I regularly feed my dogs a raw meat diet. I’ve seen the benefits of feeding my two Boxer mixes raw meaty bones (RMBs) 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.
This article is about what makes poultry necks such as turkey or chicken necks so beneficial to our dogs’ health. So even if you feed your dog dry food, your pup can still enjoy and benefit from a raw turkey neck at Thanksgiving!
Can dogs eat turkey necks? Yes, if they’re raw!
Can dogs eat turkey necks, chicken necks and duck 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:
- Contain the calcium & phosphorus necessary for healthy bones and strong muscles
- Exercise the jaws
- Clean the teeth
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.
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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Feeding your dog raw poultry necks: general 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:
How to feed raw chicken necks to your dog
You can either feed the necks outside or inside.
If you feed them outside, I’d suggest a grassy area, but depending on the weather and your location, this may not always be feasible.
When feeding them inside, I would either put a towel under my dogs’ bowls that I would then toss into the wash after they were done eating, or feed them the raw meaty bone in their crates without the addition of any bedding. Both options meant clean up was a breeze since I’d just have to wash the towel or wipe down the crate tray.
Can I give my dog a cooked turkey neck?
N O !
Remember to always feed necks raw, n e v e r cooked. 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.
If your dog isn’t used to the taste and (lack) of smell of fresh meat compared to synthetically sprayed kibble, you can try pouring some warm or even hot water over the raw meaty bone. It’ll help bring out the smell of the meat, but it won’t cook it.
Now, that being said, if your dog happened to eat a cooked turkey neck or cooked chicken bones, chances are he will be just fine. 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.
What about frozen chicken necks for dogs?
It’s OK to feed frozen chicken necks to dogs as long as their teeth are in good health. As a matter of fact, it’s a great refreshing food on hot summer days, and it’ll also last longer than a raw chicken neck. Remember, chewing is a natural behavior for dogs and promotes mental health as much as it keeps their teeth clean and gums healthy!
If you’re unsure of your dog’s ability to eat a frozen chicken neck, try offering it partially thawed.
Are chicken and turkey necks a choking hazard for dogs?
Technically speaking, everything a dog puts in his mouth can be a potential chocking hazard. That’s why it’s important to:
- Teach your dog how to safely and politely eat raw chicken and turkey necks
- Always supervise your dog’s chewing sessions
- Offer your dog the right size neck (chicken vs duck vs turkey)
To teach your dog how to properly and politely eat a raw chicken, duck, or turkey neck, hold the neck in one hand while you offer it to your pup. Let him chew on the other end but keep holding your end, just like I did with Rocky in the picture I shared earlier.
It’s OK for your dog to only crunch down on the neck a few times, you just don’t want him to swallow it whole. The positive side effect of this exercise is that your pup will learn to accept your human hand on his food. Great for avoiding possessive behavior around food!
My dog swallowed a turkey neck whole!
Don’t be surprised if a raw poultry neck disappears with only 3 to 4 crunches, that’s really all it takes for a dog to eat one of those. Do make sure though that a few crunches happen and that the neck isn’t gulped down in one piece. If your dog has a tendency of swallowing food whole, hold the raw neck on one end, just like I did in the picture above with Rocky.
If your dog surprised you and already swallowed a chicken or turkey neck whole, he will be just fine. Again, dogs have highly acidic digestive systems for digesting raw bone. Just try to avoid this in the future due to the slight choking hazard, depending on the size of your dog.
If you hold one end of the neck (watch your fingers though!), it will prompt your dog to take several bites instead of a huge one. It also teaches polite behavior around food in general.
How my dog Wally eats a raw turkey neck
Here’s a video of my pup Wally demonstrating how to eat a raw turkey neck. You can see it helps to hold onto the end to prevent your dog from trying to swallow the whole thing!
I’m sharing this because it shows my dog calmly eating his bone without any gulping, all while respecting my commands as well as my hand.
Where to buy raw chicken and turkey necks for your dog
1. Chicken necks at grocery stores
Most local grocery stores carry turkey necks, and so does Walmart.
2. Duck necks from Raw Paws
If you can’t find chicken or duck necks at a local farm or butcher, you can simply order them from raw feeding online retailers such as Raw Paws. I used to buy duck necks from them for quite some time since I couldn’t source them locally.
