Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken? Risks And Benefits

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can dogs eat raw chicken

Can dogs eat raw chicken? Yes, absolutely! Dogs can eat raw chicken, but only in moderation.

There are several facts and misconceptions surrounding this question.

For that reason, we’re going walk you through the steps to ensure your four-legged friend gets to enjoy the delicacies of uncooked poultry meat with minimal to no risk.

So Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken?

This question stems from three main areas of concern:

  • Can dogs digest raw chicken?
  • Can their systems handle bacteria and parasites often found in raw chicken?
  • Is raw chicken sufficiently nutritious for dogs?

To start off, we’re going to tackle the first concern: can dogs digest raw chicken?

Raw poultry meat is made up of stronger fibre[1] and cell walls that are usually broken down or weakened in the cooking process.

As a result, cooked chicken meat is tougher and digesting it is more challenging.

Fortunately for dogs, their internal systems are equipped to handle the harder surface.

Dogs possess stronger teeth that not only allow them to easily bite off raw meat but also to chew it thoroughly.

With regards to digestion, dogs are better adapted to digest raw chicken because of their shorter digestive tracts and stronger stomach acids.[2]

Since dogs’ digestive systems are mainly designed to process meat, they’re efficient at breaking down raw chicken thoroughly, to minimise constipation and stomach obstruction.

In fact, food reportedly moves three times faster in a dog’s system than in humans’. This ultimately means that the chances of constipation are reduced significantly.

What’s more, mammals generally possess hydrochloric acid, stomach acids that break down food for digestion. The stronger the stomach acid, the faster and more efficiently the food will be digested. 

The reason dogs can digest raw chicken and at times even bones, without breaking a sweat is that they produce up to a hundred times more hydrochloric acid than a human adult.

Risks of Feeding Raw Chicken to Dogs

While raw poultry meat is mostly safe for dogs, it does come with risks that all dog owners need to be aware of.

Bacteria is the main risk factor. Raw chicken may at times carry or even be infected with the following bacteria:

Salmonella

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that is generally found in animal intestines. It’s often the catalyst in most food poisoning cases. An infection induced by Salmonella bacteria is known as Salmonellosis.[3]

Since it’s largely found in the animal gut, it’s the main source of concern for dog owners who are thinking of  incorporating raw chicken in their pet’s diet.

Salmonella can be contracted from ingesting raw or undercooked meat as well as coming in contact with infected meat.

It’s unlikely that your dog will contract salmonellosis, but in the event that he does, you need to watch out for excessive vomiting, diarrhoea and bloody stools.

Campylobacter

Campylobacter is another bacteria just as common as Salmonella. Poultry is a natural carrier of this bacteria.

In small quantities, it doesn’t pose much of a threat, however, serious symptoms begin to show when the bacteria grow.

An infection of this bacteria causes a condition known as campylobacteriosis. Symptoms in dogs include fever, diarrhoea, and bloody or watery stools.

In serious cases, campylobacter can also cause ADN, an acute paralysis disorder in dogs.[4]

E-coli

Unlike other bacteria, E-coli is necessary for the gut, but in some cases, it leads to food poisoning. When that happens, the symptoms can trigger serious conditions like urinary tract infections and  kidney failure.

E-coli grows naturally in warm-blooded animals, including chickens. That said, it’s very common for raw chicken meat to carry the bacteria.

The following symptoms in dogs are typical of an E-coli infection:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fast heart rate
  • Blue-ish gums, mouth and nostrils
  • Low body temperature

Choking and indigestion

Not all dogs can handle harsher food choices like uncooked chicken. Smaller dog breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier and Miniature Schnauzer have sensitive digestive tracts, so choking and indigestion are potential risks of feeding them raw chicken.

Deficiency or excess of nutrients

Unlike commercial dog foods, raw chicken is unregulated. This ultimately means that it’s really hard to tell if your pet is getting enough or an excess of nutrients like amino acids, proteins and vitamins.

Benefits of Feeding Raw Chicken to Dogs

Raw chicken shouldn’t be taboo in your dog’s diet. In fact, an increasing number of dog owners are including uncooked poultry meat in their dog’s meals because of the benefits it brings to the table.

