This article is about what makes raw turkey or chicken necks so beneficial to our dogs’ health.
Parts That Are Safe for Dogs
White meat and dark meat are both safe and healthy for your dog. However, the white meat is leaner and is more protein-dense than the dark meat portions. So while both are safe and healthy, the white meat is considered to be ever so slightly healthier than the dark. Even healthier, though is something called turkey meal. This is created when fresh turkey is rendered (essentially a fancy cooking term for intentionally overcooking) to the point where most of the water is cooked off and what is left is something that is incredibly protein dense.
Oftentimes the turkey giblets, which can include the liver, kidneys, heart, gizzard, and neck, are included in store-bought turkeys. Most of these extras are perfectly safe for your dog to eat when fully cooked (so long as they wont be missed by any of your dinner guests). The only part that is not recommended for your dog is the neck as there are bones in that part. Even if you already feed your dog a raw meat diet, its not recommended to giving the giblets to your dog raw. Instead, wash them with water and then boil them for five to 10 minutes or sear them on the stove top for a few minutes on each side. As with any new food item, though, if you add in too much too fast you can cause a gastrointestinal flare up in your dog. So if you opt to give the turkey giblets to your dog, cut them into small pieces and portion them out as special treats over a few days.
Safely Feeding The Thanksgiving Turkey Neck To Your Dog
The turkey’s neck is made up of small, lightweight bones that are easy for most dogs to crunch up into tiny pieces, easily broken down in their acidic stomach.
It’s a wonderful source of calcium and cartilage – excellent for active dogs and senior dogs with arthritis. It also helps clean your dog’s teeth – I call it Nature’s Toothbrush!
However, if your dog does not normally eat raw bones – and even if she does – you will need to supervise her while she eats it to make sure she does not choke.
The neck is, after all, neck-shaped, meaning it can lodge in your dog’s windpipe if she gulps it down too quickly. You can hold one end while she chews to make sure that she does not try to swallow it whole.
You can also freeze it the night before Thanksgiving morning. If it’s frozen, she will have to slowly tear away pieces of the neck. This year, I gave Cow a frozen neck for Thanksgiving breakfast, though she has eaten it raw.
Remember: cooked bones are dangerous.
I’ll write it again because it’s really that important:
“Cooked” includes boiled, steamed, fried, baked, even dehydrated, freeze-dried and smoked bones found at your pet supply store can be dangerous. Cooking causes the structure of the bone to become hard and splintery.
Do not cook the turkey neck before you feed it, and do not let your dog have any turkey bone after cooking. For dinner, pieces of white meat without visible fat or skin is totally fine.
For Cow, a turkey neck is almost twice the weight of her average meal, so it’s a feast, but it’s not too much for her to handle. She’s about 27 pounds.
If I had two turkey necks, I’d chop one into chunks and give it to Matilda over a few weeks. The pieces would need to be about the size of her head or bigger to encourage her to rip off small pieces instead of trying to swallow the whole chunk. I would definitely freeze it for her to slow her down because she is a wild eater.
As with any raw meat, wash your hands after handling, as well as any surface the meat touches. Most dogs can handle raw meat because they have a short, acidic digestive tract that keeps bacteria from festering in their body long enough to make them ill.
If your dog normally eats kibble or other processed food, the turkey neck can make them sick because they are not used to it. However, I used to give Cow the turkey neck when she ate kibble and she was fine.
Don’t want to feed the turkey neck? Use it to make bone broth!
Feeding your dog raw poultry necks: rule of thumb
A raw meaty bone shouldn’t be much larger than a dog’s mouth, especially if they have the tendency of gulping food, which is why different poultry necks are good for different size dogs.
Chicken necks are a good option for smaller dogs and puppies, while duck necks and turkey necks work well for medium to large dogs. Duck necks are about the same size and length as female turkey necks. Male turkey necks are thicker.
Here’s Maltese mix Rocky tasting a raw chicken neck:
Can I give my dog a raw turkey neck?
Can dogs eat raw turkey gizzards and hearts?
How do you cook turkey giblets for dogs?