Turkey is one of the most commonly found meat ingredients in quality dog food, and it is often used as a substitute for chicken. Some dogs are sensitive to chicken but do not seem to have the same sensitivity to turkey. Anyone who has ever sat down to investigate dog food products and to try to find the one best suited for your dog will recognize this ingredient, and it is not hard to guess that yes – dogs can eat turkey, and it can be hugely beneficial for them both when fed in dog food and as an additional low-fat meaty treat.
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Turkey in Dog Food
The chicken was once one of the most commonly found meat ingredients in dog food, but as more dogs seem to be showing signs of a sensibility to chicken, or even a chicken allergy, many premium dog food brands have started offering the alternative of dog food made with turkey instead. Turkey is an easily digestible meat ingredient that contains plenty of nutrients, and you usually know you have found a quality dog food if the real turkey is listed first among the ingredients.
However, remember that turkey contains a large quantity of water; often making it seem like a dog food product contains more meat than it actually does, so it is always good if the real turkey is followed by turkey meal – as this is a quality ingredient that has already been stripped from the water content. You should do your best to find an organic dog food option, with organic turkey.
Remember that food packaging often lies, as there are no laws to prevent a dog food company to put a picture of a turkey on the bag, even though it might only contain artificial turkey flavor. Make it a habit to always read through the ingredients in your dog’s food and treats and look for a real meat source where turkey is listed among the first ingredients.
Health Benefits of Feeding Turkey to Dogs
Turkey has a moderate but good amount of fatty acids like Omega-3, which is known to help boost the immune system, manage skin allergies, regulate clotting of the blood and improve eye health. It is also rich in riboflavin – Vitamin B2 – a vitamin that produces essential energy and helps prevent bladder stones. Turkey is rich in healthy protein when cooked and used the right way, and it has phosphorus to promote healthy digestion and help the dog’s metabolism function correctly.
As if this wasn’t enough, turkey also contains selenium to boost brain function and cognitive health – something known to be especially beneficial as your dog grows older. Selenium also works to prevent oxidative damage – a process often linked to the development of certain types of cancer.
All dogs need protein in their food, as it is part of their natural diet and something to give them energy for a whole day of running around and fun. Turkey is an excellent option for dogs with food restrictions and for the dogs that need a leaner meat product than for example beef, as the turkey is easy for the digestive system to process and properly handle.
Are All Turkey Products Okay for Dogs?
So, perhaps you have seen that your dog’s kibble contains turkey, and then you go on to think that the sliced sandwich meat (deli meat) you keep in the fridge might make for an excellent training treat! It is also turkey, so why not? The truth is that these types of products will often contain too much sodium (salt) for them to be healthy for our dogs, especially if fed frequently and in larger quantities. It looks meaty and delicious – and it is – but the processing used when producing the product makes it a less recommended turkey presentation when planning to provide it to our dogs.
The best way to feed turkey to a dog; apart from dog food and turkey-based dog treats, is by purchasing unsalted Turkey meat from the store, a butcher or a local farm, cook it yourself without adding any condiments and feed it in small portions to your dogs. This way you know exactly what has been used to prepare the meat, and you can rest assured that your dog is only getting the best and most natural meat snack that there is.
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Never feed your dog turkey that contains- or that may contain bones, as turkey bones (and chicken bones) are too thin to be considered safe. They may splinter inside your dog’s stomach or cause serious harm on the way down if the bone is sharp, so always be extremely careful when checking for bones, before feeding turkey to your dog. Some inexperienced dog owners may be of the impression that bones are good for our four-legged friends, and while it is true to some extent – it depends on the type of bone, and turkey bones should be avoided at all costs.
Look out for garlic and onion
There are many reasons to why you shouldn’t feed your dog table scraps; obesity being one of them, and human food containing potentially harmful ingredients is another. You probably shouldn’t feed leftovers from that Thanksgiving turkey to your beloved fur friend, as turkey cooked for humans will often have been salted, and possibly also paired with garlic and onion. Both garlic and onion are on the list of foods that you should never feed your dog, and that might be potentially dangerous for sensitive canine digestive systems. Many fail to think of this as they discretely slide the leftovers over to the awaiting dog – but in these cases, your admirable intentions could cause more harm than good.
Turkey – a Great Protein Source When Fed Right
The simple answer is that yes, turkey is great for dogs and a healthy and lean meat product to include in their daily diet. The long answer is somewhat more complicated, but it essentially comes down to knowing how to feed turkey to your dog, and what turkey products are better than others. Wanting what is best for your dogs is all about research and knowledge and knowing how to properly feed your fur friends. Turkey is worth looking into, as it – when used right – can set your pup up for a long, healthy and great life alongside you and your family.