Feeding your dog any meat-based product involves a degree of risk. Turkey is a source of salmonella, as is any form of raw poultry, so undercooked turkey is no more recommended for your pet than it is for you. However, many people feed their dogs raw foods without ill effect. Your dog can digest raw meats of all kinds, so if you are willing to invest extra effort in feeding her, she should be OK eating raw or undercooked turkey.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends against feeding any “animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens,” including raw turkey, to their pets. Raw food diets designed for dogs abound, however, and raw turkey is typically part of home-cooked dog diets. Special handling is required to keep you and your family safe while feeding your dog raw foods, but no existing reports associate raw dog food diets with human illness.
Dogs are able to digest foods that human beings cannot. However, while raw turkey can be good for dogs, it is best that they do not eat turkey — or any foods — that have been only partly cooked. Undercooked turkey may harbor salmonella because the internal temperature of the meat was never raised to the point at which bacteria are killed. Dogs may become ill due to the bacteria that remain in the meat or, even if they do not become ill, they may develop subclinical illnesses from the salmonella still present in the meat. Subclinical illnesses, which exist within dogs without their showing symptoms, still pose risk to humans and to other animals in the household.
Turkey Necks and Ground Turkey
Raw food diets include turkey necks as raw meaty bones. Raw meaty bones consist of raw meat and soft edible bone and can be consumed in their entirety. Some individuals feed raw turkey necks to their dogs for teeth-cleaning purposes, in addition to the calcium they provide. Raw turkey meat can also be ground before feeding it to your dog. Even when bone is ground with the meat, ground meat does not clean your dog’s teeth the way that whole turkey necks do.
An illness that can pass between a pet and her owner is called a zoonosis. If your dog has a subclinical case of salmonellosis from raw or undercooked food, she can pass that illness on to humans in her household. These illnesses are particularly dangerous to very young or very old members of the household, pregnant women and individuals with immune systems not functioning at their highest levels. Regular hand-washing and keeping your pet’s feeding area clean will help reduce the spread of salmonella between you and your pet.