Can Dogs Eat Chicken

Can Dogs Eat Chicken?

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Dogs can have chicken as part of their diet, so it’s not surprising that the answer is a qualified “yes”. As for dogs, they have endless options when it comes to chicken parts.

The purpose of this article is to explain “Can Dogs Eat Chicken?“.

I am writing todays post to give you a very detailed guide to whether or not your dog can eat chicken. 

Can Dogs Eat Chicken

I’d like to stay by looking at when dogs and chickens were domesticated by humans. 

Dogs are thought to have been domesticated around thirty thousand years ago.  

Dogs were one of the first species to be domesticated among the forty or so species. 

Horses and cattle were not invented until ten thousand years ago. 

In parts of South Asia chickens entered our lives much later- somewhere between 6000 BC and 2000 BC. 

To me an interesting question is how many thousands of years have dogs eaten chicken.

The following section will bring us to bang up to date by examining how popular chicken is in the US today.

How much chicken is eaten in the U.S?

A staggering amount of chicken is eaten by Americans today compared to fifty years ago. 

Every year the United States consumes eight billion chickens. 

On average people ate a pound (half a kilogram) of chicken a week or 50 pounds per year in the 1970s but now they consume more than a hundred pounds (50 kilograms).

It is logical that if people eat so much chicken and love it so much it will also be a popular food for our dogs.

I will examine in detail the nutrition of chicken in the next section which will look at what dogs get from it. 

What is the nutrition in chicken?

As far as our dogs are concerned there are very few parts of a chicken that are not eaten.

All parts of the body are fed to dogs: breasts thighs legs wings feet necks livers hearts gizzards and skin. 

Although chicken is known as a slice of meat that is low in fat and high in protein do the individual cuts and parts of chicken vary that much?

Heres what we found.

This nutrition section has been divided into two parts. 

We will begin with popular chicken cuts or parts of chicken we often eat ourselves.

They are widely available and inexpensive. 

The second section will be parts of the chicken that can be found at pet stores that sell dog food rather than in grocery stores. 

First lets look at the nutritional profile of chicken cuts that are more desirable.

An important value chart has been created.

100g servingBreast (no skin) Breast (skin on)Thigh*Leg*Wings Skin
Calories176181175155247 450 
Fat 5.5 g 8.3 g8.6 g 5.9 g 17 g 40 g 
Cholesterol 96 mg 92 mg 140 mg 126 mg 69 mg 82 mg
Protein30 g25 g24 g 24 g 23 g 20 g 
MineralsPhosphorous Selenium ZincIron Phosphorous Selenium ZincIron Phosphorous Selenium ZincPhosphorous Selenium ZincPhosphorous Selenium
VitaminsB2 B3 B6B3 B6 B12B3 B6 B3 B6B3

These chicken cuts are considered “skinless”. 

I believe that the values are very similar across all of these different cuts.

The real difference lies in where the cuts have skin on them.

The main difference between a skinless breast and one with skin is that a skinless breast contains more fat and less protein.

Since chicken wings have so much skin they also contain more fat and less protein. 

I have also included a column showing the nutrients found in chicken skin to help you.

With 40% fat it leaves little room for other nutrients!

We will move on and quickly look at some of the more unsavory chicken parts in this section.

The parts of the plant that are mostly eaten by dogs in places like the US or UK.

The body parts I have included below still contain lots of nutrition so it is good that they are not being wasted. 

In the chart below you will find the most important statistics. 

100g servingFeetNecksLiverHeart
Fat 15 g8.8 g4.8g9.3 g
Cholesterol 84 mg83 mg345 mg136 mg
Protein19 g 18 g 17 g16 g
MineralsCopper PhosphorousPhosphorous SeleniumIron Copper Phosphorous SeleniumIron Copper Phosphorous
VitaminsB12 B9B3 B5 B6A B12 B2 B5 [!] B12 [!] B2 B5

Rather than get bogged down in details I will just mention a few points about the nutrition found in each of these body parts. 

Chicken feet are easy to feed to your dog as snacks or training treats but since there is so much fat in them it is important to do so because there is a lot of skin. 

Your dog should only receive very small amounts of chicken liver- about 5% of their overall diet.

Moreover its not about calories or protein but about vitamins. 

There are enormous amounts of vitamins A B12 B2 and B5 in chicken liver.

Even a large dog would receive many times the amount of these vitamins that they require in a day from a 100g portion.

Having a little bit too much liver would not harm your dog but it is a part of the chicken that we must feed to our dog with extreme care.

A more detailed article about it can be found here.  

Now that we know some of the nutrients that most parts of a chicken contain we can begin to discuss what a dog truly needs in their diet and how chicken fits into that. 

What do dogs need in their diet?

