Is Turkey Bad For Dogs? (The Truth)

Turkey in roasting pan (caption: Is Turkey Bad For Dogs?)It’s tempting to slip Fido a piece of Thanksgiving turkey or lunch meat, but could turkey be harming your dog? Which state is feeding its dogs the most turkey? Learn the answers and some alternatives (and a yummy turkey treat recipe to make with the Thanksgiving leftovers).

Article Overview

Can Dogs Eat Turkey? Is It Bad For Dogs?

Plain, unseasoned turkey is a tasty and nutritious snack for most dogs and is often an ingredient in commercial dog foods. There isn’t anything particularly toxic about it, but when processed, like deli meats and turkey hot dogs, the chemicals used to keep them “edible” is often not digested well by dogs. We do not recommend feeding your dog any processed meats.

Thanksgiving turkey can be just as dangerous. We like to cover and fill our birds in oil, butter, seasonings, garlic, onion, stuffing, etc. This can upset your dog’s digestive system or even cause pancreatitis. It’s better to avoid sliding your dog a piece under the table.

If you choose to give your dog turkey, moderation is key, and always remember that each dog is an individual.

Does Your Dog Have A Food Allergy?

Some dogs have food allergies. If you see a pattern with your pup eating turkey and subsequently getting sick, then you may consider removing turkey from their diet. To confirm a food or environmental allergy, you can order this test and consult with your vet for more advice.

Which Other Human Foods Are Dog-Safe? Dog and cat at open fridge (caption: Foods Not To Feed Your Dog)

Which States Feed Dogs The Most (& Least) Thanksgiving Turkey?

We researched to identify which states feed their dogs the most turkey leftovers around the Thanksgiving holiday. The locations may surprise you!

Which States Feed Dogs The Most (& Least) Thanksgiving Turkey Infographic

Delaware came out on top as the state with the happiest pups on Thanksgiving in 2019 (because their owners are consistently eager to know whether it’s okay to feed turkey to their dogs). Right behind Delawarean pups are those from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.

Note: DE and WV made our top five list in 2018 too, but PA, RI, and NJ are new lucky pups in our turkey-loving rankings!

Are you wondering which dogs are least likely to chow down on turkey? Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Mississippi showed the least interest in this subject in 2019, suggesting those dogs may skip the Thanksgiving festivities. Or perhaps they already know it’s okay to feed turkey to dogs in these areas, so they are skipping the online research.

There is also some good news for all dogs (and their bellies) – searches for “Can Dogs Eat Turkey” are up 47% over a recent five year period. So, it seems that more and more dogs are successfully begging their way into more poultry on Turkey Day (or parents are doing a better job of researching it ahead of time to play it safe).


Google Trends U.S. state data for the phrase “can dogs eat turkey” was analyzed for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to the Tuesday after in five recent Thanksgivings (2014-2019). Wednesday to Saturday each year around Thanksgiving is by far the vast amount of searches for this term during any given calendar year during this time frame.

Turkey Dog Treat Recipe

Dog eating turkey treat (caption: turkey dog treat recipes)

If you want to try giving your dog some Thanksgiving leftovers, below is a dog treat recipe.

Remember to avoid giving your dog a butter-soaked, herb covered stuffing filled turkey and only giving it to them in moderation.  is a great way to eliminate these things.

  • 1 unbaked loaf of bread or pizza crust
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (preferably low sodium) or water
  • 1-2 teaspoons flour
  • 3/4 cup cooked turkey chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese (pick your pup’s favorite)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Roll out the dough and cut into 3″ circles with a cookie cutter.
  3. In a pan, combine the broth and flour, stirring until flour dissolves.
  4. Heat on medium until mixture thickens.
  5. Add the turkey and vegetables. Cook until the mixture is thoroughly heated.
  6. Simmer for a few minutes.
  7. Spoon one to two teaspoons of the turkey-veggie mixture onto each circle.
  8. Fold up the sides and pinch shut.
  9. Roll into a ball shape.
  10. In a separate small bowl, mix the cheese and sesame seeds.
  11. Roll or sprinkle each ball with the cheese-sesame seed mixture.
  12. Arrange the balls on a baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Allow time for this turkey dog treat recipe to cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Serving Size: Approximately 8 cups (64 oz.)

Is Turkey Bad For Dogs Infographic

Here’s a handy graphic you can share and print out with the recipe.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey and Turkey Treat Recipe Graphic

A No-Cook, Year-Round Alternative

If you are looking for a delicious pre-made turkey recipe to enjoy all year long, we highly recommend you get your paws on The Farmer’s Dog. Your dog will gobble it up (or at least ours do). It’s freshly made, all-natural wet dog food is packed with all the nutrients your pup needs. For convenience, it is delivered right to your doorstep. Learn more in our Farmer’s Dog review.

Our readers have access to 50% off your first box. No code needed, just use this link and the discount will be applied! You can also visit our dedicated The Farmer's Dog coupons page.

What’s your dog’s favorite Thanksgiving dish?