The fact brooks absolutely no argument—turkey sausages can be mouth-wateringly delicious. Understandable, then, why your dog is turning on those puppy-dog eyes at full intensity, begging for his or her own turkey sausage treat!
However, just because pet parents can eat as many turkey sausages as they want, does it mean that their fur babies should also follow in the same footsteps? Does ‘can’ equal ‘should’?
Before you turn those Thanksgiving leftovers into sausages and treats for your pupper, here are all the reasons why you shouldn’t.
Why You Shouldn’t Feed Your Dog Turkey Sausages
Whether they’re store bought or homemade, your dog probably cannot wait to get his or her paws on those turkey sausages! As a pet parent, it’s super easy to give into the temptation of feeding your dog tasty, great-smelling foods as treats—and turkey sausages perfectly fit the bill.
However, just because your dog can eat a turkey sausage (by which we mean chew on one and swallow it), it doesn’t mean that you should be feeding your dog a turkey sausage (or any sausage, for that matter, but that’s a story for another day).
Sausages, especially store-bought ones, most often contain high amounts of salt, seasoning, fat, grease, onion and garlic. While individually most of these components may not be toxic to your dog, the combination certainly is.
Sausages, in general, are too fatty to be a regular feature in your dog’s diet and in the long term, can cause heart and kidney issues, as well as inflamed pancreas. Turkey sausages are no different, dripping with fat, grease and non-dog-friendly seasoning.
In addition, processed meat is going to wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive capabilities, both in the short and long term.
Some owners even generously drizzle turkey sausage grease over their pet’s food—while this will have your dog’s tail wagging at a thousand wags per minute, you’re also probably going to be dealing with diarrhea, nausea and digestive issues later.
The grease has high amounts of fat and salt, both of which are extremely unhealthy to dogs, especially those with existing heart issues or pancreatitis.
Some turkey sausages may have garlic and onion powder in them instead of the real thing. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make them any healthier—it only increases the toxicity and makes your dog prone to anemia.
Related: Can Dogs Eat Hot Dogs?
Wait—Isn’t Turkey Good for Dogs?
A valid question, considering that many dog-food brands incorporate turkey into the kibble. It’s understandable why—turkey is rich in nutrients like phosphorus, protein and riboflavin.
When cooked plain, without any extra seasoning and spices, turkey can add a ton of nutritional goodness to your dog’s meal.
However, when you’re preparing turkey for yourself, such as for Thanksgiving, you’re hardly going to cook it plain. Butter, oils, spices, salt, herbs, pepper, garlic, onions and stuffing are going to find their way into the turkey dish.
While this is mouth-wateringly delicious to humans, that’s hardly the case for our canine buddies. Instead, it’s a sure shot at digestive discomfort and even pancreatitis.
No Homemade, Raw, Cooked or Dark Turkey Either?
As established earlier, turkey is a good source of protein and other nutrients. So feeding your dog turkey isn’t the problem—it’s the sausages. But given that turkey sausages can be a rich source of turkey meat, is there some way you can work them into your dog’s diet?
If the turkey is cooked at home and unseasoned, with absolutely no grease, fat, gravy or seasoning, you will be feeding your dog quite a healthy meal. Turkey cooked plain and twisted into sausage shapes are a good idea.
The fad of feeding dogs raw meat has found quite a bit of popularity in the recent years. Many dog owners swear by this meal plan, stating that it’s healthier and much closer to their dog’s instinctive eating patterns.
However, this logic can’t justify feeding your dog raw sausage—he or she is hardly likely to find a well-seasoned, fatty, greasy, perfectly-shaped turkey sausage in the wild! Raw meat, in any case, presents a higher risk of illness, owing to bacterial contamination and salmonella, leading to diarrhea, nausea and worse.
Additionally, it’s not as though the seasoning and fat are absent in turkey sausages that are in their raw form—they’re still there and still going to harm your dog. Many vets also do not recommend that raw meat be fed to unhealthy dogs or young puppers.
Ergo, raw turkey sausages—a big ‘no’!
Dark Turkey Meat
What about the dark part of turkey meat? Can you feed your dog this?
