Gobble it Up: The Health Benefits of Turkey For Your Pets


It’s the holiday season, and that means food! 

For many families, the turkey is the proud centerpiece of the holiday meal. Of course, since your kitties and pups are full members of the family, it’s only right they participate in this tradition as well! Turkey meat is a lean and nutritious protein for your pet.

However, it’s important to bear in mind the risks of feeding your pet store-bought turkey — so that you can celebrate Thanksgiving with your pet the right way!  

Nutritional Benefits of Turkey For Dogs & Cats

Lean source of protein

As a lean meat, turkey is high in protein and lower in fat and carbs than many other meats. This makes it a healthy, protein-rich choice for both cats and dogs, especially if they are struggling to lose weight.

Protein, of course, is the bedrock of your best pal’s diet! As carnivores, your dogs and cats are designed to thrive on high levels of protein. It’s required to build muscle, fight diseases, maintain skin and coat health, and fuel all those day-to-day functions that keep your pet healthy and feeling well!

Boosts immune system

Turkey meat is also an excellent natural source of many nutrients that strengthen your buddy’s immune system. In particular, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and Zinc all support a strong immune system. Turkey is also a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Improves digestion and metabolism

Another benefit of turkey meat is that it’s gentle on the stomach and easy to digest, making it perfect for pets with sensitive stomachs.

Turkey meat also naturally contains key B-Vitamins — like B2, B3 and B12 — which help the digestive system to efficiently break down proteins. Vitamin B6 also helps regulate glucose levels, which is why turkey may be recommended for diabetic or pre-diabetic pets.

If that wasn’t enough, turkey also contains phosphorus (good for kidneys), Vitamin E (improves the function of the thyroid) and taurine (helps with digestion). It’s truly a nutritional powerhouse!

Improves quality of sleep

Tired of your pet getting the zoomies at 2 am? A turkey diet may be just the ticket to reduce that nighttime restlessness.

Turkey is high in tryptophan, which has a calming effect on your pets. (Haven’t you ever gone into a “food coma” after Thanksgiving dinner?). Regular consumption of tryptophan can help reduce stress, ensuring your cat has a relaxing catnap and your pup has sweet dreams! 

Strengthens organ function

Finally, turkey meat is a nutritious choice for your dog or cat because it naturally contains taurine. This key amino acid improves the function of the eyes, brain and heart.

Taurine is an important nutrient for dogs, but it’s an essential nutrient for cats. Cats must have enough taurine in their diet or they are at serious risk of heart issues.

Why You Shouldn’t Feed Turkey Table Scraps to Your Pet

Turkey meat is a healthy natural option for your pet, but that doesn’t mean you should feed them straight off the table. Turkey that’s intended for human consumption is a poor choice for our furry friends and family.

One of the biggest consequences of feeding your dog or cat table scraps is that it puts your best pal at risk of pancreatitis. This extremely dangerous condition is triggered by eating too much fatty food all at once, which causes your pet’s pancreas to be inflamed. It is painful for your pet and in extreme cases can even be deadly.

Your kitty or pup is especially at risk of pancreatitis if you feed them the turkey skin or fatty sections that you carve off the turkey.

Can My Pet Eat Thanksgiving Turkey?

One of the most important considerations before sharing your Thanksgiving turkey with Fido or Whiskers is to remember that we almost never eat just turkey! Seasonings, garnishes, glazings and rubs enhance the turkey experience for us — but they do the opposite for our pets. 

Garlic, onion, and chive are all unhealthy for your pet in small amounts, and even dangerous if they consume enough. That’s why the American Kennel Club advises that even though turkey in its natural form is quite healthy for your pets, Thanksgiving turkey is not:

“Thanksgiving turkeys, however, are rarely cooked plain. We rub our birds with butter and oils and season them with salt, pepper, herbs, and spices. We stuff them full of stuffing, onions, garlic, and more herbs. To us, this is delicious. For our dogs, it is a recipe for unpleasant digestive upset at best, and pancreatitis at worst.”

Can My Pet Eat Deep-Fried Turkey?

Deep-fried turkey is quickly becoming a fun new way to serve the bird on Thanksgiving. For many families, deep-fried turkey is quicker and easier than traditional cooking (leaving more time to focus on the many, MANY other dishes!). 

Of course, the increased convenience is balanced out by the reduced health value of the end result. Deep-frying your Thanksgiving turkey adds even more saturated fats and trans-fats to an already fatty meal!

For humans, one hearty meal of deep-fried turkey is nothing a few hard gym sessions can’t fix — but our pets are much smaller than us, with specialized digestive systems, and are therefore less tolerant of a sudden fatty meal.

Deep-fried turkey has a much higher risk of triggering pancreatitis than turkey cooked normally. Even if it doesn’t trigger that dangerous condition, the added saturated fats are very poor for your pup’s or kitty’s heart health.

Can My Pet Eat Cooked Turkey Bones?

You should never give any of your pets cooked turkey bones (or chicken bones, or any other cooked bones!). Unlike raw bones, cooked bones are dangerously brittle and can easily snap, leaving sharp edges that can cut the inside of your pet’s mouth, throat or stomach.

Can My Pet Eat Turkey Deli Meat?

Most humans love a good turkey sandwich — and most dogs and cats beg for a bite — but that doesn’t mean cold-cut meats are right for your pets!

Deli turkey meat is low in nutritional value compared to unprocessed turkey, and it contains high levels of sodium nitrate and preservatives. These high sodium levels are bad for your pet’s vital organs and can even lead to hypertension.

Can My Pet Eat Raw Turkey?

So, you know that cooked, deep-fried, glazed or processed turkey isn’t good for your pet — but what about feeding it to them before any of that happens? Scraps of plain, raw turkey couldn’t possibly be bad for your little carnivore — right?!

Actually, there are also serious risks to consider if you give your dog or cat bits of raw store-bought turkey before it goes in the oven. As pet insurance company Pumpkin points out: 

“Throwing raw turkey from your dinner preparations into the dog bowl is not a good idea, as there could be salmonella on the meat. Turkey meant for human consumption has been prepared with the assumption that the meat will be consumed after proper cooking. This kills any harmful bacteria that may be on the skin or the meat itself. In a raw dog food diet, manufacturers prepare the meat to be consumed raw.”

What’s the Best Way to Feed Turkey to My Dog or Cat?

With all the risks that come with feeding your pets turkey made for human consumption, the best way to get turkey into your pet’s diet is with real, natural, raw turkey prepared specially for your pet.

Here at Nature’s Advantage, pet food is our only passion! All our food is freeze-dried through our proprietary 48-hour process — making it safe for your dog or cat to consume, while still retaining the natural nutrition of raw, natural meat and veggies.

Nature’s Advantage turkey food and treats are made with high quality meat for your best pal, and include no artificial preservatives, grains or rendered byproducts.

There’s no reason you and your best pals can’t enjoy the taste of real turkey together this holiday season — and enjoy all the healthy benefits!

Just remember to keep your Thanksgiving meal on your plate — and Nature’s Advantage in Fido’s bowl!

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