If you’re considering raw chicken for your pooch, the following potential benefits may persuade you:

Source of protein

Raw chicken contains a bit more protein than its cooked counterpart, because the cooking process strips the meat of some of its protein molecules.

That said, getting your dog to adopt a raw chicken regime is a great way to ensure he consumes a generous amount of protein without doubling down on calories.

No additives

Packaged dog foods are known for containing additives and allergens that trigger allergic reactions in some dogs.

This is especially tricky because finding out exactly what your dog may be allergic to will require a series of trial and error.

On the other hand, uncooked poultry is organic, and this significantly reduces the chances of allergic reactions or ingestion of toxins.

Packed with minerals and vitamins

Another perk of consuming chicken in its natural form is the additional vitamins and minerals it adds to the equation.

Compared to cooked chicken, raw poultry contains 10% more vitamins and minerals, most probably because it’s not denatured.

Muscle mass gain

When it comes to muscle, dogs aren’t different from humans. Healthy and steady muscle growth is often associated with an improvement in overall health.

Given the additional quantity of protein in uncooked chicken, it’s very common for dogs on a raw chicken diet to experience increased muscle mass.

What to do if my Dog Ate Raw Chicken?

Like we’ve established above, raw chicken is mostly safe for dogs, but there are instances where it can be dangerous.

If your pooch has ingested uncooked chicken in the past, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

If it’s the first time that he eats raw chicken, you should do the following:

Clean around

To start off, you’ll need to give your dog a good bath, but if you’re pressed for time, you can simply use a spraying bottle, a bit of water and dog sanitiser to clean off your pet’s mouth area and paws.

Raw chicken can be very messy and this is especially true when hounds feed on it, not only do they mess on themselves but they also spread the chicken juices all over the place.

That said, you also need to be sure to clean all the areas and surfaces your dog has touched.

That way, you’ll remove the unpleasant smell of raw chicken juices and you’ll also minimise the chances of bacteria spreading.

Find out where the piece of chicken came from

Next, you’ll need to retrace your pooch’s steps to find out exactly where the piece of chicken came from.

Hopefully, he found it somewhere in your kitchen, in which case there might still be a piece of it left that you can analyse for signs of a bacterial infection or rotting.

Also, if you walked in on your dog feasting on the piece of chicken, try to remember what it looked like, did it have any funny stains on it? Was the smell slightly unpleasant? Try to find out as much as you possibly can.

Watch out for side-effects

It’s unlikely that your dog will experience any side effects, but if the piece of chicken was contaminated, symptoms of bacterial infection will eventually appear.

It’s worth noting that they won’t appear immediately, so for this step, you’ll  have to take on a wait-and-see approach.

What are Good Substitutes for Raw Chicken Meat?

It’s completely understandable to be a bit sceptical about letting your four-legged companion munch on raw poultry meat.

If you can’t bring yourself to give your dog raw poultry, here are excellent substitutes:

Fish

Fish is a healthy food choice to include in your pet’s diet. It’s packed with key nutrients and it’s gentle on a dog’s digestive tract.

What’s more, many commercial dog foods contain fish as a primary ingredient, so your dog’s internal system will most likely be familiar with all the nutrients.

Eggs

Eggs are the perfect substitute for raw chicken, they’re filled with fatty acids, minerals and proteins.

Additionally, their soft and slightly mushy consistency makes digestion a breeze, especially for smaller dog breeds.

Eggs are also quite versatile; they can be eaten hard-boiled, scrambled, as an omelette or as part of a concoction

Tofu

You can also switch up your pet’s diet with a plant-based source of protein such as Tofu. Contrary to popular belief, Tofu isn’t toxic to dogs, but they should eat it in moderation.

For safety measures, don’t add any spices, seasonings and other sauces when preparing Tofu, because these artificial flavours may cause digestive discomfort.

Read our article on Can Dogs Eat Tofu? to learn more about this treat and dogs’ nutrition.

Troubling Symptoms that Necessitate Veterinary Attention

Bigger dog breeds have stronger immune systems that can withstand a certain degree of bacteria, but they’re not completely off the hook when it comes to bacterial infections.

