NOTE: Always check with your veterinarian first before giving your dog any new foods, especially “people foods.” What might be OK for one dog might not be good for your dog, depending on multiple factors, such as their age, health history, health conditions, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any food or treats outside the diet.
But while dogs can eat chicken, you’ll want to be careful about how much you give them—and how it’s prepared. As with any new food that finds its way into your dog’s bowl, moderation is key. Here’s what to know.
Is Chicken Good for Dogs?
Chicken can be a healthy food for dogs if prepared correctly. It’s an excellent source of protein and contains several nutrients that can help maintain your dog's overall health, including vitamin B6, vitamin B3, and zinc.
Just be sure any chicken fed to your dog is cooked thoroughly to avoid the risk of salmonella and other foodborne illnesses. Watch out for extra ingredients that might make them sick, like garlic and onions, and remove any bones because they can cause choking or digestive issues.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken?
Do not feed your dog raw chicken. Raw chicken is known to harbor unsafe bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, which can make your dog very sick. Ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked before sharing it with your dog.
What Chicken Products Can Dogs Eat?
There are several ways to prepare chicken, and not all of them are a good choice for our four-legged friends. Plain, boiled chicken is generally considered safe. But fried chicken and chicken that’s been prepared with seasonings such as garlic, onions, or high-fat ingredients like cream or oil should be avoided.
Boiled chicken is a good option to feed your dog. In fact, boiled chicken and rice is a common remedy for dogs with digestive issues, and your vet might recommend feeding this if your pup is vomiting or has diarrhea.
A tiny piece of fried chicken probably won’t make your dog sick, but it’s certainly not a healthy option for your pup. Fried chicken made with oil can cause digestive upset, and eating high-fat food can cause a painful condition called pancreatitis. Fried chicken can also contain seasonings that are toxic to dogs, including onion and garlic.
Your pooch probably won’t get sick if he snags one of your kiddo’s chicken nuggets from the floor, but it’s not a good idea to give your dog these as a regular treat. Chicken nuggets—especially if they’re fried—are not a healthy snack for dogs.
Unfortunately, your dog should also steer clear of chicken feet, as both the raw and cooked kinds can cause digestive issues. Just like any other type of raw meat, uncooked chicken feet carry the risk of harmful bacteria like salmonella that can make your dog very sick.
Cooked chicken feet don’t have the same risk of bacteria, but the bones can splinter and cause tears or obstructions in your dog’s digestive system.
Dogs can have chicken broth as long as it doesn’t contain any harmful added ingredients. But onion and garlic are both common additives found in canned chicken broth and—again—these are toxic to dogs. But plain, low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade broth!) can make a nice addition in their dog food bowl when given in small amounts.
Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?
Do not let your dog eat chicken bones, as they can cause serious internal problems. Though they’re small, chicken bones can be serious choking hazards for dogs who ingest them.
Even if your dog doesn’t choke, the bone can easily splinter and, as they move through your dog’s digestive system, those tiny sharp-edged pieces can cut your dog’s stomach and intestines. This can potentially cause ruptures, blockages, and infections that all require serious medical attention.
What To Do if Your Dog Eats a Chicken Bone
If your dog eats a chicken bone, try to get it out of their mouth (as long as you can do it without distressing them further or getting bitten). Try offering another treat to get them to drop the bone.
If your pup ends up swallowing it, watch them carefully. If the bone appears to be stuck in their throat, this is an emergency and should be addressed ASAP. Take your dog to the vet immediately.
If you suspect your pooch has eaten a chicken bone, watch for signs of distress. If they display any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet as quickly as possible:
If your dog is acting normal, it’s OK to keep monitoring them closely from home. Always call your vet if you have concerns about your pet’s health.
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Chicken?
Most of the time, dog food allergies affect the skin and coat, though they can also cause vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms that may indicate your dog has a chicken allergy include:
Red or itchy skin
It’s possible for dogs to develop a food allergy at any point in their life—so if Fido is suddenly scratching after he eats his regular chicken and rice kibble, you may want to try an elimination diet to see if something in his food is causing it.
How Much Chicken Should You Feed Your Dog?
Chicken is a common ingredient in commercial dog food and treats, so it’s safe to feed your pup chicken as a treat or occasional food topper. Just be sure it’s thoroughly cooked and unseasoned.
As with any new ingredient, moderation is key! Once your pup gets used to eating fresh chicken in small amounts, you can use the following as a guide to feeding your dog chicken. Generally speaking, your dog should have about 1/4–1/3 cup of meat protein per 20 pounds of body weight each day.
Extra-small dog (2–20 pounds) = About 1 tablespoon cooked, unseasoned chicken
Small dog (21–30 pounds) = 2 tablespoons cooked, unseasoned chicken
Medium dog (31–50 pounds) = Up to 1/4 cup cooked, unseasoned chicken
Large dog (51–90 pounds) = About 1/3 cup cooked, unseasoned chicken
Extra-large dog (91+ pounds) = About 1/2 cup cooked, unseasoned chicken
If your dog experiences digestive upset or other discomfort after chowing down on chicken, stop feeding it to them and call your vet.
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