Here’s a question I hear quite often, can dogs eat chicken?
Bear with me for a second… there’s more to this question than you might initially think!
When you factor in how it’s prepared, what potential benefits your dog can derive, if there are any dangers of chicken, and other important questions, you can see that it’s not as simple as yes and no.
(If you’re looking for what fruits and veggies your four-legged friend can have, check out our list here.)
We’re going to cover a lot of different areas of this topic, so if you’re looking for something specific, you can jump to a section here:
- Is Chicken Good for Dogs?
- Benefits of Chicken for Dogs
- Training Dogs Using Chicken
- Preparation Types for Chicken
But if you’re here for the full scoop, let’s dive into our question: can dogs eat chicken?
The good news is, if you’ve been giving your dog chicken, you can keep on doing it.
Because long story short, yes, dogs can eat chicken.
Is Chicken Good for Dogs?
Just as it is for people, chicken is good for dogs according to petMD veterinary expert, Dr. Katy Nelson. Chicken is lean meat, so it provides a hefty energy boost without a high calorie count.
So feel free to give your dog chicken to supplement its normal diet — just be sure to make sure all bones are removed to avoid any injuries or digestive issues. Adding lean meats like chicken, cooked grains, and vegetables like green beans to your dog’s diet can provide a great nutrient boost and keep your dog excited about dinner time.
Here’s a fun mini-quiz 👇
Chicken provides a number of benefits for dogs, just as it does for people.
In addition to being a low-calorie source of energy, there are a lot of other benefits of incorporating chicken into your dog’s diet. They include:
- A high protein count that helps build lean muscle mass, so your dog won’t lose a game of tug-of-war again.
- Omega 6 fatty acids that keep skin healthy and promotes a soft, shiny coat. More belly rubs, please.
- Essential amino acids that promote strong bones, so your dog will feel like a puppy forever.
The benefits of chicken for dogs makes it a great meat to include in their diets.
Since chicken is a delicious and nutritious choice for your dog, it makes for a great training treat.
Positive reinforcement training is one of the most effective methods for training your dog. And having a great training treat can make all the difference in helping your dog learn wanted behaviors.
Got a minute? Listen to our podcast episode on the science behind positive reinforcement training and let us know what you think!
There are a few great options when it comes to chicken treats. Our current favorites (in addition to small pieces of cooked chicken) are:
Chicken Jerky Treats (best for spoiling your pup)
- Just one ingredient: dehydrated chicken breast
- No fillers, sugars, junk, or mess
- The perfect size for an extra-special reward, yet only 16-19 calories per treat
- No refrigeration necessary, so they can be stored anywhere you need them
Freeze-Dried Chicken Training Treats (best for dedicated training sessions)
- Small size perfect for training
- No fillers, sugars, junk or mess
- Only 1 calorie per treat
- Added natural antioxidants
For some bonus info about training with treats, be sure to check out this article.
Now for the main “meat” (sorry for that awful pun) of this article 👇
Since we’ve answered that dogs can (and should) eat chicken, the next question is how to best prepare it!
Of course, that will depend on how you are using the chicken. For example, feeding it as part of a meal compared to using it as a treat.
We’ll look at four different preparation types of chicken for dogs.
Since chicken is the type of food a dog could be eating in the wild, it’s okay for them to eat it in the same way, right?
In other words, can dogs eat raw chicken?
The answer to this question is not as straightforward as the others so far.
Some people shy away from feeding their dogs raw chicken because of the possibility of salmonella or bacteria. But dogs’ stomachs are much more acidic than humans’, so they can fight off more bacteria in raw meat than we can.
While cooked chicken is a perfectly acceptable and delicious option for your dog, raw chicken is not always harmful as long as it’s handled properly and prepared safely.
Be sure to pay attention to “Best By” dates, handling methods, and storage temperatures of raw meat to prevent bacteria growth.
Another important note when feeding raw chicken is to disinfect any areas where the chicken may touch. That can include your hands, your dog’s bowl, where the chicken is cut, etc..
Wanting to maintain the nutritional benefits of raw chicken without the risk of bacteria? Keep reading below 👇
There are two main prepared ways to safely feed your dog chicken that’s uncooked, at least in the traditional sense: dehydrated and freeze-dried.
For this section, I’ll focus on freeze-dried.
Here at Pupford, our freeze-dried treats go through a unique freeze-drying process that runs as follows. 🔽
Step 1: Raw treats are flash-frozen to lock in freshness
Step 2: The treats enter a freeze-dryer where extreme cold and vacuum pressure is applied
Step 3: Water, in the form of ice crystals, is transformed within a millisecond, by “flashing” from a solid into a gas, skipping the liquid stage
Step 4: The gas is then attracted to freezer plates that are -60° F
Step 5: Upon contact, the gas flashes back into ice and gathers on the plate
Step 6: The process repeats for 44-48 hours until all the ice crystals have transformed into a gas
Step 7: The freeze-dryer is then cleaned and prepared for the next run
Step 8: Once the final treat is bagged, it goes through an additional bacteria and germ-killing process
This unique process helps lock in optimal amounts of nutrition in each treat.
That means your pup reaps the nutritional benefits of “raw” meat, without the risk of germs or bacteria.
Additionally, freeze-drying significantly increases the shelf life of the treats. Meaning you can take them in your bag, store them around your home (for impromptu training sessions that will surely pop up), or use them for travel. YUM!
Did someone say chicken treat?
Dehydration uses hot, dry air to remove moisture from the chicken to remove most of the water.
The process circulates hot and dry air across the food. This removes much of the water.
The moist air is then dried so that water continues to be removed. The temperatures are high enough to remove water but not high enough to cook the food.
With both methods (freeze-dried and dehydrated), the nutritional value of the chicken is preserved and, although it is not technically cooked, the shelf life is significantly increased and bacteria are eliminated due to the heat (or freezing) used during the processes.
This makes it a great option for something that may not be able to be refrigerated and needs to be kept for a long time — like dog treats.
If you want to cook chicken for your dogs, that can be a great option as well!
You can either boil, bake, or grill chicken for your pup.
The main thing to remember is to keep it extremely plain and basic. Avoid spices, butter, garlic, or really any additions to the chicken.
Just keep it plain. This can then be used as a great training tool.
Of course, the disadvantage of using cooked chicken for training treats is that it doesn’t last long after being cooked, must be refrigerated, and can often be messy.
Those are some major reasons we recommend our Freeze-Dried Chicken Training Treats.
Recap of Chicken for Dogs
So whether you’re looking to treat your dog for a new skill or just want a way to boost the nutrition of your dog’s meal, chicken is a fantastic option!
Be sure to check out our brand NEW Chicken Training Treats! Currently, 15% off, get yours here!
Bonus content: If you’re working on training your dog on new behaviors, be sure to check out our 100% free dog training app.