Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken?
The Safe Eating Guide
Are you considering a raw diet for your dog? Can dogs eat raw chicken? Here’s what you should know about raw feeding, and whether or not is risky for your pup.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken?
It depends. In general, yes, but only if you follow strict sanitary measures. If you’re considering feeding your dog raw chicken, you likely want to start a raw meat diet, or the ‘bones and raw food’ -BARF’ diet.
Before starting such a sudden diet change, it’s important to consult your vet. While raw, unprocessed foods can have many health benefits, they should be done under close medical supervision. This is especially important if you’re a new dog owner or don’t have ample experience managing your dog’s diet.
Why Would You Want To Feed Your Dog Raw Chicken?
The main argument for introducing raw chicken in a dog’s diet, as well as other raw foods, is based on the premise of a dog’s natural diet. In the wild and before they became human companions, dogs had a diet based on wild game and very little plant materials. Another reason for switching to a raw diet is to avoid the chemicals and excessive grains found in regular dry kibble and other processed foods.
Nowadays, you can find ready-made raw food for dogs, or you can make it yourself at home. This is where feeding your dog raw chicken comes in.
What You Need About Raw Chicken
Want to feed your dog raw chicken? There are some things you should keep in mind:
Dogs aren’t as close to wild predators as some people think
One of the earliest arguments for feeding dogs a raw diet is the fact they are genetically close to wolves. Since wild wolves have a biologically limited capacity to digest carbohydrates, one would think dogs have a similar biology. Well, that’s not so true. Centuries of domestication have changed dogs’ digestion and they’ve been able to digest a diet relatively high in carbohydrates for several hundred years at least. This is reinforced by different studies in zoos, where a domestic carnivore diet -meaning a balance between carbs and protein- was linked to better longevity.
Dogs that eat raw chicken are more exposed to infection
Often, raw chicken contains dangerous bacteria that can make your dog sick. Nowadays, experts know there is significantly more potentially serious pathogens in raw pet food than in heat-treated food. Researchers have found that salmonellosis, caused by salmonella, is a danger among dogs fed with raw chicken.
Raw chicken can spread resistant bacteria
The poultry industry uses plenty of antibiotics to treat and prevent disease. However, systemic antibiotic use has fostered resistant bacteria that aren’t fazed by traditional treatments. Eating antibiotic-treated raw chicken, or giving raw chicken to your dog, can help spread these resistant pathogens. If your dog were to get sick from their food, it would be more difficult to treat.
Raw chicken consumption might pose health risks for you
Yes, if your dog catches bacteria from raw chicken, they might pass it on to you. In fact, different studies show that humans can contract salmonellosis after being in contact with infected pets or their food. Transmission is a very real risk, and you should consider it before giving raw chicken to your dog.
PRO TIP: Most veterinary councils recommend against homemade raw diets because contamination risk is higher than with other pre-packaged foods.
PRO TIP: If you want to feed your dog raw chicken, consult with your vet beforehand.
PRO TIP: Whenever you’re handling raw chicken for your dog, disinfect all surfaces and only offer the freshest chicken possible.
Should My Dog Eat Raw Chicken? Benefits of Raw Chicken For Dogs
Despite the risks of feeding a raw diet, there are some benefits to feeding raw chicken to your dog. Yes, your dog can eat raw chicken and sometimes it could be good for their health.
Since raw chicken has many more bacteria than cooked protein, your dog will have a healthier and more diverse gut microbiome than with a typical dry food. On top of this, a small study examining 6 boxers saw that a raw diet produced smaller, firmer stools as well as more diverse faecal bacteria.
On the other hand, if your dog has shown intolerances to common dry food ingredients, like grains, has inflammatory conditions, or is diagnosed with diabetes, a raw diet might provide a better nutritional balance.
Risks Of Feeding Raw Chicken To Your Dog
We’ve already covered how raw chicken can cause intestinal upset and salmonellosis in dogs and humans. But a bigger risk with raw chicken, and raw diets in general, is improper nutrition. In fact, investigations of both homemade and commercially prepared raw diets have generally identified nutritional problems.
The specific deficiencies typically refer to a lack of vitamins and imbalances in calcium/phosphorous. These deficiencies have to do with lack of testing from commercially available raw dog food, and the tendency owners have to make recipes simpler and skip the ‘extras. To avoid this, always consult with your vet before starting a raw diet for your dog.
Feeding dogs raw chicken has some positive effects, like strengthening their gut flora. However, the risks are high and you might be fostering nutritional deficiencies. Official studies are still in development, so most of the arguments for and against a raw diet for dogs are mainly anecdotal.
Like with any other big diet change, we recommend talking to your vet before switching your dog’s diet.
Want to learn more about what types of food dogs can and can't eat? Check out our below guides:
- Davies, R. H., et al. (2019). Raw diets for dogs and cats: a review, with particular reference to microbiological hazards. The Journal of small animal practice, 60(6), 329–339. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsap.13000
- Van Bree, F., et al. (2018). Zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs. The Veterinary record, 182(2), 50. https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.104535
- Sandri, M., et al. (2017). Raw meat-based diet influences faecal microbiome and end products of fermentation in healthy dogs. BMC veterinary research, 13(1), 65. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-017-0981-z