In this case there are two schools of thought. 

In the first place there is the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

People who believe in feeding dogs raw meat are considered the second school. 

AAFCO determines what should be included in the food of animals in the US. 

Any company that sells dry or wet dog food should follow its guidelines concerning dogs. 

Although they do not specify how much chicken should be in a dogs diet they do specify how much fat or protein should be. 

The numbers are below. 

Right now I’ll just consider numbers for an adult dog instead of puppies or pregnant females. 

There are four different nutrients dogs need in their food: protein fats minerals and vitamins. 

Where are the carbs? Yes dogs do not need carbohydrates. 

Minerals [selected]Potassium (0.6%) Calcium (.5%) Phosphorous (.4%) Iron (mg/ kg) Zinc (80 mg/ kg)
Vitamins[selected] A (5000 IU/ kg) D (500 IU/ kg) E (50 IU / kg) B2 (5.2 mg/ kg) B3 (13.6 mg/kg)

Chicken provides all of these essential nutrients.

Do they provide them in sufficient quantities?  

The next section will reveal all

The second school of thought holds that dogs need three nutrients from their food including muscle meat bone and offal.

Additionally some people add vegetables and seeds to their diet. 

Muscle meat 80%70%
Vegetables and seeds0%10%

Several of these terms will be explained quickly.

Generally muscle meat includes leg shoulder breast and thigh parts. 

A dogs liver is the most important organ out of all the internal organs of the animal.

Now that we know what experts say about the exact need that dogs have for their diet it is time to look at how the different nutrients in chicken might help our dogs. 

Why do dogs need protein in their diet?

According to AAFCO guidelines dogs require about 18% protein in their diet and in this respect most human cuts of chicken exceed that requirement providing about 24-30% protein.

Chicken contains more protein than is needed for a balanced diet so you should not worry too much about that. 

A dogs health and well-being depend on protein which plays a complex but crucial role in their well-being.

Besides being a building block of life it also helps the body create different cells and keep them healthy.

Muscle and other body tissues are formed from these cells.

As well as hormones proteins are also used to make them.

In addition protein plays an important role in the creation and maintenance of hair skin and nails.

The discussion can get even nerdier and more detailed if you like.

The original AAFCO document (about what should be in a dogs diet) explains precisely what proteins a dog needs. 

Proteins such as arginine histidine and leucine for example.

Chicken is also high in arginine (which aids in wound healing and boosting the immune system) histidine (which supports memory and brain function) and leucine (which helps control blood sugar levels among other things).

After looking at the importance of protein I would like to examine the controversial role fat plays in our dogs’ health.

Why do dogs need fat in their diet?

Yes you heard me correctly. Fat plays an important role in the health of our dogs.

Humans and dogs need some fat to survive and thrive despite the medias demonization of it. 

A dogs diet should contain about 5.5% fat for an adult.

According to our nutrition charts skinless chicken breasts and skinless chicken thighs contain between 5-6% fat so in that regard these cuts of chicken are fine. 

How does fat affect a dogs body?

The right proportion of fat is important to a dog for a number of reasons and I would not go over them all here. 

A dogs body uses up this concentrated form of energy before looking for carbohydrates or proteins to digest. 

In addition fats contain essential fatty acids which a dog can only obtain by eating fat.

Omega 3 and Omega 6 are the two types of fatty acids. Perhaps you have heard of them before?

Lastly fats are important because they help dogs absorb certain vitamins such as vitamins A and D. 

Dogs cannot absorb vitamins in their bodies if they do not have fat.

Regarding vitamins I will discuss how the vitamins that are found in the chicken are beneficial for dogs in the next section. 

Why do dogs need vitamins in their diet?

A chicken contains a variety of vitamins but the most abundant are vitamins B3 and B6. 

A healthy diet for a dog must include both of these vitamins. 

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is necessary for the metabolism of food in a dog.

Vitamin B3 helps break down and absorb fatty acids (and those were mentioned not long ago.) 

Additionally it will help your dog regulate and control its hormones.

What is vitamin B6 used for?

The vitamin B6 (or pyridoxine) comes across to me as something of a powerhouse in terms of all the different pies it has its fingers in. 

In addition to forming and maintaining red blood cells it also regulates glucose. The immune system is also believed to benefit from it. 

I would like to close out this section of the article by discussing how minerals in chicken can be beneficial to your dog. 

Why do dogs need minerals in their diet?

AAFCO recommends that dogs get twelve different minerals from their diet.

The elements are calcium phosphorus potassium sodium chloride magnesium iron manganese copper zinc iodine and selenium. 

The only exceptions to my knowledge are iodine and manganese which are present in chicken.

Phosphorus selenium and zinc are particularly abundant in it.

