Is chicken dangerous for dogs and cats?
Do you feed your pet chicken? Most dogs and cats love the taste of chicken and it is a favourite for many. However, there are a few safety factors to keep in mind when giving them chicken.
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
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Cooked chicken and other recipes
It is tempting to let dogs and cats taste a piece of chicken, or have leftovers, from meals that we have cooked for ourselves and our families. It is important to remember that some everyday spices used in cooking chicken can irritate a dog's stomach, resulting in symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. In this case, it is better to scrape off any spices before giving it to your dog. Why not cook a separate piece for your dog without any spices? Alternative ideas include making a plain salt-free chicken broth or soup, and including rice. Remember to weigh the amount of food you give your pet everyday. This ensures that you provide a consistent and balanced diet specific to their weight and activity, helping to avoid them becoming overweight.
Drumsticks and bones
Compared to chicken breast, which contains no bones, parts of a whole chicken, such as the thighs or wings, can pose a serious risk to dogs. This is because pieces can get stuck in a dog's throat, stomach or the intestine. When the bones are crunched, it creates sharp ends which can pierce the delicate walls of the digestive system. Cooked bones are more brittle, and therefore shatter more easily than raw bones, however both pose a risk. If you feed raw chicken legs as part of your dog’s diet, it is advisable to supervise their meal times. If your pet has eaten chicken bones then keep an eye out for blood in their stool.
Many dogs are eager to eat and, if they eat very quickly, there is also a risk that chicken legs could get stuck in the dog's throat. We would recommend preparing your dog’s food safely to avoid these risks. Read our article for advice on how to help your dog to slow their eating and make the most out of meal times.
If you feed raw chicken, it is important to be aware that the chicken can contain bacteria that can make a dog or cat unwell. For example, chicken may contain Salmonella, Campylobacter or ESBL (Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase) bacteria that carry resistance genes to certain antibiotics. These are also potentially dangerous to humans. Good hygiene is therefore essential when handling raw chicken, or feeding it to your pet. Food bowls and surfaces that the dogs have eaten from should be disinfected after the dog has finished eating. If your dog is currently receiving a course of prescribed antibiotics, it may be a good idea not to feed raw chicken or similar raw food, until after the treatment course is finished. This is because bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics.
Dried chicken treats
There is a huge range of dog treats with dried chicken available, which many dogs love. When using training aids or feeding treats, we would recommend reducing some of their allocated daily food allowance in order to avoid excess calories and over-feeding your dog. When selecting treats for your dog, it is important to avoid those that contain additives or preservatives, and to always provide your dog with access to plenty of fresh water. If your dog shows signs of dehydration, increased thirst or urination, or they are off colour, always seek veterinary advice. Read more about how to do a simple examination of your pet at home.
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