The majority of pet owners feed their dogs kibble or wet food. However, more and more dog owners are shifting to a raw food diet. In addition to those feeding a raw food diet, some owners are learning about the benefits of providing occasional raw food as a supplement to their dog’s regular diet.
Chicken is a staple of the modern dog’s diet. Is it safe to feed your dog raw chicken?
Can dogs eat raw chicken legs?
There’s some debate on whether dogs should be fed raw chicken legs. Raw chicken does pose some risks, but also brings health benefits.
What is a Chicken Leg?
Chicken leg and chicken drumstick are often used interchangeably, but there are different cuts of meat. A chicken leg includes the drumstick and the thigh. These two pieces remain connected, creating one large piece.
Benefits of Raw Chicken
The raw diet is gaining in popularity for good reason. Commercial foods are made with many foods your dog wouldn’t naturally eat in the wild. They are highly processed, and have preservatives to extend the shelf life of the food.
When you feed your dog raw chicken, they are eating as nature intended. This is what they were designed to consume. There are no worries about preservatives or losing nutrients through processing.
It also lowers your dog’s risk of obesity. If you are concerned about food allergies, a raw diet makes management easier. You know exactly what your pooch is eating.
Other benefits of a raw diet include a healthier coat, a lower risk of skin conditions, higher energy levels, and smaller poop piles.
It’s important to note that feeding a completely raw diet requires careful planning. You’ll need to be sure your dog gets enough of all major nutrients by feeding correct proportions of different meats.
Supplementing a commercial diet with raw chicken can also provide the benefits listed above. Some of them may be seen to a lesser degree, but it’s still a great way to care for your pet.
Salmonella is the number one problem with feeding your dog raw chicken legs. It’s the number one cause of food poisoning, and can make you or your dog very sick.
Salmonella is found in uncooked meats, with chicken being the main culprit. Other food items, like lettuce, can also become contaminated with salmonella.
Obviously, you should never feed your dog any food that shows signs of spoilage, because it’s likely to harbor dangerous bacteria. However, salmonella is problematic because the meat will appear fine, even though it is contaminated with the bacteria.
You probably know that you should be careful when handling raw chicken. You should wash your hands, and disinfect any surface the chicken comes into contact with. This is because salmonella can transfer from the raw chicken you placed on your counter to the lettuce wrap you are having for lunch.
The signs of salmonella poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, and lack of appetite. If your dog shows these symptoms, particularly after eating raw meat, you’ll need to make a vet appointment.
If your dog has a poor immune system, salmonella can be fatal. In most cases, it is treated with antibiotics and the pooch makes a full recovery. Not without some very sick days, however.
How Big a Danger is Salmonella?
Salmonella is certainly a risk when feeding your dog raw chicken, but the actual risk to your dog is unclear. Dogs have a higher acidity level in their stomach than we do. You’ve probably seen your dog eating something that would make you violently ill at some point.
It may have been spoiled meat, garbage, or even a dead animal. Dogs have evolved to eat raw meat, and even meat that has been dead for days. This is how they survive in the wild.
According to the FDA, dogs and cats rarely contract salmonella. However, when they do, they can spread it to their owners. Dogs can shed the bacteria in their feces and saliva, even if they aren’t showing symptoms of the illness themselves.
In most cases, a dog who gets salmonella poisoning has an underlying health issue that makes them more susceptible.
If you want to feed your dog raw chicken and minimize the risk, it’s wise to speak with your vet. If your pooch has no health problems that can weaken their digestive system, the risk is low.
If you are at a higher risk of salmonella complications, this should be considered as well. For most people, salmonella can cause them to be very sick, but causes no permanent damage. However, the very young, elderly, and pregnant women are at a higher risk of serious complications or death from salmonella.
How Much Is Too Much?
A full leg portion is a hefty meal for a dog, particularly a smaller pooch. If your dog is eating a raw diet, a large dog should have about 2 pounds of raw chicken at least once a day. This should be supplemented with organs and beef, at least some days.
If your dog isn’t eating a completely raw diet, and you are supplementing their standard pet food, one chicken leg may be too much, particularly if they aren’t accustomed to raw meat.
Can dogs eat chicken feet?
Chicken feet can be an excellent addition to your dog’s diet. They are very high in glucosimine and chondroitin, which support joint health. They also make a great chewy.
