Chicken is probably the most popular and common food that people feed their dogs. Because of its complete protein profile, people are always wondering how much is appropriate to have in their dog’s diet.
Chicken has been known to possess many benefits for dogs, including increased muscle repair and helping promote bone health.
If fed to a dog daily, it may have positive effects on a dog’s overall health. As well as being the least expensive meat, chicken is also very high in lean protein, B3 and B6 vitamins and phosphorous and selenium.
But can I feed my dog chicken everyday?
The evidence from scientific studies has shown that chicken in a dogs diet may have many positive effects on our pups. This article goes through the scientific benefits of chicken for dogs, along with what type of chicken ingredients to avoid when choosing a dog food.
Vitamins and Minerals in Chicken
A high quality protein with natural vitamins and minerals is essential for healthy dogs in all stages of their lives. Chicken is not only very high in lean protein, but in B3 and B6 vitamins, phosphorous and selenium as well.
Vitamin B6 is one of the vitamins that is responsible for protein synthesis in dogs. This is especially important for a growing puppy. It also plays a key role in healthy hemoglobin production[*].
Phosphorus also plays a versatile role in a dog’s diet. Along with calcium, it is responsible for healthy bones and bone density. When a dog is deficient in phosphorus, they can experience bone weakness and fractures[*].
Selenium is a trace element that is known to have many benefits to dog. Some of these include antioxidant properties, improved skin and coat condition, and a stronger immune system[*].
While these are all are essential to your dog’s health, it is important to note that naturally occurring nutrients in chicken may be more bioavailable than dried supplements alone[*].
In conclusion, chicken has many essential and beneficial nutrients that are present in its natural form.
Avoid Chicken Meals and By-Products
Responsible dog owners take pride in making sure that their dogs are fed with the most high-quality food. But many dogs can develop allergies to food at any stage in their life.
Dogs can experience a variety of symptoms when they develop a food allergy. Some of these symptoms include:
- Various gastrointestinal issues
If left alone, these symptoms can progress into other more serious health issues.
But why does this happen with regular dog food?
Unfortunately, many of the cheaper foods available to dogs contain by-products and “meals” such as chicken meal or bonemeal. This type of ingredient may contain bones and other parts of chicken that may not be meat itself, such as beaks and fragments of feathers.
These types of ingredients are considered fillers, and can cause extra gastrointestinal issues.
So why should you feed your dog chicken?
Whole-meat chicken as the number one ingredient in dog food is one of the least common allergens to dogs. Recent studies have shown that as little as 15% of dogs have an allergic reaction to chicken[*].
A Complete Protein Source
Chicken is considered a complete protein. A complete protein contains all essential amino acids that promote good development in dogs.
But what are amino acids?
Amino acids are organic compounds that make up protein, which is an important part to every cell in your dog’s body.
After chicken is broken down in a dog’s digestive system, it is broken down into amino acids and is then absorbed by the intestines. The intestines then distribute these amino acid chains to help repair muscle and build bone, as well as support the major organs.
Chicken is also a very lean meat. For example, the average 8 oz of ground beef has between 600 and 700 calories, while the same amount of chicken has around 400 calories. If your dog needs to lose weight, this means that they can fill their belly without gaining excess pounds.
So can I feed my dog chicken every day?
As long as it’s cooked, the answer is yes. Because chicken is a safe, healthy and easily digestible form of protein, it is often the main source of protein in high quality dog food.
Avoid raw chicken due to the risk of salmonella, and make sure all bones are removed from the meat. Cooked chicken bones can cause blockages and other problems for dogs when ingested.
When selecting a dog food, all ingredients labeled as “meals” should be avoided. Chicken meal is a highly processed ingredient made from the leftover parts of a butchered chicken. Beaks, feathers, bones and undesirable (even diseased) meat scraps are all transported unrefrigerated to meat meal processing facilities, where they are processed into a powder and sold as a pet food ingredient (we do not use it).
How Much Chicken Should I Feed?
So how much chicken should I feed my dog per day? The right amount of chicken to give your dog depends on your dog's weight.
If you’re feeding fresh dog food, you should feed your dog between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of boiled chicken for every 20 lbs of body weight.
Although chicken is a great protein choice, you should make sure that their diet also has the appropriate amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber as well. Chicken alone will not be enough to meet these needs.
The Bottom Line
Feeding your dog chicken everyday may be a healthy way to reduce calories and deliver highly bioavailable and essential nutrients to your dog.
Cooking chicken breast yourself or avoiding cheap dog foods made with by-products may be a good start to prevent many health issues in dogs. Look for a dog food with chicken as the #1 ingredient. Here is a dog food with fresh chicken that we recommend.
As long as you prepare chicken properly, it is a safe and healthy option to feed your dog everyday.