Can dogs eat turkey necks? Yes, if they’re raw!
Turkey necks, chicken and duck necks fall into the category of raw meaty bones (RMBs). Without them, a raw diet cannot be considered a balanced one.
That’s because raw bones for dogs:
Even if your dog is not on a raw diet, he can still benefit from chewing on a raw turkey neck.
Poultry necks in particular are chock full of glucosamine and chondroitin, which are important for joint health and a wonderful means of preventing arthritis if fed on a regular basis.
I’ve seen the benefits of feeding my two Boxer mixes raw meaty bones on a regular basis.
I believe dogs should be offered raw bones such as turkey necks several times per week. Just make sure they are, in fact, raw. Cooked bones become more brittle.
Canine digestive systems are highly acidic and designed to effortlessly break down raw meaty bones such as turkey and chicken necks. So there’s no need to worry about their digestibility – just feed them raw.
See my general post, how to safely feed a dog raw bones.
Tip: Raw poultry necks can also be used to make bone broth. I shared a recipe for homemade bone broth here.
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Benefits of Turkey Necks for Dogs
Cleans TeethEncourage chewing may help remove plaque and tartar.
Mental Enrichment Provides mental stimulation and may help relieve stress.
The belief that chews like turkey necks help to keep our pup’s teeth clean is just one of the reasons these treats are so popular. Certainly, the action of chewing something hard may help to reduce plaque and tartar, however, there aren’t currently any studies that prove these benefits. So, though they may be of some benefit in helping to keep your dog’s teeth clean, turkey necks should not replace routine dental care and regular vet checks. Any possible benefits would also be reduced in dogs that swallow these treats quickly, with little chewing!
Chewing is a natural behaviour for dogs and is both fun and stimulating for your pup. Providing an appropriate item for your dog to chew on also helps keep them away from inappropriate objects, like your shoes! Chewing can also help reduce boredom and is even believed to relieve stress. Turkey necks generally last for around 20-30 minutes, but may be less if your pup is a speedy chewer!
The cartilage and connective tissue found in natural chews, like turkey necks, contains chondroitin and glucosamine, the building blocks of cartilage. These ingredients are commonly found in supplements designed to promote joint health in dogs with osteoarthritis.
Though these ingredients may have a positive effect, there is currently no evidence available to determine the quantities present in turkey necks and whether this is clinically beneficial to dogs with joint disease. If your dog is suffering from joint problems, they require a diagnosis and treatment plan from a veterinarian.
Note: Nutritional analysis will vary slightly between products, individual batches, and will depend on the preserving method used.
Turkey necks are high in protein which is essential for muscle development, healthy skin and coat, and the production of hormones and enzymes – just to name a few of its many functions! Growing puppies naturally have a higher requirement for protein than adult dogs, though highly active dogs may also benefit from extra protein in their diet. Whilst most healthy dogs will tolerate high protein treats, they are best avoided in dogs with underlying kidney or liver disease.
Turkey necks are also relatively high in fat which can be an excellent source of energy, especially for active dogs. Fat also helps to absorb and utilise fat-soluble vitamins and is a source of essential fatty acids which contribute to healthy skin and coat and reduce inflammation. Turkey necks and other high fat treats should be avoided in overweight dogs or those with pancreatitis, diabetes or gastrointestinal problems.
Turkey necks contain calcium and phosphorus which are essential structural components of teeth and bones. Calcium is also responsible for many other vital bodily functions including hormone secretion, muscle contractions, and normal constriction and dilation of blood vessels. Turkey necks also contain high levels of B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, which is involved in the production of essential proteins and red blood cells and is also required for the reaction of several enzymes.
They also contain essential trace minerals such as iron, copper, selenium, and zinc. Zinc supports a healthy immune system and is important for maintaining healthy skin and coat. Copper aids the absorption of iron, both of which are essential for normal red blood cell function. Selenium is an antioxidant that also plays a role in thyroid function and metabolism, as well as the production of DNA. Selenium may also play a protective role in helping to prevent certain types of cancer, with preliminary studies suggesting some benefit in cases of canine prostate cancer.
Because turkey necks contain connective tissue and cartilage, they will also contain glucosamine and chondroitin, the building blocks that make up healthy cartilage. Supplementation with glucosamine and chondroitin has been clinically proven to reduce the impact of osteoarthritis in affected dogs, however, their levels cannot be accurately established in turkey necks and other natural chews. If your pup is suffering from osteoarthritis, joint supplements with an established therapeutic dose of these ingredients is a better option. Joint problems including osteoarthritis need to be correctly diagnosed by a veterinarian who will then recommend a suitable treatment plan.
Turkey necks are moderate to high in calories, with dehydrated chews higher in calories per kilogram than fresh turkey necks. Expect approximately 130 calories per dehydrated turkey neck chew, which for reference would be nearly 25% of the expected daily calorie requirement for a 30lb dog!
Due to their moderate to high calorie content, turkey necks should only be given as an occasional treat to avoid unwanted weight gain. Feeding one dehydrated turkey neck 1 to 2 times a week is more than enough for a medium-sized dog. Turkey necks should not replace a complete and balanced diet and are best avoided in overweight dogs. If your dog has any underlying health issues like pancreatitis, diabetes, or kidney disease, it’s always best to speak to a veterinarian before changing their diet or adding in new treats.
Can I give my dog a cooked turkey neck?
Chances are, it would be OK. But it is not worth the risk.
Neck bones should always be fed raw, not cooked. This is because raw bones are soft and pliable, meaning they won’t splinter. Whereas cooked bones become bristle and can break and splinter with the potential of causing injuries both in your dog’s mouth and intestines.
That being said, if your uncle happened to give your dog some cooked turkey bones on Thanksgiving, chances are your dog will be OK.
Dogs do have a highly acidic digestive system, as I keep mentioning. Just avoid feeding cooked bones in the future due to the fact that cooked bones are brittle and are more likely to be sharp.
Can dogs eat cooked turkey necks?
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