The cooked bones in your turkey are more brittle and breakable, so the parts your dog chews could potentially splinter and puncture his digestive tract, veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker writes for the website Vetstreet.com.
These sharp bone fragments can also cause bad infections in your dog’s stomach and intestines, and get stuck when your little guy is trying to get it out of his system on his next walk. Let me tell you, trying to get your dog to eat an animal laxative is not fun, so it’s better to just avoid feeding the turkey bone.
Dogs will eat bones any time of year, but the holiday season seems to be a particularly common time for them to dig into the trash or steal meat with bones off the table. Some people even give leftover turkey and chicken bones to dogs as treats.
The Reasons Why Bones Are Bad
No bones about it, that’s not a good idea. Cooked bones can splinter, puncturing the digestive tract. I always advise against giving dogs poultry or fish bones. Rib bones and pork bones also splinter easily.
What about other bones? Beef bones can shatter and perforate the intestinal tract or cause an intestinal blockage. Blockages can require emergency surgery to remove the bone.
Large or oddly shaped bones, such as T-bones, can become stuck in the esophagus, causing a dog to choke, or elsewhere in the intestinal tract. Beef vertebrae also can get stuck in the esophagus.
Choking can be a concern with dogs who gulp bones without chewing them thoroughly. And a dog can break a tooth chewing on a bone or cow hoof. That can mean an expensive repair or extraction by your veterinarian.
Dogs who eat cooked bones may suffer from the following:
- Broken teeth
- Mouth or tongue injuries
- Bones looped around the lower jaw
- Windpipe, esophagus, or gastrointestinal blockage
- Rectal bleeding
- Peritonitis–a bacterial infection of the abdomen caused by punctures in the stomach or intestines
Symptoms to Look For
Dogs should only eat raw turkey bones under supervision, on a surface that can easily be cleaned (like linoleum or tile). Watch for these symptoms, in case of infection or complications:
- Bloody stool
- Dental issues
Bones To Give Your Dog
Most raw bones that have not been cooked are edible for dogs. Raw chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef bones are soft enough to chew, eat, and digest.
That said, with all bones, there is a risk of choking if your dog swallows without thoroughly chewing, and bones that are too hard can cause damage to the teeth.
As long as you follow the safety guidelines below, these bones should be fine. Always talk to your vet first.
Recreational bones are not designed to be edible, but rather chewed by dogs. These can include large femur or hip bones from bison or beef and are filled with marrow.
These bones may have meat, cartilage, or soft tissue still attached. You can usually find these at your local butcher.
Bones with marrow are high in fat. Make sure to adjust your dog’s diet to compensate, and if your dog needs a low-fat diet, you may be better off not giving marrow-filled bones to your dog.
With raw bones and meat, there is some risk of bacterial contamination. You can reduce these risks with proper handling. Ask your vet for suggestions about the best way to safely handle and store raw bones.
Again, there are risks to giving your dog these kinds of bones, though if you follow the safety guidelines, your pup should be able to safely enjoy them.
Yes, you can feed your dog turkey safely, as long as you follow these guidelines. However, feeding table scraps to dogs on a regular basis can lead to obesity, which causes a host of problems, including diabetes, hypertension, joint stress, and hip dysplasia.
If you have any more questions, talk with your vet about how to feed turkey safely to your dog.