Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken?

Can dogs eat raw chicken

Table of Contents

Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken?

Can dogs eat raw chicken? They can and even adore doing so! While kibble is a convenient type of food for most dog owners, their dogs may disagree with that. Not all of them thrive on kibble and thus require a raw diet. This is where great and yummy tender chicken makes a suitable substitute. Rich in protein, fats, and contains bones that serve as fiber promoting digestion – raw chicken is one of the best raw meat products that a dog can have. It also contains a great dose of vital collagen that helps adult dogs to preserve their bones and joints. Chicken is a type of food in which every piece is edible.

Chicken Parts

Nosy pup
I can feel the smell of chick

Whole chicken parts like neck, legs and back are counted as raw meaty bones. You can give them raw or better boil before giving to make the parts tender. The remaining chicken broth can be used for making a dog soup. Dogs can eat raw bones without any risk of injury despite the popular belief. However, dogs should not be fed small parts that may present a choking hazard.

Chicken Feet

It is an ultimate treat! Boil them, cool down in the fridge and give occasionally. Alternatively, make them a solid meal. Chicken feet are rich in collagen that supports joint health and serve as a toothbrush. You can find chicken feet in grocery stores, farmer’s markets or in Asian shops.


Livers and giblets are also available at stores. Heart despite being an organ is a muscle meat, not an organ meat. In order to provide a balanced nutrition, organs should comprise 5-10% of the whole food intake. Organs provide your dog with a highly digestible protein and essential amino acids. The best way is always to cook chicken, no matter what part of it you are feeding to your dog. Boil organs, let them cool and they will taste better rather than being given raw.

The AVMA Directions

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends to fully cook all meats and dairy products before feeding them to pets. Raw meat no matter its origin and fresh milk could possibly contain various contaminants like bacteria, toxins and microorganisms that cause severe diseases. Owners should steam, boil or roast products before feeding them and wash hands before and after feeding. Salmonella is among the most frequent pathogens that raw chicken may contain. While raw food is a good alternative to common dry kibble as a source of nutrition, it should undergo thermal processing before being fed.

Tasty dinner
You’re the best!


In order to decrease any risk that eating raw chicken may cause to your dog, please follow the guidelines:

  • Raw chicken must be fresh and properly washed.
  • Though cooking is the matter of own preferences, raw food is more hazardous than cooked.
  • Introducing your dog to a new type of food, whether it is raw or cooked, must be gradual. It is done to reduce any unwanted reaction of dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
  • Raw chicken may be major part of a raw food diet, but never should be a complete substitute. Consider raw chicken as a great and necessary supplement that should come along with fats, fiber and carbohydrates.
  • If the dog is sick, do not feed it raw chicken as its organism will use much energy to dissolve the chicken instead of battling the illness.

Any dog can eat raw chicken, feet, backs, bones, necks, skin and organs. Just make sure you are presenting your dog with new type of food moderately and pay serious attention to its eating habits.

Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones: Veterinary Concerns

Waithing dog
Where is my dinner?

Raw pet foods are much speculated about – to such an extent that it’s hard to tell who is right. There are veterinarians who do not recommend feeding anything raw while many people claim feeding their dogs raw for years without any consequences. In order to help you make own decision on the issue, we are going to approach this issue from the point of view of nutrition and veterinary advice.

Point 1: Raw Chicken is Unbalanced

Homemade diet is usually unbalanced because many dogs that undergo veterinary examinations show imbalances that could have been avoided. Deficiency in vitamins, minerals, carbs, unsaturated fats, salt, and fiber makes dog’s health prone to diseases. Imbalanced diet results in vulnerability, as the immune system is not capable of responding correctly.

Point 2: GI issues

Another point that the majority of vets present are an array of gastrointestinal problems that develops when the dog is fed more raw food in general. The speed of diet change and dysbiosis bring diarrhea, indigestion and even stomach pains. Most vets blame all cases of diarrhea on the bacteria present in raw foods rather than the quick transition to uncommon food.

Raw chicken is processed as a protein, fats and minerals (bones). It takes several hours for the stomach acid to dissolve such food while common kibble that dog’s body views as a starch digests quickly. If you add some raw chicken to usual meal containing kibble, dog’s stomach will be “baffled” resulting in belching and gassiness.

Vets recommend giving raw chicken as a treat and watching the stool that can tell a lot on the new chow. If the stool is normal, you may replace one whole meal with raw chicken. Stick to this regime for several days and should the stool remain normal, you may continue the transition to the new type of food.

If the dog was eating its favorite kibble for many months/years, it may take several weeks before the dog feels completely fine eating raw chicken.

