Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Turkey

The next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is turkey. We thought it appropriate to take a closer look at turkey given that it’s found in many varieties of pet food. But turkey is also going to be the main course on many tables over the holidays and it’s likely that some of that turkey falls off someone’s plate into the mouth of your pet.

What are turkeys?

We all know what turkeys are, but let’s take a closer look. The domesticated turkey, the one you find on the dinner table is the Meleagris gallopavo. The second type of turkey found in the US is the Agriocharis (or Meleagris) ocellata, or the ocellated turkey. Turkey live in woodlands, near water and live on seeds, insects, and an occasional frog or lizard. There are many varieties of turkeys, from the Broad Breasted White, the most common commercial turkey, to the Black Turkey or the Bourbon Red.

Why would it be in pet food?

Turkey is a highly desired protein found in pet food. It’s full of good nutrients and is also highly digestible, so it can be used for pets with digestive issues. Turkey is low in calories and high in Selenium and Tryptophan both of which benefit the immune system.

Are there any risks to feeding your pet turkey?

Turkey is a good, lower calorie protein to feed your pets. When we say that, we’re thinking of basic white meat turkey, not the buttered up, seasoned bird on your table. You should NOT feed them turkey bones as they can splinter and avoid the extras, turkey skin, gravy, etc. They are too rich for dog’s intestines. Same with dark meat, it’s a little too rich and fatty to be perfectly safe for your pet. If you want to feed your pet some of your Thanksgiving turkey, cut a small piece of white meat and serve it plain.

Turkey Factoids:

Turkeys can fly, but only for very short distances, about .25 miles. Although those that are raised on poultry farms and are too heavy to get off the ground.

Only the make turkeys gobble, and are called “gobblers,” after the “gobble” call they make to announce themselves to females.

The wild turkey was close to extinction in the early 1900s, when the population reached a low of around 30,000 birds. Restoration programs have brought the numbers up to roughly seven million today.

Pet foods that contain turkey:

American Journey™  Turkey & Chicken 

Canadian Naturals™ Turkey & Salmon

Merrick™ Backcountry Game Bird


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