Can Dogs Eat Turkey Bones?

chihuahua and bone
credit: cynoclub/iStock/GettyImages

We've all heard the phrase "throw a dog a bone." Just make sure that bone doesn't come from a turkey! Poultry bones, like chicken or turkey bones, are extremely commonplace in American households. Dog owners, however, must make sure their furry friends never get their paws on one of these bones.

Turkey bones are not safe for dogs.

Why are turkey bones so dangerous?

Unlike tough, marrow-filled beef bones, turkey bones are softer and more pliable, which means the can break.

When a turkey bone breaks, it creates a sharp point that can scratch or cut your dog's gastrointestinal tract. From his esophagus to his rectum, a swallowed sharp bone can cause damage throughout the entire digestive process. In the case of a punctured GI tract, a swallowed turkey bone can prove fatal.

Is there a difference between raw or cooked turkey bones?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises pet owners to feed neither cooked or raw turkey bones to their dogs.

While you should never feed your dog cooked turkey bones, some pet parents claim raw turkey bones are safe. We recommend consulting a veterinarian and doing your research before considering whether raw turkey bones are right for your dog.

Warnings about dogs eating turkey bones.

Giving your dog cooked turkey bones can lead to the following problems:

  • Broken teeth
  • Mouth or tongue injuries
  • Bones stuck in the esophagus
  • Bones stuck in the windpipe
  • Bones stuck in the stomach
  • Constipation
  • Severe rectal bleeding
  • Peritonitis (a difficult-to-treat bacterial infection in the abdomen that occurs when sharp bone fragments poke holes in your dog's stomach or intestines)
Chihuahua with oversized bone on a white background
credit: cynoclub/iStock/GettyImages

Can turkey bones ever be safe?

Before dogs were domesticated, they were surely encountering animal bones in the wild. This is why raw bones can be safe and even healthy for your dog. A raw turkey bone will appeal to your dog because of its taste and the mental stimulation it provides. Gnawing on the bone also provides great exercise for your dog's jaw muscles.

Raw bones are less likely to split and create the sharp edges that are harmful to your dog. Make sure the bone is large enough that choking is not possible. Raw bones should be larger than the length of the dog's muzzle, making it impossible to swallow. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before feeding your dog a raw turkey bone.

What to do if your dog eats a cooked turkey bone.

If your dog accidentally ingests a whole or a part of a turkey bone, remain calm. If the dog hasn't swallowed it yet, try to gently remove the bone from his mouth. Once a bone is indeed ingested, it doesn't necessarily mean it has splintered.

Watch your dog carefully and ask your veterinarian about the signs and symptoms of internal bleeding or blockages. According to the American Kennel Club, something may be wrong if your dog is tired, constipated, vomiting, has bloody stool, appears bloated or seems generally uncomfortable after ingesting a bone. If these symptoms arise, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Conclusion

Remember, the general rule of thumb is to never give your dog a cooked turkey bone. Cooked bones can easily split and do serious harm throughout your dog's digestive system. Raw bones can be a safe alternative that your dog will enjoy, but weigh the pros and cons before feeding your dog one. If a bone is ingested, stay calm, watch your pup for any signs of trouble and be sure to consult with your veterinarian.

Are you ready to learn more about your dog's diet? Learn the rules of serving potatoes to your pup, and then read why both ham and garlic are harmful to dogs.