Order ducks necks from Raw Paws online HERE.
3. Turkey sales
Dogs can eat turkey necks as well as chicken necks, so be on the lookout for turkey (and chicken) deals after the holidays. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, grocery stores have their surplus of whole big birds for sale, including necks, gizzards and hearts. I wrote about how I saved a pretty penny in my post Turkey deals after the holidays.
Dehydrated or freeze-dried chicken necks as an alternative to raw chicken necks
If you’re not quite ready to feed your dog raw dog food, including raw chicken necks or other bones, you can buy them dehydrated or freeze-dried as well. Many independently owned pet retail stores carry them, particularly the kind from Vital Essentials’ Raw Bar, but of course you can also find them on Amazon.
Neither the freeze-drying or dehydrating process can be compared to cooking chicken necks because the temperatures used are considerably lower, so it’s safe to feed them.
Tip: Dehydrated or freeze-dried chicken necks are also a great option for raw feeders who travel or hike with their raw-fed dogs. They’re easy to carry in a backpack and obviously a lot less messy than raw necks.
Just a little FYI: It’s actually possible to rehydrate them and feed them raw – just let them soak in water for a bit and they’ll take on their original form.
A little hack to resize poultry necks
If you can’t get your hands on the right size poultry neck for your particular dog’s needs, you can always cut a larger neck into smaller pieces using (heavy duty) poultry shears. I bought mine on Amazon for just $12.99.
Can dogs eat chicken and turkey wings?
Raw chicken wings are another type of edible chicken bone, and they also fall into the raw meaty bone category because they still have meat attached.
FYI: Chicken wings consist of a little less than 50% bone and 50% meat, while chicken necks are a fairly even split of bone and meat.
They’re a great size raw meaty bone for puppies and smaller dogs. They can also be fed as a little snack to larger dogs, but only if they don’t swallow it whole.
Ideally, the raw meaty bone should be a little larger than the dog’s mouth so that they’re forced to chew on it at least a little.
Can dogs eat chicken hearts and gizzards?
Yes, absolutely. Hearts and gizzards don’t contain any bone and fall into the muscle meat category of raw dog food. They’re fairly easy to source as most grocery stores carry them.
Side note: Yes, you read that right. Hearts and gizzards are not considered organs in raw feeding. Only secreting organs such as liver, kidney, and pancreas (and a few others) are.
Tip: Check the sodium level on the packaging before buying the hearts and gizzards for your dog. It shouldn’t contain more than 400 mg per 1 lb (16 oz) of food. That’s because too much sodium isn’t good for dogs and can cause diarrhea and dehydration.
Can dogs eat turkey giblets raw?
Yes! The turkey heart, liver and gizzard make a wonderful raw treat for your dog.
What parts of a turkey can I give my dog?
You can give your dog pretty much any part of a raw turkey. Just make sure that it is in fact raw vs. cooked.
You may be able to find turkey thighs after Thanksgiving, when grocery stores have a lot of leftover whole turkeys and may decide to sell the parts instead. Turkey thighs are a nice size meal for some larger dogs.
Can cats eat turkey necks?
In case you were wondering if your cat can also eat raw chicken and turkey necks, the answer is an enthusiastic YES! Chicken necks are the perfect size for cats’ small mouths. Duck necks and turkey necks might work but they are likely a bit too large for a cat. You could try feeding a turkey neck to your cat, but pick it up and store it in the fridge or throw it away so your cat doesn’t eat the whole thing in one sitting.
Raw meat is as healthy for cats as it is for dogs. The main difference is that cats – unlike dogs – can’t have any vegetables or fruit because they’re obligate carnivores. That means that they eat meat only.
Cats will experience the following benefits from eating raw chicken necks, much like dogs:
- Clean teeth
- Healthy gums
- Exercised jaws
- Joint support
- Mental stimulation
Is your cat on a raw meat diet? Let us know in the comment section, we’d love to hear about it!
Has your dog eaten chicken or turkey necks?
Let us know in the comments! And please let us know if you have any questions about feeding a dog a raw diet.
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Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt. She is a blogger, raw feeder and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.