turkey off my sandwich. I think at most two pieces and a little roast beef and ham. Now I’m afraid she may get sick…

    • anadaGuy

      Feeding your dog or yourself processed meats is just darn silly. You have a choice, your dog does not. There are plenty of healthy alternatives. Our Dobie loves turkey but never processed cr@p.

  • a hound with a fashionable sense

    Yes, an allergy has to be the case.  I give my dog turkey all the time, and she is a Chihuahua too, and she never has any problems.  In fact, she loves it.  That is scary though, not realizing that your dog has an allergy.  At least her reaction was not a major one and she could breathe.  But I always get scared when my dog gets sick, it is scary because she cannot talk and tell me what is wrong or what hurts.  One thing I could suggest is that if you feel like your dog really loved the flavor of the turkey, but would just get sick soon after eating it; you could give her vegetarian turkey possibly, though it is usually made with soy and wheat, so those could be allergens to a sensitive dog as well.  I am not sure.  What I do know is that my little puppy cannot seem to tell the difference between real  meat and veggie.  The funny secret is that neither can humans.  They put this stuff into restaurant food like soups and stews called TVP, and it takes on the flavor of whatever dish it is in.  Sometimes you have it in your food and you have no idea that you are eating chicken or beef.  One of the ways that people use TVP is to create the illusion of more meat in food, without having to spend the money.  For example, when a person re-hydrates a pound of TVP and cooks it with a pound of ground beef, the TVP will take on that flavor and it will be good.  Anyway, just a bit of extra information.  The veggie turkey you buy however will not have any cooked turkey juices at all.  It will be all vegetarian (possibly with some eggs) seasoned to taste like the meat that you desire.  A lot of these mock meat copies work well as substitutes in recipes, and some of them taste close to real meat by human standards, but by dog standards, I really think that they taste like meat.  My dog has always reacted the same way to a piece of veggie lunchmeat or a piece of real lunchmeat.  To her, it just seems like good meat.  I guess there is something to be said for that.  It could be a good option for your little pup!

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