Smaller dog breeds, older dogs as well as those suffering from chronic illnesses that compromise the immune system need the most attention.

One episode of vomiting isn’t necessarily anything to worry about, however, you should contact your veterinary as soon as you notice the following symptoms:

Signs of obstruction in the intestines

Intestinal and bowel obstruction will most likely be caused by chicken bones that are unable to pass through the intestines smoothly.

Intestinal obstruction should be treated as soon as symptoms occur to avoid severe discomfort, dehydration, intestinal rupture and possible death.

Your vet will perform a physical exam, an ultrasound or a radiograph to determine if there are bones or other foreign objects stuck in your dog’s intestines.

If there appears to be a blockage, your vet will insert a tube inside the digestive tract to remove the object. In more serious cases, vets will recommend surgery under full anaesthetic.

Here are tell-tale signs of clogging in the intestines:

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty walking
  • Panicking
  • Bloody stools
  • Difficulty defecating

Vomiting or diarrhoea for more than 48 hours

Vomiting and diarrhoea that lasts up to 48 hours are signs of gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Gastroenteritis is mostly the result of parasites, bacteria and viruses like E-coli that are found in raw poultry.

New foods, in other words, foods that your dog is unfamiliar with may also cause gastroenteritis. That might be the case if it’s the first time your dog eats raw chicken.

Paralysis

According to a study, one of the more serious risks of feeding dogs raw chicken is possible APN( Acute polyradiculoneuritis), a disorder that attacks the peripheral nerve[5] and causes paralysis in dogs.

Very little is known about the disorder, but several studies suggest that the bacteria Campylobacter could be the main triggering agent.

How Much Raw Chicken can a Dog Eat?

Raw chicken isn’t a one-size-fits-all food option for dogs. The quantity they can safely eat depends on several factors such as their breed, size, age, allergies and health complications.

As a rule of thumb, always aim for 3% of your pet’s body weight, that’s the benchmark for feeding dogs uncooked poultry. From there you can observe how your dog reacts.

If you notice any loss of muscle mass, you’ll need to opt for bigger portions. Conversely, you should cut back on serving sizes if you notice significant weight gain.

To put it into perspective, 2.25lb of raw chicken, 2 to 3 times a week is sufficient for a dog weighing around 75 pounds.

How to Feed a Dog Raw Chicken?

In terms of preparing methods, there isn’t much you can do with raw chicken, but you can take the necessary safety precautions to minimize possible side effects.

Determine if it’s safe to eat

Before you start prepping the chicken, it’s crucial that you first determine if it’s safe to eat.

Its appearance will give a good indication of whether it’s still edible. Chicken is typically light pink in color with pieces of white fat. The colour may appear slightly lighter or darker if it’s been refrigerated for a while.

Any other colour is a sign of rotting or possible infection.

Prep the chicken

Opting for raw poultry meat doesn’t equate to minimal efforts. On the contrary, having your dog adopt a raw chicken diet requires lots of work and meticulousness.

Ideally, you should give your dog boneless chicken breast, because it’s more filling, easier to handle and the chances of choking are very slim.

Alternatively, you can pick any other part as long as you proceed to debone the part before placing it in your pet’s bowl.

It’s worth remembering that extremely bony parts like the wings and neck are a complete No-Go.

Tips to Safely Feed Dogs Raw Chicken:

  • Limit serving size to 3% of dog’s weight
  • Not more than three times a week
  • Cut up the parts into smaller pieces
  • Debone the chicken parts
  • Clean the eating area before and after
  • Watch out for any symptoms

Bottom Line

It’s safe to feed your dog raw chicken but it comes with lots of work, responsibilities and precision.

To safely incorporate raw chicken in your pet’s diet, you need to consider key factors like weight, age, breed and possible underlying health complications.

If you are interested about dogs’ weight, read our article about How Heavy Should My Dog Be.

Photo of author
Author
Larissa Musangu
I'm a seasoned dog lover and companion. I've noticed that there are numerous misconceptions regarding dog nutrition, which is why I've taken it upon myself to share actionable, accurate and research-backed advice on best-practices for feeding our four-legged friends.

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