Can dogs eat turkey with the rest of your family this Thanksgiving? Learn why your dogs shouldn’t eat certain foods and the truth about table scraps.
You’re sitting at the dining room table, sharing a meal with your family, when you start to feel a wet drip on your foot. Then you hear a quiet, high-pitched whine. Is the table leaking and about to break? Nope. It’s just your dog. He’s drooling, crying, and begging for some of your dinner. And those eyes—it’s so hard to say no.
You know your dog is well-fed and just fine, but doesn’t it feel like we have this biological need to feed our dogs from the table and make them happy?
But are dogs able to safely eat everything you’re eating? Can dogs eat turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and apple pie? The answer is a bit complicated and not completely cut-and-dry.
Why Table Scraps Should Stay on the Table
Broadly speaking, feeding dogs table scraps isn’t a great idea.
Yes, there are plenty of foods Fido can eat and enjoy, but humans usually don’t know when to stop feeding—and dogs don’t often know when to stop eating. According to PetMD, giving your dog “people food” can cause behavioral and health problems, as well as turn them into picky eaters.
Behavior: If you give your dogs food anywhere other than their food bowl, they can develop the bad habit of begging. Every time you eat, cook, or even touch food, there’s a good chance your dog will suddenly appear and start whining. And once this habit develops, it’s a tough one to break.
Health: According to a clinical survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 50.2 million dogs in the U.S. were classified as overweight or obese by their veterinary health care professional. Feeding dogs table scraps, in addition to their regular dog food, increases their daily caloric intake and puts them in danger of becoming obese. And while a chubby dog may seem “cute,” your dog will also be at a greater risk of developing heart disease, breathing problems, mobility issues, and other health conditions.
Picky eating: If you start feeding your dog delicious human food, why would he want to eat his boring dog food? Over time, your dog may decide he doesn’t want to eat his regular dog food—the food that contains all the appropriate nutrients and calories that he needs—because your food tastes better.
But, what about table scraps on special occasions, like Thanksgiving? Holiday treats can sometimes be okay—if you are extremely careful.
Feeding Dogs on Thanksgiving:
Can dogs eat turkey, too?
Turkey isn’t toxic to dogs—you can find it as an ingredient in many different dog foods. Thanksgiving turkeys aren’t known for being your average turkeys, though. There are seasonings, stuffing, and rubs, and these are the things that can upset a dog’s tummy or even make them very ill.
This doesn’t mean you can’t treat your pooch during Thanksgiving dinner, though. The American Kennel Club recommends that if you do want to give your dog turkey on Thanksgiving, make sure it’s plain. No skin, no gravy, no bones, no fat trimmings—and only give them a little bit.
The same rule goes for other types of meat. Dogs can safely consume meat, as long as it's fully cooked (no raw or undercooked meat), completely plain, and in small quantities.
Can dogs eat turkey bones? Definitely not.
You may not realize it, but not all types of bones are the same. Poultry bones, like those found in turkey and chicken, are not very robust. Poultry bones are extremely brittle and can break or splinter into small, dangerous pieces.
15 Types of Foods You Should Never Give Your Dog
There are certain foods your furry best friend needs to stay away from. Some can cause an upset stomach and vomiting, while others are choking hazards—and then some foods are just plain toxic.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, these are the top human foods dogs should not eat:1. Alcohol
4. Coffee and caffeine
6. Coconut and coconut oil
7. Grapes and raisins
8. Macadamia nuts
9. Dairy products
11. Onion, garlic, and chives
12. Raw/undercooked meat or eggs
13. Salt and salty snack foods
14. Xylitol (a sweetener in many products like gum, candy, and baked goods)
15. Yeast dough
How to Keep Human Food
Away From Mischievous Dogs
Even if you're vigilant about not giving your dog table scraps or other people food, your pooch may have other ideas. Never underestimate a dog's ability to find and eat foods they shouldn't be eating.
Do not, under any circumstances, leave food out. This means don't leave food out anywhere unattended—places like the kitchen counter, the dining room table, and the living room coffee table aren't safe. If you leave food somewhere and your dog can reach it, they will.
If your dog is a jumper or ultra aggressive around food, it may be safer to crate him or train him to lay down while you're cooking or eating. Some dog owners put up a baby gate between the dog and the kitchen, while others may lock them in another room while food is around.
It may feel sad not to give in to your dog's begging and feed him human food all the time, but you're doing him a favor by protecting his health. Can dogs eat turkey on Thanksgiving? Sure. But should dogs eat turkey every single day, along with other people foods? No. Special, non-toxic treats are okay once in a while, but don't make a habit out of feeding your pup table scraps.
Still disappointed? An Emory University study found that when it comes down to food or praise from their owners, the majority of dogs either preferred praise, or they appeared to like both equally. So, if you want to make your dog happy, praise him for a job well done when he's not begging during dinner.
Feeding your pets a healthy diet is one way to keep them safe. Another idea? Pet insurance. Contact your local Pekin Insurance agent to learn more.