It’s no secret that dogs love meat. It doesn’t seem to matter what type of meat it is. Cooked or raw. Feet, hearts, or thighs. Dogs will munch down on all of it, anytime.
As pet parents, it’s up to us to determine what our pooches should be eating, not just what they like to eat. Are turkey hearts good for dogs? How should they be prepared?
Can dogs eat turkey hearts?
The short answer is, yes. Dogs can eat turkey hearts. They are actually extremely healthy for your pooch. Before you toss your dog a turkey heart, you should know the benefits and risks of feeding hearts to them.
First, let’s take a look at the benefits of feeding turkey hearts to your dog.
Turkey hearts are full of nutrition your dog needs. This includes high quality protein, which is essential for your dog’s muscle health and development. It also aids tissue repair, and it’s an essential source of energy for your dog.
Fat is also an important part of your dog’s diet. Fat has more than twice the calories per gram as protein and carbohydrates. This makes it very calorie dense.
Because of this, fat should be fed to your dog in moderation. However, it’s a great source of energy for your dog.
It’s also an important source of essential fatty acids. These are essential for the brain growth of puppies and a healthy immune system. They support heart health and reduce inflammation in the body. They even reduce your dog’s cancer risk.
Vitamins and Minerals
Just like humans, dogs need vitamins and minerals to be healthy. Many vitamins and minerals your dog needs can be found in turkey hearts. In fact, it might be the most nutrient dense food for your pooch in terms of its vitamin and mineral punch.
Turkey hearts contain high levels of thiamin, vitamins B6 and B12, and vitamin C.
In addition, it’s an excellent source of iron, phosphorus, and selenium. Other nutrients in turkey hearts include magnesium, magnese, potassium, zinc, and copper.
Turkey hearts also contain a high amount of taurine. Taurine is an amino acid found in all meat, but it’s much higher in organ meats, including the heart.
Taurine is essential for heart health. In fact, taurine deficiency can cause Dilated Cardiomyopathy, or DCM. This occurs when the heart becomes weak, and can’t pump blood effectively.
The symptoms of DCM include fatigue, heavy breathing with exercise, and coughing. It’s thought that adding more taurine to the diet can improve DCM.
It’s also essential for eye health and immune system function.
How Much Turkey Heart Should Dogs Eat?
This really depends on the rest of their diet. If you are feeding them a raw food diet, organ meats should make up 25% of their diet. However, this should be balanced across different organs, not just hearts.
A specific organ meat should make up no more than 10% of their diet.
If you are feeding them a commercial dog food and simply want to supplement it with turkey hearts, you can do so. You’ll want to follow the rule above of no more than 10% of their diet coming from hearts.
However, you can also feed them a turkey heart occasionally to boost their nutrition, instead of giving them as a regular part of their diet.
Are turkey hearts safe for dogs?
Yes, turkey hearts are safe for dogs. However, you can feed too much of a good thing. The biggest risk of feeding your dog too many turkey hearts is a vitamin A overdose.
This can occur with hearts and livers, which are also very high in vitamin A.
Vitamin A has many functions in your dog’s body. It promotes healthy skin and coat. It supports the liver, lungs, and kidneys. Just like humans, vitamin A is important for healthy eyesight in dogs. It also supports healthy nerve function and muscles.
However, too much vitamin A can have serious consequences. These include appetite loss, vomiting, constipation, and weight loss. Other symptoms include bone spurs, lethargy, limping, stiffness, and weakness.
It’s important to note that it takes a lot of vitamin A to become toxic. Most cases of Vitamin A toxicity come from a dog getting into human vitamins and helping themselves.
However, you should consider how much vitamin A your dog is getting in your diet.
Can dogs eat raw turkey hearts?
The views on this are mixed. Many experts say that a raw diet is the healthiest way to feed your dog. Others believe that feeding raw organ meats isn’t safe for your dog. What’s the truth of the matter?
Benefits of Raw Organ Meats
First, dogs are designed to eat raw meat. In the wild, they would catch prey and consume it raw. Their digestive systems are more acidic than ours, which makes it more difficult, although not impossible, for bacteria to thrive.
Raw foods are also more nutrient dense than cooked foods. You are probably aware that cooking your own food reduces the nutrition it contains.
The same is true for your dog. When you cook organ meat, including turkey hearts, some of the nutritional value is lost.
Proponents of a raw diet claim that it leads to a healthier skin and coat, and increased energy levels. They also believe it’s better for your dog’s overall health.
Concerns About Raw Organ Meats
Opponents of the raw meat diet cite concerns about bacterial contamination. Dogs are designed to handle raw meat, so they are much less susceptible to bacteria than humans. However, they can become ill from bacteria including e coli and salmonella.
Dogs who are very young, old, or have a weakened immune system are at a higher risk of contracting these illnesses.
The FDA also warns pet owners that they should use caution when handling these meats, and be sure to wash their hands after serving. This is the same advice that applies to handling raw meat for your own meals, however.
If your pooch isn’t used to eating organ meats, or raw meats, turkey hearts can cause digestive upset. This isn’t due to anything bad in the heart. It’s simply something their digestive system isn’t used to.
If your pooch is new to these foods, start small. Give them a small portion, and wait 24 to 48 hours before giving them more. If they tolerate it well, you can give them a bit more the next time.
Continue this process until you reach the amount you want to give your dog.
How do you cook turkey hearts for dogs?
There are a few ways to cook turkey hearts for dogs. It is relatively simple, but there are a few things to know before you get started.
You can expect a whole turkey heart to take around 60 minutes to boil. This is also the length of time needed to cook a chicken heart. Beef hearts are larger, and take 90 minutes to cook.
Simply lightly salt the water, and bring it to a light boil. Add the hearts, and allow it to boil for at least 1 hour. It is recommended to change the water after 30 minutes of cooking time.
You can also saute turkey hearts. You’ll need a pan lightly coated with oil. Olive oil is a good choice, but regular vegetable oil will do. Don’t over do it, you only need a light coating of oil.
Next, cook the hearts over medium or medium high heat. This should take between 5 to 10 minutes. It’s a quick and easy way to feed your pooch.
Storing Turkey Hearts
You can store cooked turkey hearts in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you want a longer shelf life, you’ll need to freeze them.
You can freeze indivudal hearts in freezer bags indefinitely. Antoher method is to puree them. Then, place the puree in ice cube trays. When you want to give your pooch a snack, just reach for a cube.
What to Avoid
There are a few things to avoid when cooking turkey hearts. First, don’t add a lot of salt. A pinch to aid in cooking is fine for your dog. However, you don’t want to salt the meat for flavor, like you would for huamn cooking.
Dogs have mcuh lower salt needs than huamns, so it’s easy to overdo it.
Don’t add a lot of oil if you choose to saute the hearts. Too mch fat isn’t good for dogs, and can cause digestive issues.
Lastly, don’t add spices or seasonings, unless you are sure they are safe for your pooch. Garlic and onion are off the table for your pooch, because they are toxic for dogs.
Other herbs and spices, including dill, ginger, turmeric, and sage are safe. You can add one or more of these to your dog’s hearts if you prefer. Moderation is key, however. Don’t overdo it, becuase some spices can cause digestive upset if consumed in large amounts.