Written by Alicia Boemi, Dogly Wellness Advocate & Canine Nutritionist
Chicken is high in protein and low in fat, making it an ideal lean meat source for our carnivore companions in various ways. This healthy popular human food can be used as dog treats, an addition to your dog’s commercial diet, or as part of a bland diet as a home remedy for an upset stomach. We’ll talk about the ways you can feed your dog chicken, whether cooked or uncooked, how to use it in a bland diet, and the nutritional benefits of chicken for dogs.
Nutrients in Chicken for Dogs
The nutritional value of a 100 gram serving of cooked boneless chicken breast (which roughly equals 1 cup) is 30g of protein, 111mg of Choline, 10mcg of preformed Vitamin A as Retinol (which is the type of Vitamin A dogs can readily use), and 5mg of calcium. It also has an abundance of essential amino acids and minerals required to meet nutritional requirements. Chicken has a biological value of 79 out of 100 which means that it has a high supply of essential amino acids that are digestible and highly nutritious.
Chicken is Healthy - Better than Other Foods
While not a complete food on its own, chicken is still an excellent option for your dog’s health because its nutrients can contribute to sustained health for your dog’s teeth, bones, immune system, and skin. Cooked boneless skinless chicken breast is also very easy on a dog’s digestive tract and can be helpful when used in a bland diet as a home remedy to ease an upset stomach. Dogs prone to certain medical conditions such as pancreatitis might also do best on a diet where the primary protein source is cooked boneless and skinless chicken because it is very low-fat. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian or canine nutritionist for guidance.
But Isn’t Chicken Inflammatory to a Dog or Puppy?
Chicken gets a bad reputation for being inflammatory because it contains Omega-6 fatty acids, but these fatty acids are nutritionally required as part of a dog’s healthy and balanced diet. Chicken is not as inflammatory as we all think; linoleic acid (LA) is one of the primary fatty acids present in chicken that contributes to your dog’s skin health. Your dog might have flaky, dry, or scaly skin without LA. Chicken gets blamed many times for causing skin problems in dogs when often, it’s an overall fatty acid imbalance that causes skin issues and can be reflected as a comprehensive poor immune system. The correct balance of Omega-6 fatty acids to Omega-3 fatty acids is critical for skin and immune system health. There is a small amount of Omega-3 fatty acids also present in chicken.
Does your dog Have an Intolerance to Chicken?
With this said, dogs can indeed have food intolerances to certain human foods, whether chicken, beef, fish, or game meat. If your dog shows signs of an intolerance to chicken, it’s best to avoid it; however, it might also be worth consulting with your veterinarian or canine nutritionist to make sure your dog is getting the right amount of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. If you want to make sure your dog is getting the proper amount of fatty acids in their diet, consider Native Pet's Omega Oil, which is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help promote healthy skin and fur.
Feeding Raw or Cooked Chicken
Choosing to feed your dog raw or cooked chicken comes with many pros and cons. Before we dive into all that, pet owners must know to avoid feeding ‘people food’ table scraps of chicken as they are often cooked with extra fats, butter, and marinades, which can cause upset stomachs, diarrhea, and vomiting or even contain toxic ingredients to dogs. Whether cooked or uncooked, it’s best to stick with plain chicken that does not contain any additives.
Chicken Bones are not Good for Your Dog.
Feeding your dog cooked chicken as an addition to your dog’s complete and balanced diet, as a tasty dog treat, or as part of an upset stomach bland diet remedy is pretty simple. There are a few safety measures to take - do not feed cooked chicken bones as they pose a significant choking risk and can splinter and cause a blockage or puncture of the intestines. Even raw bones can splinter and cause a choking hazard, but they are much less likely to do so than cooked bones.
Do Not Add Extra Fat or Oil While Feeding Chicken to Your Dog
Also, be aware that the skin on chicken does add extra fat and oils that can cause digestive upset. If your dog is prone to pancreatitis or diabetes, it’s wise to stick to boneless skinless chicken breast. You can boil, oven-bake, or pan-simmer chicken breast, dark meat, or ground chicken to add to your dog’s kibble or freeze-dried dog food. You can also incorporate small chicken pieces as a treat or even dehydrate those small pieces of chicken to save for dog treats!
Can My Dog Eat Raw Chicken?