Other cuts of chicken contain high amounts of iron as well.  

If chicken is difficult to get hold of or terribly expensive then it is all well and good telling everyone how great it is.

As a result I will address this vexing issue in the next section. 

How cheap is chicken?

Getting a simple answer to this question is very difficult since food prices fluctuate from week to week depending on where you live.

In any case this chart of food prices from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics gives us a great average. 

As of December 2021 the prices are current. 

As far as chicken is concerned the news is very good indeed. 

Meat from this animal is the cheapest.

The following are the average prices for different cuts of chicken.

The prices are all per pound.

Whole chicken$1.60
Boneless breast$3.75
Legs (with bone)$1.72

On the other hand you will pay $4.60 for a pound of ground beef and $4.40 for a pound of boneless chops.

Therefore chicken breasts are over $1 cheaper than ground beef or pork chops. 

In light of all the good news about chicken it is important to shed some light on some of its potential downsides. 

They also include the possibility that chicken may contain harmful bacteria.

We’ll talk more about that in the next section. 

What bacteria can be hiding in raw chicken?

It is commonly found that raw chicken contains Campylobacter bacteria Salmonella bacteria and Clostridium perfringens bacteria according to the Center for Disease Control.

Bacteria like these are extremely dangerous to human health. Each year one million Americans become ill after eating contaminated chicken.

The most common cause of food poisoning hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. is raw chicken.

Up to 4% of chicken meat in supermarkets was found to be contaminated with salmonella in 2018.  

However that data pertains to humans not dogs.

So this raises the question can dogs become ill from eating raw chicken?

Campylobacter and salmonella may cause dogs to become ill but it is unlikely that they will become seriously ill with either of these two types of bacteria.

During the discussion of the inner workings of a dogs stomach I will explain the reasons for this.

Can a dog digest raw and infected chicken?

The idea that our dogs can eat pretty much anything without suffering serious harm would be easy to get a bit gung ho about.

The stomach and digestion system of dogs work in a completely different way than a humans but we should still be cautious.

Older dogs puppies and dogs with pre-existing medical conditions are more susceptible to campylobacter and salmonella infections so you should take the time to consider each dog individually.

pH 1 is the acidity of the stomach of a dog during digestion. 

For those of you who are not scientists ph1 is similar to car battery acid in acidity and we know how potent car battery acid is from movies about gangsters.

In this strength meat and bones dissolve within a few hours as do harmful bacteria it is believed. 

This brings us to a discussion about dogs who routinely consume chicken as part of a raw food diet. 

60% of dogs eat raw chicken safely

Is that headline catching your attention?

I’ll explain because it isnot quite what it seems.

In the Netherlands 60% of dogs are fed raw food whereas in places such as the United States and Australia 16% of dogs are fed raw food.

In the US there are thought to be almost 90 million dogs which means that nearly 18 million dogs eat raw food. 

Wouldnot catastrophic salmonella or campylobacter outbreak have occurred by now if the raw chicken was that dangerous?

It is possible though that people are not as concerned about the welfare of dogs as they are about their own.

In the next section we will discover why. 

The hidden danger of dogs eating raw chicken

Scientists have been concerned as raw pet food diets have become increasingly popular over the past decade or so that handling raw meat by people increases the risk to human health. 

It is the main body in the US responsible for preventing infectious diseases that oppose people feeding pets raw meat because if the meat isnot handled properly and hygienically people could become infected. 

In 2019 an international survey of pet owners feeding their pets raw food was conducted. 

Over sixteen thousand respondents participated in the survey which found that only .24% of households had experienced food poisoning as a result of feeding their dogs or cats raw food. 

Truth be told there hasnot been enough research done on this issue.

Having said that how should raw chicken be prepared for your dog?

How should you prepare raw chicken for your dog?

It is important to handle any raw meat (chicken or pork) by only using clean utensils and equipment and then to wash the equipment wipe the surfaces and wash your hands in hot soapy water.

You should not use the equipment for something else before it has been washed or wash the chicken before you give it to your dog.

When you wash chicken the water will bounce off the chicken and onto your kitchen surfaces increasing infection risk. 

I have yet to touch on one important aspect of a chicken (as far as your dog is concerned).

I will talk about chicken bones in the next section.  

Can dogs eat chicken bones?

Although I promise to keep this brief this topic could warrant a mega guide of its own.

Considering that dogs are genetically programmed to eat bones the topic of dogs and bones is surprisingly controversial.

Dogs should have regular access to bones but others believe they should not because bones are potentially dangerous to them. 

When it comes to bones there are a few important guidelines to follow. 

It is always best to give raw bones to your dog and not cooked ones. 

Dogs cannot chew cooked bones since they are too hard to chew and can easily splinter. 