Dog and meat
Go away from the room, please

Point 3: Diet for a Pet with GI Condition

Owners that feed their dog one type of food for years makes them insusceptible to other types. The same works with any mammal, including humans: if you eat fast food most of the time and occasionally decide to try some oats with honey and fresh fruit, you may end up with a severe disorder. The same is applicable to dog owners, who think that they are moving towards the health when feeding raw food only.

Dogs experiencing gastrointestinal problems should never be fed bones – they are too hard to digest. All dogs with GI problems are fragile and their diet transition should take place under the assistance of a holistic veterinarian. Otherwise, the dog may end up being hospitalized. Such unsuccessful attempts are the reason for vets to say that dogs do not tolerate raw food. Don’t forget that dogs descend from wild prehistoric predators that ate meat and bones only and by default, all dogs are omnivorous. It just takes more time for some of them to get used to eating raw food.

 Transition to a Raw Diet: What to Expect?

One of the most “durable” myths is that dogs cannot get food poisoning. Domestic animals get poisoning from eating contaminated meat just like predators in the wild end up dead after eating toxic meat. It is a natural population control mechanism present in all creatures. This is why you should examine the meat before giving it to the dog. If you are concerned that it may be rancid in some way, refuse buying it or cook it (boiling, frying). Cooking can be done when the raw chicken is about to meet its shell life end.

Dog wants meat
I really need it!

Chicken is not hairy and usually is served without any feathers that are normally eaten by predators in the wild. Horns, hooves, feathers, coat, hair, skin are the source of fibers that promote digestion. Raw chicken is not processed by the dog stomach completely if it contains skin and some bones. But, feeding raw chicken in way of organs or meat can make the intestine constipated. In such case, you should usually enrich the diet with veggies or other sources of fibers. And what do some veterinarians do? Exactly – they forbid feeding raw foods in general. Raw food produces hard balls of poop that pass easily. They turn white, crumble and are blown away in a day. It is completely normal, but is not the only significant change. In a month or so, the dog undergoes detoxification which is also normal and is something to celebrate. Excessive shedding, a lot of earwax produced and mucus blobs in stool – these are the signs of detoxification that you need not worry about. Also, the water intake will diminish as raw meat by default contains almost 70% of water unlike the dry kibble.

Mistakes to Avoid

Some sites really freak out experienced dog experts and owners by saying that, one may introduce raw chicken by simply throwing a whole bird to a dog that’s normally eating dry kibble. Such “experts” say that the dog knows what to do with it. We agree that the dog knows: bite and chew. However, we know what will happen after that. Any bony meat is a potential choking hazard that many dogs don’t do fine with. If you know that your dog is a thorough chewer, it is ok giving it some chicken. If a dog is a swallower that devours legs and wings in no time, it is a big problem that may end up with a hospitalized dog.

Dogs eating
I need it more than you think

However, there is one important point to note. Many dogs chew chicken properly while other crunch it a couple of times and swallow. Eventually, both of them are feeling good. As we know – the better you chew your food, the better and faster it is digested. However, some dogs show exactly the same healthy gastrointestinal tract as those who chew thoroughly. What we want to say here is that, many owners seeing their dogs devouring several bones in under a minute will be terrified and will rush to calling their vet while there is no danger at all! If your dog swallowed many bones, you may be tempted to visit the vet and perform an X-ray that will show all bones inside. However, it will take more time to digest them all eventually. Thus, you end up with a vet bill and a completely healthy dog that needs prolonged fasting and more supervision when eating.

The best way to ensure that no “stuck-in-throat” problem ever occurs is to grind up the food or feed smaller portions/pre-ground foods to dogs.

Feeding Safety

Knucklebones and all sorts of chew bones in general can fracture dog’s teeth. It is a common misconception that dogs can chew almost any bone. It is true and not true at the same time: dogs are natural chewers and will bite on everything solid. At the same time not every objects they are chewing can be eaten completely without hurting their teeth. Recreational bones destined for canine dental health are another pair of shoes. They usually match the size of their head and thus cannot be easily swallowed or eaten completely. Small bones may cause tooth fractures if the dog is an aggressive chewer.

If you see that the bone is making splinters when being cracked, take it from the dog immediately. Also, you should know that raw bones contain marrow which is fat. This is why you should approach giving your dog bones very meticulously. What that is supposed to mean is that, introduce the bone gradually, starting with several minutes the first week. Offer a chicken bone (better with meat or skin on it) and see what the dog does. Many dog fanciers living in rural areas buys chicken feet, boil them and offer as a solid meal which it actually is. Before you make such transition, offer at least one paw daily for a week. Continue offering a paw/ a wing once a day until dog’s digestion fully adapts to the new food.

Research Behind the Dogs Eating Raw Food

Though, our topic is feeding raw chicken and its benefits, the research behind eating raw in general is very important. The information you are about to read is truthful as it has been evaluated by researches and shared by specialists with outstanding experience.

