Can Dogs Eat Turkey Legs

Can Dogs Eat Turkey Legs?

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Bones from turkey legs can be eaten by dogs, but they should be eaten raw. The problem with cooking bones (as you do for your Thanksgiving turkey) is that they become brittle. The problem with cooking bones (as you do for your Thanksgiving turkey) is that they become brittle. Cooked bones tend to break into smaller, sharper pieces when dogs bite on them, whereas uncooked bones don’t.

The purpose of this article is to explain the “Can Dogs Eat Turkey Legs?“.

A dog can eat turkey legs because they contain no toxic or poisonous substances.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey Legs

There is a bit more to dog food than that and heres why.

Skin flesh and bone all make up a turkey leg but the problem is that the bone is better fed raw to your dog while the flesh is better fed cooked and as for the skin your dog should not eat it either raw or cooked!

Heres what I mean.

What is wrong with turkey skin?

I’ll begin with the skin since I had such a harsh opinion of it.

Turkey skin contains 39% fat and 13% protein. 

Few people realize that it contains quite a bit of protein in addition to the fat content.

Proteins contain amino acids that aid the body of a dog in fighting disease.

In addition to being rich in vitamins B3 and B12 turkey skin contains a fair amount of iron which is essential for converting food into energy. 

But and this is a big but turkey skin may upset your dogs stomach since it contains so much fat. 

Should dogs eat turkey leg meat?

Cooked turkey leg meat is much safer for dogs to consume.

There might be some nasty bacteria in turkey meat since it is poultry. 

Campylobacter and salmonella are the most concerning as they can kill humans and their dogs at their worst. 

Raw turkey may have these bacteria but there was a lethal outbreak of salmonella in 2019 which was linked to raw turkey. 

The good news is that cooking turkey properly kills these bacteria. 

How nutritious is turkey leg meat?

The legs of a turkey are packed with nutrients. 

The fat content is only 6% (as opposed to 39% of the skins fat) and the protein content is 28%. 

Like the skin turkey leg meat contains substantial amounts of B12 and B3 as well as B2 and B6. 

There is a large amount of selenium phosphorus and zinc in the leg meat. 

Can dogs eat turkey leg bones?

Bones from turkey legs can be eaten by dogs but they should be eaten raw.

My advice about how to cook turkey flesh directly contradicts my own. 

The problem with cooking bones (as you do for your Thanksgiving turkey) is that they become brittle.

Cooked bones tend to break into smaller sharper pieces when dogs bite on them whereas uncooked bones do not.

Your dog faces two dangers from these sharp pieces of bone.

In the first place they get stuck somewhere in your dogs throat.

They also cause your dogs digestive system to be cut as they pass through. 

Unlike cooked bones raw bones tear instead of shattering. 

As a consolation the leg bone is the best bone to eat on the turkeys body.

One guiding principle is that dogs should not be given cooked bones and another principle is that they should only be given weight-bearing bones.

Many people get caught up in whether they should feed their dogs pork or beef or chicken bones which is an important consideration.

Not as important is to consider from what part of the body the bone should come- regardless of the type of animal it came from. 

Dogs benefit from heavy and dense leg bones because they are heavier denser and less likely to splinter when bitten. 

The easy and best option with turkey legs

What are your options now?

You have no easy way out after all that.

Immediately after your Thanksgiving meal you could throw a turkey leg at your dog.

That option comes with risks however since there is still skin on the bone and it has been cooked.

Your next best option would be to cut a leg off the turkey before you bake it and feed it raw to your dog.

In addition to the bone being perfectly safe for your dog you also have to worry about the raw meat containing bacteria and the fatty piece of skin.

If there is no easy solution maybe we should talk about your best option.

To me that means giving your dog cooked turkey leg meat.

The cooked bones and turkey skin should not be given to your dog. 

How to use cooked turkey bones with your dog?

You can still give your dog cooked turkey leg bones even if you can not feed your dog cooked turkey leg bones.

When we give our dogs scraps of meat or bones from meat that we cook for ourselves we are creating less waste and throwing less in the trash.

That is a great thing and can make us feel wonderful.

You could make a simple broth out of the rest of the turkey carcass instead of throwing away the cooked bones.

Afterward you can feed this broth to your dog.

For your broth you will need a large pot turkey bones lots of water apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and lots of time.

It is best to cook it for at least 24 hours to get the best results. 

At the bottom of this page is a great recipe for dogs. 

Why is turkey bone broth so good for your dog?

The benefits of eating bone broth for dogs are numerous.

So long as the bones are cooked they become soft and lots of nutrients are released from them.

The nutrients in bone broth can boost a dogs immune system.

Amino acids and gelatine are two of the most important ones.

As a result of their ability to fight “free radicals” amino acids will help boost a dogs immune system. 

The gelatine in meat helps with digestion because the jelly-like substance can seal leaks or gaps in the digestive system making it function better. 

What is wrong with smoked turkey legs?

Cooked turkey legs are not the best food to give your dog as we have explained at some length.

Turkey legs smoked over an open flame are even worse. 

Turkey legs that have been smoked will be not only brittle but also smoked.

Additionally a growing body of evidence suggests that smoked foods are associated with increased cancer risk.

Basically you only need to smoke your food not char it. 

In addition from what I have read dogs do not particularly enjoy the taste of smoked meat. 

Can dogs eat turkey giblets?

The turkey giblets are the heart liver neck and gizzard.

For those of you scratching your heads a turkeys gizzard is the muscle that grinds its food. 

When cooked all of these turkey bits are very nutritious and can be fed to your dog.

Turkey neck for example is very high in vitamin B12 and contains 22% protein.

What other vitamins does a turkey contain?

The only part of a turkey you should be cautious about is the liver.

Any animals liver contains huge amounts of vitamin A so feeding your dog a small amount of liver is advisable.

However the liver of a turkey is so small that your dog should be fine as long as they do not overdose on all the neighbors’ turkey giblets?


I think I just popped your Thanksgiving turkey dog bubble.

If you picture yourself tearing off a turkey leg and throwing it to Fido at the end of your main meal I apologize. You certainly can and if you are in a haze from alcohol you probably will.

However there is a risk in doing so.

The best thing you can do for your dog is to give him some cooked turkey leg meat – just remove the skin and take it off the bone.

It is also important to keep in mind that your local veterinarian will probably be closed or only offer an emergency call-out service over Thanksgiving- with price hikes to match. Do you think that will influence your thinking?

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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