Additionally dogs should be fed the weight-bearing bones of any animal including chickens.

The bones of weight-bearing people are denser and less prone to splintering than the bones of non-weight-bearing people.

And finally you should consider the size of the bone in relation to the size of the dogs mouth.

Dogs need a bone that is large enough to gnaw and not swallow whole which might get stuck in their throats.

What does that mean for chicken bones?

As long as they are not aggressive chewers chicken leg bones should be fine for small dogs.

When it comes to bigger dogs you must find bones from bigger animals such as cows and pigs if you want to give them a bone. 

We are nearing the end of this article so I thought I would give you a few quick answers to some popular questions about whether dogs can eat chicken. 

I will keep my answers brief because I have dedicated a whole post to answer the question in greater detail elsewhere on my site. 

How much chicken should I feed to my dog daily?

We always seek precise answers whenever we start something new. 

In this regard the question of how much chicken should be fed to a dog daily is highly relevant. 

Here are two methods for calculating the precise amounts that your dog needs. One of these methods is to feed them about 3% of their body weight in chicken. 

Getting into a rut and giving your dog chicken every day isnot a good idea however.

Our dogs need variety regardless of how nutritious chicken is.

You can find out more by reading this article. 

How much chicken can a puppy eat?

Unlike the article in the previous section which focused on the needs of adult dogs this article examines chicken from the viewpoint of puppies.

Many of you may wonder whether puppies should be fed chicken at all.

Your puppy will get a lot of nutrition from chicken although you should not just feed them chicken as they get older.

In addition puppies are more vulnerable than older dogs so you may want to feed them cooked chicken not raw chicken.

The easiest (and best) way to cook chicken for your puppy is to boil it.

Click here for more details. 

Can dogs eat BBQ chicken?

A barbecue is a favorite among everyone.

When the weather is nice there is nothing better than firing up the garden grill and cooking some meat.

I include our dogs when I say everyone loves a BBQ.

Dogs love the combination of a crowd of people some sunshine and some barbecued meat.

Basically dogs are okay with eating some bbq chicken.

It often contains ingredients that are not very healthy for your dog including onions and garlic which are toxic to dogs.

In addition to barbecues involving lots of alcohol your dog may have a few occasions to eat a lot more chicken than they should.

Make sure you keep your dogs safe when you are barbecuing chicken by clicking here.

My dog swallowed a whole chicken wing..

In this case a piece of meat and a bone could be dangerous for a dog to swallow.

When your dog swallows a whole chicken wing and you are watching it can be frightening.

You pass your dog a wing and expect him to crunch it a few times.

However rather than crunching up the wing your dog swallowed it whole just like a performing sea lion with a fish. 

Dogs are probably going to be fine for the most part.

Some might lick their lips and look at you as if to say “what were you worried about?”

Yet whole chicken wings are too big for most dogs. Just imagine how big a chicken wing is compared to your dogs throat. 

More information about what you should do can be found here. 

Should my dog eat sesame chicken?

You might enjoy eating Chinese food if barbecues are not your thing.

A particular weakness is sesame chicken.

As with barbecue chicken sesame chicken is an extremely rich food that does not appear on a list of healthy dog foods.

However unlike BBQ chicken most sesame chicken sauces are not toxic to your dog.

If you want to be naughty with the Chinese takeout on a Friday night you have a bit of leeway!

Can my dog eat chicken stock cubes?

Stock cubes are one of the quickest ways to add flavor to any meal.

What about your dogs safety?

You might be trying to make your dogs dull kibble more interesting as they are picky eaters. 

You might need to give your pup some water right away if they are dehydrated.

What are your thoughts on chicken stock cubes?

Regardless of what your situation is you’ll find the most important information in this post. 

Can dogs have Rotisserie Chicken?

You might consider rotisserie chicken if you want a ready-to-eat and tasty chicken that is cooked relatively simply.

The problem with whole chickens even when you are feeding a few people is that there will always be leftovers.

Are these leftovers from the rotisserie dog-friendly?

The most important thing to bear in mind with a rotisserie chicken is how much salt it contains as explained in this post. 

A dog will not be poisoned by the amount of salt used to cook one of these chickens but adding too much salt to your dogs diet isnot healthy.

Can dogs eat chicken?

That concludes our epic exploration into whether dogs can eat chicken.

Dogs can have chicken as part of their diet so its not surprising that the answer is a qualified “yes”.

As for dogs they have endless options when it comes to chicken parts.

With the information I provided about each chicken body part I hope you have made an informed decision regarding what to feed your dog.

Your dog may be fed raw chicken or raw chicken bones but that is completely up to you.

Take a look at some of the advice I have provided in this article and get started small and slow!

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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