Love Your Pet: Is turkey poisonous for dogs?

Every year about this time, we hear or read that turkey meat or fat is poisonous for dogs. Is this true?


The short answer is no. Dr. Richard Fujie from the King Street Pet Hospital says it baffles him. “During my whole career as a veterinarian, I’ve consistently received this question. I’m not sure where it originated but no, turkey is not poisonous for dogs or cats.”


Eating the bones and large amount of oils and fat can cause problems in dogs, however. The turkey bones can cause physical injury to the stomach and intestines. “We occasionally will have a dog come in with a bone jammed in the teeth or jaw, or stuck in the esophagus or food tube. The bones can also block the intestines. Gagging, vomiting, diarrhea and no appetite are some signs owners will see with this problem,” warms Dr. Fujie.


It is possible that the idea of turkey being toxic for dogs arose with the medical condition called pancreatitis, when the pancreas becomes inflamed and swollen. “The pancreas is an digestive organ attached to the small intestines just past the stomach. It produces the digestive enzymes and insulin. One of the triggers for pancreatitis can be when a dog eats a large fatty meal, this organ becomes swollen and starts to self-digest. The condition is painful and signs owners may see are vomiting, not eating, diarrhea, and increase in water consumption,” adds Dr. Fujie.


This is a life threatening condition, so although turkey is not toxic to dogs, he advises you should be careful not to give them a large amount of oily foods during the holidays.

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