It’s been pounded into your head that raw chicken is teeming with bacteria that can make you seriously ill. There are specific protocols for storing, thawing, and cooking chicken so nobody in your family gets ill. It only makes sense, then, that you’ve been avoiding giving your dog raw meat to protect them. However, using a few precautions, you can safely give your dog raw chicken.
Is Raw Chicken and All Its Counterparts Safe for Dogs?
Dogs can eat raw chicken, including the bones, without any negative side effects if you take the necessary steps to keep them safe. While you’ve been told that dogs should never have chicken bones, that warning is specifically about cooked chicken bones. When the bones are raw, they’re fairly soft and flexible, meaning they’re easy to chew. If they’re cooked, these bones become brittle and become sharp when chewed. Remember that dogs are descendants from wolves and other wild dogs where bones are a staple in their diet. Raw chicken bones are actually very dense in nutrients essential for dogs, as well as doing the job of cleaning their teeth and gums as they chew on them.
You can also feed your dog raw chicken organs. The organs are actually the most nutritious part of the chicken, but as humans, we tend to stick to the white meat. The liver and giblets are particularly good for your dog, and it’s actually recommended that at least five percent of a raw diet should consist of the organs. These organs give dogs essential amino acids to support their skin and coat health, help with optimal organ functions, and repair damaged tissues. Organs are also a fantastic source of protein that is very digestible by dogs, making organs a great choice for very active, fit dogs.
Chicken feet are commonly overlooked as a good food source. The rough texture is a great way to naturally clean the dog’s teeth and reduce tartar buildup. The feet are high in glucosamine, a nutrient that’s excellent for joint health. Raw chicken feet are a good choice for older dogs because they combat the deterioration of teeth due to age and help fight against arthritis.
Taking the Necessary Precautions with Raw Chicken
Despite raw meat, organs, and bones being good for your dog, they aren’t immune to bacterial infections, and salmonella is found quite often in most chicken. You should treat raw meat for your dog like you’d treat raw meat for your family. Don’t let frozen meat thaw on the counter; it’s best to thaw it in the refrigerator to mitigate bacterial growth. Before you feed it to your dog, rinse it thoroughly under cold water. Finally, don’t let any unfinished chicken sit in their bowl. Once your dog has eaten their fill, throw any remaining meat away. Once it reaches room temperature, it’s reached the perfect temperature to grow bacteria and make your dog sick. Don’t re-refrigerate meat that’s become room temperature.
When you feed your dog chicken bones, you have a few more precautions to take. First, ensure that the bones you’re giving your dog aren’t cooked. As soon as they’re cooked, they take on that brittle, splintering quality that can damage the esophagus and intestines, as well as lodge in the throat or digestive tract. The bones should be big enough that they can’t be swallowed whole by your dog. Feed raw bones in moderation. While they’re good for your dog, too many of them will constipate your dog. Talk to your veterinarian about how many you can feed your dog, but a general rule of thumb is no more than one or two raw bones a week, spacing out each serving by a few days.
Always supervise your dog as they’re eating bones. If they become too enthusiastic, they could try to swallow a large bone whole and wind up choking. Dogs will love their bones, so take care to keep your children and other pets away from your dog while they’re consuming them. Some dogs might become aggressive as they’re eating bones, and you don’t want your kids or other pets getting bit. Some dogs might develop behavior problems due to the bones. If this occurs with your dog, you should discontinue them and stick to their normal diet.
Finally, avoid giving your dog large marrow bones. These have very thick outer rims and include t-bones, lamb cutlets, and knuckle bones. The biggest risk with these is your dog cracking a tooth on the bone, which will then require surgical removal.
A Note About Raw Diets for Dogs
Raw diets are quickly becoming popular among devoted dog owners. While a raw diet can be exceptionally healthy for your dog, if it is done incorrectly, it can lead to malnourishment in your dog. Wild dogs eat a raw diet, but you have to remember that when they’re lacking a certain vitamin or mineral, they know where to forage to find what their body needs. Domesticated dogs don’t have that option. Commercial dog food diets are perfectly balanced for your dog and provide all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are required for optimal health. Raw diet proponents say that a commercial diet can’t possibly compare to a raw one, but dog food companies have put years of research and significant amounts of money into their products to ensure dogs are getting a well-rounded food.
If you think a raw diet is the best choice for your dog, talk to your veterinarian or find a vet who’s experienced in helping owners build a proper nutritional plan for dogs.
When you’ve done all of your research, talked to the necessary experts, and taken the necessary precautions, feeding your dog raw chicken, bones, feet, and organs can be very healthy for your dog. Not only will your dog reap the nutritional benefits of the raw meat, you’ll be a veritable god in their eyes.