Whether your dog accidentally ate raw chicken or you are contemplating a raw meat diet, here’s what you need to know.
If your dog has eaten raw chicken and he is acting abnormally or suffering allergy-like symptoms, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.
My dog just ate raw chicken. Should I worry?
Probably not! In most cases, your dog will be just fine. The things to watch out for when a dog eats raw chicken is an upset stomach, allergic reaction, bacterial contamination, and bones.
Poultry is also one of the top culprits behind canine food allergies, according to Merck Veterinary Manual.
Whether or not your pup has adverse effects depends largely on the dog and how much chicken they ate. Many dogs will be fine, others may have a mildly upset stomach, and others may experience a more severe reaction. Certain dog breeds might be allergic to chicken and can develop this allergy at any stage of their lives.
Allergies to chicken can show up as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. It may also present as itchy skin or a rash.
Dogs may show up with vomiting and diarrhea after eating such a potent meal. These signs will usually go away within a day or two. Rarely, dogs may get a bacterial infection from eating raw chicken. This may show up as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain that lasts longer than 48 hours.
Besides an upset stomach or allergic reaction, you’ll also want to watch out for bones. Cooked bones are generally the bigger threat since cooking makes them brittle so that they can splinter into sharp fragments when a dog chews on it. The fragments can bruise or puncture the intestine as it passes through.
Raw bones are usually softer and more pliable, but can still cause a problem. Either way, monitor your dog closely for adverse signs like lethargy, abdominal pain, etc.
If your dog ate chicken bones, has vomiting or diarrhea that lasts longer than 48 hours or is suffering allergy-like symptoms, get him to the vet asap.
Why can dogs consume raw chicken and humans can't?
Because dogs have a far more capable digestive system than humans do. Their system is much more resistant to much of the bacteria that makes us sick.
Humans have 32 teeth, while dogs have 42, and are designed to crush dense objects. Their teeth are sharper, leaner, and more solid than human teeth.
A dog’s teeth is designed to tear and chew into tough surfaces. A dog’s jaws can only move up and down, giving it more crushing power. That’s the reason they can handle bones better than us. Our teeth are meant more for grinding than crushing.
Both dogs and humans have saliva that lubricates food and contains enzymes. The enzymes in a human's saliva initiates digestion, the one in a dog’s saliva kills off bacteria. That’s why your furry friend can better withstand eating raw meat than we can.
Much of the bacteria in food is killed off in their mouth before reaching an even more formidable bacteria killer in a dog’s stomach.
The esophagus also plays a role in a dog's ability to eat raw chicken without triggering off allergies. Its excellent gag reflex allows a dog to swallow larger food particles without much chewing, like bone fragments.
A dog's stomach contains more acid that is 10 times stronger in concentration than that of humans.
This strong concentration of acid makes it easier for a canine to digest larger food particles and bones and to kill pathogenic bacteria.
Food stays for about an hour in a human stomach before moving to the smaller intestine, although it can take longer for more complex foods.
Food stays a little longer in a dog’s stomach to give the hydrochloric acid and enzymes more time to digest the food. That helps to kill the bacteria as well.
Humans have longer intestinal tracts than dogs. This gives the body more time to absorb nutrients from food. Some complex foods like plants and grains requires more time to extract nutrients from.
A dog's intestine is much shorter. Because of that there is less time to absorb nutrients. So they do better on meats, bones and organs that are more quickly broken down than plants and grains that take more time. This shorter digestive transit time also leaves less room for spoilage of raw foods.
Can dogs eat raw chicken?
Yes, but with a few caveats.
Feeding dogs a raw diet is a hot and controversial topic.
For starters, chicken is a very important source of protein for both dogs and humans. The sheer number of dog-food brands using chicken as an ingredient underlines the importance of chicken as food for dogs.
However, vets caution against putting your dog on a raw chicken diet, due to some rare but adverse risks.
Salmonella and other bacterial infections can occur in dogs that consume raw chicken. People serving raw diets to their dogs are also more at risk.
The reason dogs can eat raw chicken is because their gut system has more acid and can kill off harmful bacteria quicker than humans.
However, this does not imply that every dog can handle eating raw chicken without experiencing some side effects.
In the majority of cases, dogs can eat raw chicken as long as you adhere to these rules.
- Take note of the purchase date and serve it to your dog early and fresh.
- For additional precautions, rinse the chicken with clean water before serving your dog.
- Remove any skin. Chicken skin is high in fats, which can be problematic for a dog. Too much fat can trigger tummy upsets in your dog.
- Introduce it to your dog gradually. Serve it along with his usual meal or on its own as a treat.
Study your dog closely for any allergy reactions. Only when you are convinced your pup is not allergic to chicken should you continue.
As we've alluded to previously, there is a risk of salmonella infection. Salmonellosis in dogs (and cats) isn’t a common occurrence.
But these pets also can be carriers. Which means that dogs can spread salmonella in their stool even if they aren’t showing any symptoms. From this stool, people and other pets can be infected. Kissing your dog, letting them lick your face, or not washing your hands after cleaning up poop can all cause problems.
Symptoms of salmonella infection in dogs
There are several symptoms of Salmonella infection resulting from ingesting raw or undercooked meat and eggs.
Below are the signs of salmonella infection in dogs:
- Increased heart rate
- Swollen lymph nodes
What are the scientific reasons for and against a raw meat diet?
Experts offer several reasons for and against the safety of a raw meat diet for dogs.
A raw meat diet is less processed, meaning that nutrients are more readily available and absorbed than in foods that are overly processed. There is very little filler, so dogs get more out of the food that they eat. This also means less waste.
With a raw diet, you are more in control of what your dog eats. There are no added colors, flavors, or preservatives. It’s also easier to omit ingredients that may be bothersome or cause allergies in your dog.
On the other side of that, there is the potential risk for infection from pathogenic bacteria. While dogs are more resistant to this type of issue, the people preparing the food can be at risk.
A relatively new issue with feeding raw diets is that raw chicken has been linked to Campylobacter infections. There is some speculation that this can also lead to a serious neurological disease known as Acute Polyradiculoneuritis which can result in paralysis in dogs. More research needs to be done to determine how problematic this may be.
Also of concern is whether or not a raw diet is complete and balanced. Dogs can’t survive on meat alone. They need carbohydrates, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals besides what meat can provide.
Before switching your dog to a raw diet, consult your veterinarian. They will help you determine what is best for your dog and safe ways to feed raw diets as well as commercial dog foods.
When To See Your Vet
If your dog eats raw chicken, chances are they are going to be fine. But if your dog displays any abnormal behavior after eating raw chicken, give your vet a call. That includes vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or not wanting to eat.
Mild signs should go away within a couple of days with little to no treatment. More serious cases may require fluids, antibiotics, and a bland diet to get over any upset stomach issues or infections. Bones may need to be removed surgically.
Dogs with weaker immune systems, puppies and older dogs are at a greater risk at developing issues.
Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Chicken Fried Rice?