Benefits of Chicken Feet
Chicken feet are high in many vitamins and minerals. If your dog eats a commercial diet, they are a great supplement. If your dog has a raw diet, they are still a suitable treat.
The texture of chicken feet make them an excellent dental bone. The act of chewing the feet will help clean your dog’s teeth.
The glucosomine and chondrotin in chicken feet is highly beneficial for joint health. If you have an older dog who suffers from arthritis, they may help relieve the symptoms, particularly over time.
They are high in protein and low in calories. If your dog is on a diet, they are a great alternative to commercial dog treats. In addition to being low calories, they provide entertainment and can keep your dog occupied much longer than typical treats.
Fresh or Frozen Chicken Feet
The simplest way to get chicken feet is at your local butcher or grocery store. When it comes to chicken feet, it’s ok to feed your dog “human food”. Some stores carry raw chicken feet. Others may have frozen chicken feet.
They have not been processed at all. They are similar to something your dog would eat in the wild, which can provide a healthy addition to a standard diet. You’ll need to store them in the fridge or freezer, just as you would raw meat.
Dehydrated Chicken Feet
If you want a treat with a longer shelf life, or a slightly less lifelike appearance, dehydrated chicken feet are an option. These are often sold as dog treats. Because they are dehydrated, they can be stored at room temperature for up to 6 months.
Can dogs eat raw chicken drumsticks?
Raw chicken drumsticks will carry the same risks and benefits of raw chicken legs. Generally, if your dog is healthy, you can feed your pooch raw chicken drumsticks.
Chicken Handling Safety
There are ways you can reduce the risk of salmonella and other problematic bacteria. First, always rinse the chicken thoroughly before serving it to your dog.
Do not thaw frozen chicken on the counter. It should be thawed in the refrigerator. If you really need to thaw it quickly, use the microwave. It may diminish its nutritional value slightly, but it won’t allow bacteria to grow.
Never let chicken sit at room temperature. Once it reaches room temperature, harmful bacteria begin to grow. If your dog doesn’t finish their meal, dispose of any leftover raw meat after they finish eating.
Can dogs eat raw chicken wings?
Yes, your dog can eat raw chicken wings. The risks and precautions are the same as they are for other pieces of raw chicken. However, wings do not have much meat on them.
They are safe as a treat, but they should not make up a significant part of your dog’s diet, because they are mostly made of bone.
What to do if my dog eats raw chicken legs or feet?
You had no intention of feeding your dog raw chicken. You placed some chicken on your counter, and walked away for a moment. When you come back, your dog is enjoying a feast of raw chicken. Should you be worried?
The Good News
The good news is your dog should be fine. The risk of salmonella for dogs is low. However, your dog can experience some adverse effects.
What to Expect
If your dog isn’t accustomed to raw food, they may experience diarrhea. Diarrhea can also occur simply from switching your dog’s food, so it’s not necessarily an indication of illness.
It’s simply something new, and their digestive tract isn’t accustomed to it. The larger the amount of chicken they ate, the higher the chances of mild stomach upset.
However, if you notice severe diarrhea, vomiting, or fever, you’ll need to visit the vet. They may have salmonella poisoning.
How many raw chicken legs can a dog eat?
This depends on your dog’s weight and their diet. If you are feeding a raw diet, you’ll want to feed 2-4% of your dog’s body weight each day, preferably split between two meals.
You’ll want to feed chicken, including the bones, organ meat, and some beef.
If you are supplementing your dog’s regular diet, start slow. Give them one chicken leg, or even one half a leg a day. If your dog isn’t used to eating bones, only give them bones a few times a week. Bones are great for your dog’s health, but too many can cause constipation.
Can dogs eat raw chicken?
Generally, yes a healthy dog can eat raw chicken. If your dog has any health issues or you have concerns, speak to your vet first. If you aren’t comfortable with feeding raw chicken, but you’d like to improve their diet, there are some other options.
Chicken feet have a low risk of salmonella, so they are a better option if the bacteria is a concern. Just wash them thoroughly before serving, and get them from a reputable source.
Cooked chicken can be a high protein addition to your dog’s regular diet. Cook the chicken thoroughly and don’t add any spices or seasonings. However, never feed your dog cooked chicken bones. They become brittle and can splinter.
This can cause your dog to choke. They can also cause perforations in your dog’s esophagus or digestive tract, because the splinters are hard and sharp.