Doug Jnueven, DVM of the beaver Animal Clinic, Pennsylvania says that, raw food is more beneficial to most animals than processed foods. Being an expert in holistic medicine, he consults Nature’s Variety, a Lincoln (Nebraska) based manufacturer of frozen raw products.


Dogs tongue
It was sooo tasty

Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, performed evaluation of raw food diets and presented her research in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association in 2001. She says that, many dog owners choose raw diet based on the web myths and reviews while considering commercial food as something non-recommended. She advised using homemade diet designed by a nutritionist certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. Being a nutritionist herself, Freeman says that any benefit attributed to eating raw food can be explained from the point of view of the content. For instance, animal fats promote hair growth and natural shine. She notes that, any dog owner may choose a commercial substitution and get the same result without any imbalance. Her conclusion is that sticking to one diet protocol strictly will eventually lead to imbalance and shortage of vital nutrients. This is why any dog owner should diversify the diet in terms of macronutrients that the dog receives and never feed only protein.  For instance, carbs promote energy performance, fats control metabolism and proteins is the construction material for almost any tissue present in dog’s body. Also, don’t forget fiber and water which complete an exemplary diet.

Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, says that, fats are often underestimated. Poor coats, bad skin and weak bones plus sluggishness, weakness are the least of troubles that fat malnutrition can cause. On the other hand, a dog can get the necessary amount of fats faster than protein. Normally, any dog food or products contain fats in abundance while proper protein intake requires tracking macros and searching for special products with low fat content. Too much fat and not enough protein cause mild anemia. Wakshlag, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has more to tell you. Raw diet or simply saying raw food may not cover the necessity in calcium and phosphorus that leads to dental and bone problems. The quality of diet has significant impact on the overall well-being of any organism – be it a dog or a human. In short, eating properly means eating everything your body needs. This is why sticking to diet is hard, not due to mental obstacle, but due to the necessity to track the content of daily meals.

Hungry pup
You know what to do!

The FDA in 2004 issued a work on raw pet food, citing that there is a possibility of health risks both for pets and their owners. This line best corresponds to the opinion we shared with you previously: the food should be cooked and you should wash hands and pay attention to hygiene. Eating raw may be beneficial in theory, but the practice tells that cooked food is always better. Especially when speaking about possible contagious parts like chicken innards. A study of 20 commercial raw meat diets resulted in a 7.1% possibility of salmonella presence in them. Though, the chance is not significant, it still may take place and heat processing of raw chicken is more beneficial. The FDA moved further in their research and now we have more vital information to share with you:

  • Raw meat diets high in liver (chicken liver is among the best foods and can be bought anywhere) supply too much vitamin A that leads to toxicity when fed for long period.
  • Chicken is rich in protein (normally, 16-22 grams per 100 grams of raw weight) and should not be fed to dogs experiencing liver or kidney failure.
  • Dogs with pancreatitis/digestive issues in general should be fed only cooked homemade diet before switching to raw.
  • Dogs diagnosed with cancer or those undergoing chemotherapy should not eat raw food at all.
  • Puppies have weak alimentary tract and should be presented to raw food when reaching 4-6 months of age. Start with feet and innards. Add backs and solid bones later.

The FDA gives certain recommendation which can be called “average” for an “average” dog. Of course, these recommendations are scientifically proven, but what dog fanciers have to tell you from their point of view?


Guilty dogWe have presented you a big article on the raw chicken and have “seasoned” it with scientific facts that may sound too Greek… What actually is interesting to know is that there is no big and evident difference between the diets that dog experts and dog fanciers recommend! Digging in the Net, at several dog forums has brought us to the conclusion that, feeding raw chicken is normal. It is a great diet that is offered to dogs at the age of several months. Dog owners claimed their dogs thrived on raw chicken and always show great appetite towards the same food when given daily. Some owners use directions advised by their veterinarians and add some vegetables and rice to complete the diet to supply their dogs with all nutrients.

In conclusion, we would like to say that, it is always up to you our dear readers, to do one way or another. However, we agree that raw chicken is great food, but requires thorough examination of pros, cons as well as consulting with your veterinarian. Saying shortly, we:

  • Recommend adding some raw chicken first as a treat and sometime later as a separate solid meal.
  • Chicken should be cooked despite the focus of this article on feeding raw only.
  • Buy and feed fresh chicken only. Cook it to prevent any salmonella contamination.
  • Experiment with chicken feet, innards, raw meat, wings, necks, spines to find which parts the dog will like the most. Don’t forget that, solid meat costs much compared to chicken parts that are also called “meat”.
  • Can dogs eat raw chicken? They can and sometimes, the change of diet shows many benefits in terms of dog’s well-being.

We hope this article is comprehensive enough to help you make up your mind on whether you should be feeding raw chicken to your dog or not.