This is a question that is often asked by dog owners because there is misleading information about it. You can indeed feed your dog raw chicken, but it comes with its own set of precautions. Many complete and balanced commercial raw food diets contain chicken as the main protein. Still, the product goes through a ‘pasteurization’ process called HPP to make the chicken safer for dogs to consume, so there is much less risk of salmonella or other food-borne bacteria. These commercial raw food diets also usually contain ground chicken bones as calcium and phosphorus. Ground bone is a much safer way for your dog to gain the nutritional benefits of bones rather than tossing your dog an uncooked chicken drumstick or wing.
If you want to feed your dog raw chicken as an addition to kibble or freeze-dried food, it is best to feed small pieces of chopped raw chicken breast to ensure your dog does not get an upset stomach first. You do not need to rinse the chicken in water to “clean it” unless this is a personal preference.
The Source of Chicken is Important
Sourcing the chicken to feed raw is very important. You should also ensure that the chicken breast is from a reputable source to avoid bacteria and poorly raised chickens. Remember when we talked about chicken getting a bad reputation as inflammatory for dogs? The corn or grains that the chicken consumes often cause inflammatory issues for dogs. When you choose a pasture-raised or organic chicken, you are less likely to wind up with any inflammation issues.
Raw chicken necks and chicken wings can be a tasty raw meaty bone treat for dogs, but dogs need to be supervised entirely when fed these treats. While mostly safe, raw chicken necks or wings can still pose a choking hazard for dogs, especially small dogs.
Know Your Dog's Habits
You should also make sure you fully understand your dog’s chewing or gulping ability. Many times, young and excited dogs will not take the time to gnaw, tear and chew the chicken neck or wing - they go in to swallow it. This can cause a blockage, constipation, an unsettled stomach, and likely a vet visit. It’s a good idea to research incorporating raw foods into your dog’s diet or consult with a canine nutritionist if you are unsure about what steps to take to ensure safety.
Feeding Chicken as Part of a Bland Diet to Dogs
A bland, cooked diet is used for a short period to alleviate gastrointestinal upset a dog might be experiencing for many reasons. The bland diet temporarily replaces a dog’s regular dog food, whether kibble, freeze-dried or raw diet, to calm down a dog’s stomach and allow it a chance to heal. In the simplest explanation, your dog’s regular pet food will be replaced with bland foods consisting of a lean meat protein source, starchy carbohydrate, with a bit of fiber. These bland foods are fed to your dog as a home remedy to stop vomiting or diarrhea so your dog can return to typical pet food with regular bowel movements. Raw food or any treats are not recommended for a bland diet.
Chicken is an Ideal Lean Meat for Your Dog
Because chicken is high in protein, low in fat, and provides many nutrients, it’s ideal lean meat to use in a bland diet. It can also be soothing to the stomach if prepared correctly and, well, bland. A typical bland diet might include boiled boneless skinless chicken breast with overcooked brown rice or mashed sweet potatoes. Avoid feeding large amounts of bland diet right away, and you’ll want to make sure you’re working to transition your dog back to a regular diet safely and to avoid any other digestive flare-ups. Refer to our Ultimate Guide on Bland Diets for Dogs here on choosing the right food for a bland diet, how to prepare them, how much to feed, and how to transition your dog back to their regular diet once their upset tummy is gone.
For more wellness advice, join my Community on Dogly. You can ask questions and get 24/7 access to other certified experts across nutrition, training & behavior, and wellness to give you and your dog your best life together.
If your dog could use some digestion help and a healthier gut to absorb all the good nutrients you’re feeding, try boosting it with Native Pet’s Probiotic, carefully created by their team of nutritionists and veterinarians.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can my dog eat chicken every day?
Yes, you can feed your dog cooked chicken every day. Avoid raw chicken due to the risk of various infections.
Can chicken cause sickness in dogs?
Yes, if the chicken is infected and not cooked properly before being fed to dogs, they can get sick.
Why is chicken terrible for some dogs?
Some dogs might be allergic to chicken. A chicken allergy is one of the top three common allergies found in canines. Chicken bones are dangerous for dogs as they can harm their stomach.
Can puppies eat cooked chicken?
Yes, boneless chicken in the appropriate quantity is suitable for puppies.