Can Dogs Eat Turkey Breasts?

It looks delicious but how good is turkey breast for your dog? ¹

Every year, more than 46 million turkeys are killed at Thanksgiving alone, and more than 22 million turkeys are killed at Christmas.

With this amount of turkeys killed and eaten across the US, it’s only natural that you wonder if your pets can have some.

Sharing some of your delicious turkey meals with our dog can be very tempting, especially if they’re literally begging for some. 

Well, dogs can eat turkey breasts, they are very nutritious and great for dogs.

In fact, turkey meat is the perfect alternative for chicken, for dogs that are allergic to chicken.

But turkey breasts for dogs have to be carefully prepared to avoid making your dog sick.

Similar cautions you’d take when giving your dog chicken, also applies to turkey meat.  

What are the advantages of using turkey breast?

If you’re wondering about the benefits of turkey breasts, here are some interesting advantages of turkey:

  • Rich in protein. Turkey is a lean meat which is low in fat and rich in protein. In fact, the protein content of turkey meat is slightly higher than chicken. 
  • Good source of vitamins & minerals: Turkey meat is a source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin B6, niacin, iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus, which are all essential in the body.
  • Low in fat & cholesterol: turkey is 70% white meat and 30% dark meat, and white meat is low in fat and calories. Skinless turkey is low in fat, and regular consumption can help lower cholesterol levels. 
  • Good source of tryptophan: Turkey meat also contains the amino acid tryptophan, which produces serotonin and has an important role in boosting the immune system. Turkey is also a source of selenium, which is essential for the metabolism of the thyroid hormone. 

What is the nutrition in turkey breasts?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 3 ounces or 85 grams (g) of non-enhanced, roasted turkey breast contains:

  • 135 calories
  • 24.70 g of protein
  • 3.26 g of fat
  • 0 g of carbohydrate

Turkey meat also contains:

  • selenium
  • Zinc
  • choline
  • niacin
  • vitamins B-6
  • vitamin B-12

The dark meat of a turkey has more vitamins and minerals than the white meat, but it does have higher fat and calories.

Can dogs eat raw turkey breasts?

Despite all the recent hype around raw feeding your canines, and how it’s important that dogs eat what their wild ancestors used to eat, many pet parents are still very skeptical about feeding their pets raw meat. And they have every right to be skeptical because raw meat is not entirely safe for dogs. 

Raw meat, including raw turkey meat, may contain certain microorganisms that can be harmful to dogs and their human family members. For instance, raw turkey may contain salmonella and E. Coli, these bacteria can make your dog sick. 

And even worse is the possibility of these bacteria to be spread around your home, contaminating surfaces and putting everyone at risk of getting infected and seriously sick. Due to the risks associated with feeding raw meat, it’s not advisable to feed your dog raw turkey, or raw meat in general. 

Turkey vs chicken vs beef

Turkey, chicken and beef are all excellent sources of proteins. The proteins found in meat are very digestible for dogs and are essential in muscle-building. Chicken and turkey meat is often one of the key ingredients in many commercial dog foods, you will also find dog treats with “turkey meal” or “chicken meal” listed as one of the ingredients. 

The nutritional contents of chicken and turkey meat are almost similar, with very minimal difference. However, turkey meat contains overall fewer calories and slightly more protein than chicken. Turkey and chicken are both richer than beef, in that they contain more lean proteins, fewer calories and less fat than beef. 

Turkey and chicken also have less cholesterol than beef, but beef contains higher amounts of iron, zinc, calcium and potassium than chicken and turkey meat. When placed side by side, chicken and turkey meat are generally healthier options for dogs. 

Can dogs eat turkey slices?

Dogs can eat turkey slices, especially if it’s skinless white turkey meat. The best meat for dogs is plain, unprocessed meat with no additives. With this in mind, turkey slices for dogs should be unprocessed and unseasoned. 

When you think of turkey slices, you’re probably thinking of ready-made, store-bought turkey slices. Like the oven-roasted turkey breasts sold at Walmart for $3 for 9 oz, right? Well, those may not be healthy for your dog. 

Some ingredients in ready-made turkey breasts include: Maltodextrin, Dehydrated Turkey Broth, Onion Powder, Salt, Yeast Extract, Carrot Powder, Dextrose, Natural Flavors, Garlic Powder, Water, Gravy Seasoning, Paprika, Turmeric extract, Modified Food Starch, etc. 

