Can I Give My Dog Turkey Bones?

Who remembers the Bumpus hounds from “A Christmas Story”? Pretty funny when they break in the house and steal the Thanksgiving turkey, right? Well, as long as it isn’t your turkey.

Actually, it really isn’t funny for those dogs at all. You should never let your dog eat turkey bones or other leftovers. This Thanksgiving, let’s keep both our turkey and our dogs safe with these tips.

Can My Dog Eat Turkey Bones?

Cooked bones from any animal should never be given to your dog, but especially turkey bones or chicken bones. Any kind of cooked bone will splinter when your dog chews on it. Turkey bones and chicken bones are especially brittle, and will break into small, sharp pieces when they are chewed. 

What starts out as a fun and delicious treat can quickly turn into a medical emergency.

Why Can’t My Dog Eat Turkey Bones?

When a dog chews on bones, there are a few different things that can happen. 

Bones, especially cooked bones, turkey bones, and chicken bones, can break into very sharp pieces. Those sharp pieces can stab your dog in the mouth, the throat, the stomach, or even the intestines. This can cause severe pain for your dog, and potentially an emergency with a very sick dog if the intestines get holes poked in them.

Bone pieces can get stuck in your dog’s stomach or intestines, causing a blockage that may need surgery to resolve. Or they can make your dog severely constipated. (Nobody likes a constipated dog…)

If the bones do make it all the way through, sharp bone pieces can cause pain and bleeding when they are passed out with the stool.

Other types of bones can get stuck on your dog’s lower jaw, in their mouth, or in their throat, needing anesthesia and sometimes surgery to remove.

How to Keep Bones and Other Leftovers Away From Your Dog

Even the best-behaved pets can lose their manners when there is a yummy-smelling treat nearby. Follow these tips to help keep your dogs away from your delicious dinner.

  1. Don’t make a habit of feeding your dog from the table. This can lead to begging, and even them helping themselves when you aren’t around.
  2. Keep the turkey covered. The crinkle of aluminum foil is often enough to discourage even the most dedicated counter-surfer.
  3. Keep the turkey and all other food out of your dog’s reach. A tall table, a high counter, or an elevated bar are great places to set up your dinner buffet. 
  4. Put away leftovers as soon as your family is finished eating. Get the temptation out of sight and smell!
  5. Take out the trash. Dogs who would never get in the trash can on a regular day may not be able to resist the temptation of the delicious turkey smells of leftovers in the trash can. Get it outside to the garbage cans as soon as you can.

If you know that your dog has gotten into the turkey bones, or if they are not acting right and you aren’t sure why, call us right away. Your dog may need immediate medical attention.

Did your dog or cat get into turkey bones or other people foods? We can help! Call us if you have questions or come in during our regular business hours. The Princeton Veterinary Hospital always accepts new patients and does not require appointments.