Turns out that you can! The darker meat is the muscle, containing more myoglobin—hence, the dark color. This is healthier, so go ahead and turn that thigh meat into a sausage for your doggo.
Sure, cooked meat is definitely healthier than raw meat and can be a great source of healthy lean protein.
However, as it is with raw sausages, the seasoning, fat and grease are already present and they’re not going away with a little bit of pan searing! Even when cooked, the seasoning and fat remain.
Related: Can Dogs Eat Crackers?
But My Dog Really Seems to Enjoy Turkey Sausages!
Let’s face it—dogs don’t have the most discriminating palate and will look at any food with the same longing and enthusiasm, including dead squirrels and poo. So while the beseeching look may look like it’s stemming from a place of deep want and need, it’s just your dog being your dog and you shouldn’t be giving into that look at all.
If your dog is hell bent on eating turkey though, here’s how to safely feed him or her the meat, without involving turkey sausages!
- Leave out the skin—it’s extremely fatty and generally seasoned, which is dangerous for dogs. These can cause pancreatitis and irritate your dog’s stomach.
- Stick to high-quality meat.
- It bears repeating—onion and garlic are strictly off-limits!
- Start with small quantities of turkey, cooked plain and add scraps of these into your dog’s food. Monitor the reaction and consult with your vet.
- Ensure that there are no bones in the meat, as these are extremely brittle when cooked and due to their small size, can lodge themselves in difficult places. Bones can cause choking, injuries to the tongue and mouth, obstruction in the intestinal tract and throat, rectal bleeding from sharp fragments, constipation and also pierce the stomach and intestinal lining.
While it may be tempting to keep slipping your dog food scraps, regularly doing so will cause obesity and a ton of other ensuing problems. No table feeding.
What If My Dog Sneakily Gets His Paws on Turkey Sausage?
Don’t panic—a small amount won’t cause much, or any harm at all. Even bigger amounts may be handled well by your dog—he’s fine unless some signs of illness or unusual behavior manifest in the next 24 hours.
The signs you should watch out for include:
- Appetite loss
- Dark-colored urine
Of course, when in doubt, call your vet immediately!
Alternatives to Turkey Sausage
There are ways to introduce turkey meat into your dog’s diet without feeding them sausages or scraps from your Thanksgiving table. You can try a turkey bone broth, which will have all the goodness of the bone and the meat, without any choking hazards or harmful seasoning.
You can also try turkey meatballs. However, it is important to prepare this at home so you can ensure the meatballs do not have any seasoning. You can use ingredients like eggs and almond flour to bind the meatballs. The former is another safe source of protein, while the latter is a grain-free and gluten-free flour that will be light on your pooch’s stomach.
Related: Can Dogs Eat Pork Rinds?
The Bottom Line
As long as the turkey sausage you’re giving your dog is free of fat, grease, seasoning and spices and preferably cooked plain, you can go ahead! These are, however, generally always present in store-bought sausages, so as a rule, stay away from those.
If you must give your dog turkey treats, there are plenty of healthier turkey-based alternatives. You can even cut some meat up (the dark or white part) and plainly cook these for your dog. As mentioned, it isn’t turkey itself that’s toxic to dogs—it’s everything else that’s added.
Additionally, if you’re making a meal out of turkey sausages (the right kind), bear in mind your dog’s calorie requirements. You don’t want to cause obesity in your dog.
For small dogs, you may have to stop with a couple of sausages. Calculate the calorie requirements based on your dog’s breed—it’s generally 25 calories per pound of body weight, but this can vary based on a lot of other factors.
Therefore, a balanced diet is important, especially with turkey sausages. It is recommended that you make an occasional treat and not a meal in themselves. Even with treats, ensure that they’re homemade treats without harmful seasoning and fat.
Before you take the decision to incorporate turkey sausages (or any new food) into your dog’s diet, always check with your vet.
The moral of the story—your dog isn’t a convenient way to get rid of Thanksgiving leftovers and fixing up a plate of leftovers, while it may be with all good intention, could lead to a world of discomfort and pain to your dog.
So go easy on the turkey and the temptation to feed your dog a tasty treat in the form of turkey sausages—there are tons of other options that can work much better, from healthy turkey treats to turkey-flavored chew toys!