If you look closely at the list of ingredients, you will find that there are some ingredients on the list that are not healthy for your dog. Some of those ingredients may irritate your pet’s stomach and cause digestive issues like vomiting and diarrhea. 

Ready-made turkey breasts are usually high in sodium/salt and generously seasoned with lots of spices and flavors, which can be unhealthy for dogs. 

I know how getting ready-made deli meat and serving it to your pooch right from the pack is very easy, but if you really love your dog and care about their health (which I know you do), then skip the deli cuts. 

Cooking your dog’s meat without unnecessary and potentially harmful seasonings may be more tasking, but it’s much healthier for your dog. You can also make your own turkey slices for your dog. Simply roast plain turkey breast and slice it up into bite-size pieces. 

How much turkey breast should I feed my dog?

The appropriate amount of turkey meat to give to our dog will depend on your dog’s weight. Usually, it should be about 3% of your dog’s weight, or between ¼ and ⅓ cups of boiled turkey meat for every 20 lbs of body weight. 

Or you can feed 30-40 grams of turkey breast for a 25 lbs dog. When selecting turkey meat for your dog, make sure you choose only skinless white meat. To avoid giving your dog too much turkey, you can alternate between chicken, turkey and fish, except if your dog is allergic to one of these. 

Are boiled turkey breasts good for my dog?

Boiled turkey breasts are excellent for your dog. If you’re looking for a replacement for chicken, turkey breasts are a great choice. The best turkey meat for dogs is boiled, unseasoned turkey breasts, and here’s an easy recipe to follow.

You will need:

  • ½ cup boneless turkey breast
  • A few cups of water

Cooking instructions:

  • Remove any fat or bones and cut the meat into small bite-size pieces 
  • Place the meat in a pan, cover with about 2-3 cups of water.
  • Cook the turkey until it is properly cooked all the way through, this will take about 20 minutes.
  • Drain the water and put the meat in a mixing bowl.
  • Share the meat into smaller portions and serve one portion with your dog’s favorite vegetables or mix with their food. You can also add canned pumpkin, carrots, green beans, or sweet potatoes, whatever your dog loves.
  • Refrigerate the remaining portions, and serve them later.

Can dogs eat smoked turkey breast?

Whether dogs can eat smoked turkey breasts or not, depends on how it was prepared, especially the seasoning and all. Ordinarily, oven-baked or smoked turkey breasts wouldn’t hurt your dog, but if it was heavily seasoned, processed and contains high amounts of salts and preservatives, then it could upset your dog’s stomach. 

Turkey breasts are safe and even great for dogs if they are unseasoned and unprocessed. Store-bought smoked turkey breasts are not healthy for your dogs, because they have been processed to improve both taste and shelf-life. These types of meats often contain high amounts of salts and some preservatives, which are unhealthy for dogs. 

If you smoked turkey breast at home (with minimal seasoning) and would love to share some with your dog, you can do that. But avoid any type of sauce because it is not recommended to feed your dog meat with sauces, as the seasoning and herbs in the sauce may upset your dog’s stomach. 

Can dogs eat frozen turkey breasts?

Yes and no. Remember how raw meat may be unhealthy because they may contain harmful bacteria? Well, dogs also shouldn’t eat raw frozen turkey breasts, because freezing meat doesn’t kill off the harmful bacteria in it. If there are some bacteria like salmonella present in turkey breast, freezing it won’t kill them. 

It will only restrict the activities of the bacteria, and prevent them from multiplying. But once the frozen meat thaws, these bacteria become active again. The only way to effectively kill bacteria is by thoroughly cooking meat to high temperatures. It’s always safer to avoid feeding your dog raw meat, especially if you’re unsure of where it’s sourced and how the birds are handled. 

Can dogs eat turkey breast every day?

Dogs can eat turkey meat every day. It’s very healthy, highly nutritious, and a rich source of lean proteins. Turkey meat is the perfect alternative for chicken, which makes it an excellent choice for dogs who are allergic to chicken. 

However, ready-made store-bought turkey breasts are not healthy for dogs because they are processed and are high in salts and chemical preservatives that can cause digestive distress in dogs. The best turkey meat for dogs is plain boiled skinless white turkey, especially boiled turkey breast. You can feed your pet turkey meat regularly, starting by adding small quantities to their normal pet food to make a balanced diet.

Photo credits

¹ Photo by stu_spivack on Flickr