4 min read

Can Dogs Eat Chicken?


By Kevin Hughes

Published: 04/23/2024, edited: 05/11/2024

Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

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Can dogs eat chicken? It sounds like a question with an obvious answer — of course, dogs can eat chicken, and most dogs will love the taste of this white meat, too. After all, chicken is one of the most popular and common ingredients in many dog food recipes.

An excellent source of protein, chicken is also low in fat compared to other meats, particularly beef, pork and duck. For this reason, it’s frequently found as the main ingredient in many low fat dog food recipes.

In dog foods that are listed as being of chicken ‘flavor’, read the ingredients label closely to see exactly what type of chicken is included. It might be real chicken breast, chicken liver, chicken heart or chicken gizzard, or what’s known as ‘chicken meal’. Chicken meal is usually different types of chicken meat that have been rendered and ground into a powder, and has a high protein content.

But, chicken as an ingredient in dog food aside, should dogs be eating chicken regularly? Are all types of chicken safe to feed a dog? Can dogs have raw chicken? Let’s take a more in-depth look at how to feed your dog chicken.

Brown Labrador Retriever looking at cooked chicken on table

What type of chicken can dogs eat?

Most dogs will probably happily wolf down chicken in just about any form — but that doesn’t mean you should feed your pup everything! Remember, dogs generally have much more sensitive stomachs than us humans, even if they don’t realize it. They’ll usually eat first and suffer the consequences later, so it’s a pet parent’s job to make sure they’re not being given food that could upset them.

With dogs, the general rule is the plainer, the better. So, boiled chicken is fine, as is chicken that’s been grilled or roasted, providing it hasn’t been excessively seasoned. Chicken with a tiny touch of salt or pepper isn’t likely to cause any harm — as long as it’s given in small quantities — but avoid anything cooked in a sauce, or heavily seasoned with spices. Don’t serve your dog a helping of your chicken curry, for example, or if it’s been cooked with garlic and onions.

Is all chicken safe to give to my dog?

In addition to heavily seasoned chicken, types of chicken to avoid feeding your dog include:

  • Fried chicken
  • Chicken wings
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Chicken feet
  • Chicken bones

While dogs can eat raw bones, they should never eat cooked bones of any kind as these can all too easily splinter and become a choking hazard. Small cooked bones in particular are a risk.

Chicken that’s been fried in oil is likely to be too greasy and fatty for your dog to digest properly. That can lead to other health complications, such as pancreatitis or obesity.

Chicken can also be beneficial if your dog has an upset stomach. A small portion of plain, cooked chicken served with rice is widely seen as one of the best meals to give to your dog if they’re feeling a little unwell as it helps to firm up loose stools and is easy to digest.

How much chicken should I feed my dog?

Like all ‘human foods’, chicken should really only be given to your dog in small portions, appropriate in size for its weight. It’s ideal as an occasional treat, or added to dry kibble. Small breeds will need only about two tablespoon’s worth of chicken with every serving, while the largest of dogs can have around half a cup.

It’s important not to overfeed your dog, whatever it eats. 

brown dog sniffing chicken- can dogs eat chicken

Can my dog be allergic to chicken?

While cooked chicken is generally safe for dogs to eat, it won’t suit all dogs. Some pups can be allergic to chicken; in fact, it’s quite common. Poultry allergies in dogs can cause diarrhea, ear infections, chronic gas, skin rashes, itchiness and vomiting, so if you’ve fed your dog chicken and they show some or any of these symptoms, your pet may have an allergy to chicken. Or any kind of poultry, which also includes turkey.

If you suspect that your dog has a poultry allergy, you should obviously avoid giving your pet any chicken to eat. That’s easy enough to do, but you might find it more difficult when choosing a dog food to give to your pup — so many recipes include chicken either as the main ingredient or within the supporting ingredients.

However, while a poultry allergy will limit your choice of dog food, there is still plenty of choice available. Read our recommendations for the best dog food without chicken.

Can dogs eat raw chicken?

We know the answer when it comes to humans, but can dogs eat raw chicken? There’s perhaps some confusion here, because some dogs are fed a regular raw food diet — and you can look up some of the best raw dog food recipes here. That said, a raw food diet won’t suit all dogs, and you should always consult your vet first if you’re thinking of transitioning your dog to this type of food.

To stay safe, we’d always advise against raw chicken for dogs. Raw chicken can pose the threat of salmonella — and dogs can get salmonella from chickens. Chicken that hasn’t been cooked thoroughly may also carry bacteria called campylobacter, which can lead to a condition called campylobacteriosis.

The bottom line when it comes to asking can you feed dogs raw chicken? No — whether it’s raw chicken breast, raw chicken bones or anything else that hasn’t been cooked properly, it’s really not worth the risk.

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