Turkey Meatball Meal Topper Dog Treats

Small bowl filled with turkey meatball dog treats on a polka dot napkin

Turkey toppers? Turkey treats? Either? Both? Pawfect! Homemade dog-friendly turkey meatballs have become one of our go-to meal toppers since changing up Humphrey’s feeding plan. They’re quick and convenient to serve, add excellent sent and appeal, and include lots of heart-friendly nutrients and a little extra fibre which really suits Humphrey’s digestion sometimes. Dog-friendly mini-meatballs are also fantastic on their own as extra special dog treats, served whole or broken up for smaller snacks or sharing between furfriends. Let’s sniff our way into the kitchen for a look at how to make turkey meatball dog treats that also work great as ready-to-serve meal toppers.

Tasty Turkey Keeps Us Perky!

Sorry for the cheesy (hold the cheese, extra turkey, please) headline, but in our case, it’s really true. Not only is turkey tasty and super appealing to Humphrey, but it’s also a moderate purine meat for our Dali diet and darker cuts are rich in heart-healthy taurine. Dark turkey is a great source of taurine, so we went searching for turkey after Humphrey’s DCM heart diagnosis. His treatment includes taurine supplementation, but we’re also making an effort to include taurine-rich foods and treats to increase his intake through both natural foods and supplementals. If you can’t find turkey mince or if it’s out of your baking budget (it’s rather tricky to find and expensive here in NZ), you can substitute another lean ground meat in the recipe below or sniff around our meatball dog treat recipes for doggone delish ideas.

Glass mixing bowl with turkey meatball dog treat ingredients

Treats? Toppers?

In the past, mini-meatballs were made just as special treats for our boys. More recently, with changes to Humphrey’s diet and feeding plan, they’ve switched to being an easy ready-to-serve meal topper option. He usually gets a little topper with his breakfast. This is often a small cube of lightly seared dark turkey. Indulgent? Yes. Haha. But it’s also a helpful step in filling time in our sometimes tricky morning stagger schedule of meds, supplements, and food. An alternative for faster snacking or for variety is to defrost one of his turkey meatballs and crumble that warm over his breakfast bowl. They’re awesome for having readily available as small ready-to-serve toppers.

Turkey Meatball Dog Treat Recipe

Mixing Meatball Dog Treats

My go-to-base for making meatballs is wholegrain oats, lean ground meat, and egg. For a plainer version of these turkey treats, you can skip the extras and just use those ingredients. From there, it’s easy to add in different dog-friendly ingredients that your pup enjoys or slip in specific extras to suit special diets or boost specific nutrients. You’ll be baking these meatballs, so don’t add anything heat sensitive or that you’d prefer to feed fresh/raw. You can check out our post on preparing fruits and vegetables for dog food and treats for some sneaky bulk-prep ready-to-serve shortcuts. They work as ready-to-mix shortcuts for treat recipes like this, too!

Homemade Dog-Friendly Turkey Meatballs

Meatball Ingredients:

  • Approximately 300-400g lean ground turkey (or other meat of your preference)
  • 1 carrot (optional)
  • Handful of fresh spinach (optional) 
  • Dog-friendly herbs or seasonings (optional)
  • 1 cup wholegrain oats
  • 1 egg

Humphrey is a carrot-lover, but I’ve also made variations of these meatballs with lots of other add-ins. What’s included often depends on what’s fresh in the garden at the time. Zucchini was a really nice swap, just squeeze excess moisture out of the fine shreds before mixing. You can swap your favourite dog-friendly veggies into the recipe above, but be conscious of moisture and size/texture. Anything wet might make your meatballs softer or need some extra oats/flour to soak up the juices. Anything coarse or chunky might make it tricky to shape the meatballs or make the finished meatballs more likely to crumble apart. 

Collage showing step-by-step process of making turkey meatball dog treats

Making the Meatballs:

  • Preheat your oven to 180C (or local equivalent) and gather together your ingredients and tools.
  • Wash your carrot and spinach, then process in a food processor (affiliate link) into a coarsely pureed mixture. If you don’t have a suitable kitchen appliance, you can hand shred the carrot and finely chop the spinach instead.
  • Combine the prepared carrot and spinach with the other meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix throroughly.
  • Rest briefly (optional) to let moisture soak into the oats before shaping.
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes (time will depend on size), until cooked thoroughly. If you’d like extra browning, you can switch the oven up to broil briefly at the end of the baking process (optional).
  • Cool to a safe temperature before any taste testing. Meatballs can be kept in the fridge short-term, and frozen for long-term storage, then thawed individually for use as special treats or toppers. See additional tips and tricks below.
Homemade turkey meatball dog treats with carrot and spinach

Dog-Friendly Meatball Making Tips and Tricks

  • Meatball dog treats don’t have a special post in our help section, but they’re very similar to making meatloaf style cakes. You can check out our pet chef help post on dog-friendly cakes for additional information on ingredients, storage, and more.
  • Mixture consistency giving you trouble? If the mixture is too wet, adding a little flour, germ, or flax can make the mix easier to handle and shape. This is, of course, optional. How much depends on the wetness of the mix and the texture/absorbency of the add-in.
  • I like using wholegrain oats, but they’re a bit chunky. If you’re wanting smaller mini-meatballs or a smoother mixture, you can whiz them briefly in your food processer (affiliate link) into a coarse homemade oat flour before you use it to prep the veggies.
  • Meatballs can be made smaller for little dogs or broken up for serving. Cooking times will vary depending on your meatball size.
  • For easy freezing and free-flow single-serve use, after the pan has cooled, I pop the whole thing into our freezer. Once the meatballs are frozen firm, I transfer them from the pan into a container or freezer bag. Super easy, and no extra mess or fuss.
  • Whether treats, toppers, or both, remember to keep extras to a small portion in your dog’s otherwise overall complete and balanced diet.
  • Cool meatballs are tasty, but pampered pooches might enjoy their treats warmed slightly for extra scent and flavour. Drool, furfriends!
Transferring turkey meatballs into a freezer bag for storage

Hungry for more tasty treats? There are all sorts of homemade dog treat ideas in our blog archives. You can use the category and tag labels to find other recipes that might be of interest or use our internal search tools to find something specific. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas from treats that we’ve made ourselves for our pets, but different animals have different preferences (likes/dislikes), just like people. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies/intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what’s suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.

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