What part of chicken is not good for dogs?

Quick Answers

There are certain parts of chicken that should be avoided when feeding chicken to dogs. The main parts to avoid are:

  • Chicken bones
  • Chicken skin
  • Fatty pieces
  • Spicy seasoned chicken

Chicken bones can splinter and cause harm to a dog’s digestive tract. Chicken skin is high in fat and can lead to pancreatitis. Fatty pieces are difficult to digest. Seasonings like onion and garlic are toxic for dogs.

Why Chicken Can Be a Healthy Protein Source

Chicken is one of the most popular protein sources for dogs. It is an excellent source of lean protein that contains essential amino acids dogs need. When prepared properly without dangerous extras, chicken can be a nutritious addition to a balanced dog diet.

Some of the benefits of chicken for dogs include:

  • High in protein – Supports strong muscles and tissues
  • Good source of vitamins and minerals – Such as iron, selenium, zinc, vitamins A, E, K, and B vitamins
  • Contains glucosamine – Helps maintain healthy joints
  • Easily digestible – When cooked, it is gentle on the stomach
  • Versatile ingredient – Can be served cooked or raw
  • Relatively inexpensive – Budget-friendly protein option

Chicken is a lean meat that typically contains less fat than other meats like beef or pork. Many commercial dog foods use chicken as a key ingredient because it provides quality nutrition in an appetizing protein source.

Parts of Chicken to Avoid for Dogs

While chicken can be a healthy meats for dogs, there are certain parts of chicken that should be avoided. Here are the top parts to skip when preparing chicken for your dog:

Chicken Bones

Never feed your dog cooked chicken bones. Cooked bones tend to splinter easily and can cause internal injury or even death.

Small shards of bone can puncture the stomach, intestines, throat, or rectum. Splinters may also get stuck in the teeth. At minimum, bones can cause constipation, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Cooked bones also become brittle, increasing the risk of splintering and sharp edges. This applies to all bones, including chicken bones.

Raw bones are usually safer since they do not splinter as easily. But raw chicken bones may still present a choking hazard for some dogs. Supervise your dog when feeding any bones.

Chicken Skin

A dog should not eat chicken skin because it is high in fat. The skin contains a large amount of saturated fat. Too much fat can lead to obesity or pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is a serious health condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed. It is often triggered by a high-fat meal. Chicken skin is covered in concentrated fat and is difficult for dogs to digest.

Obesity is another risk of too much fat. Obese dogs have a higher chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, and other complications.

To keep your dog healthy, remove the fatty skin before cooking. And do not give chicken wings or legs with the skin on.

Fatty Pieces

Any fatty pieces of chicken should not be fed. This includes chicken skin, visible fat deposits, chicken wings, and chicken legs or thighs.

High-fat meats place extra strain on your dog’s digestive system. Dogs are not well-equipped to process large amounts of fat in one sitting. This can lead to vomiting or diarrhea.

Excessive fat consumption is also linked to pancreatitis and obesity in dogs. Stick to lean cuts of chicken breast instead of fatty pieces.

Seasoned Chicken

Avoid feeding your dog chicken that is heavily seasoned. Seasonings like garlic, onion, chives, salt and pepper can be toxic for dogs.

Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulfate which is poisonous to dogs. Garlic also contains thiosulfates, just in lower amounts. They can cause gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea and damage red blood cells.

Salt can lead to excessive thirst and urination. High sodium levels may cause electrolyte imbalances. Make sure cooked chicken does not have added salt.

Other seasonings like chives, paprika and pepper may irritate a dog’s stomach. Stick to plain, unseasoned chicken.

Undercooked Chicken

Raw or undercooked chicken poses a health risk for dogs. Chicken may contain Salmonella or other bacteria that can make your dog sick.

Be sure to cook chicken thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F. It should not show any signs of pink or red when cut into. The juices should run clear with no traces of blood.

Feeding raw chicken is not recommended either. The bacteria on the surface of raw chicken can easily spread around your kitchen. Stick to cooked chicken only to avoid any foodborne illnesses.

Recommended Parts of Chicken for Dogs

The healthiest parts of chicken for dogs are lean, protein-rich pieces. Here are the best options:

Chicken Breast

Skinless chicken breast is a great choice. It is low in fat and high in protein. Chicken breast is also simple to cook plain with no seasonings.

White meat chicken breast is often one of the main ingredients in commercial dog foods. It provides complete protein with all essential amino acids a dog’s body needs.

This lean cut can be boiled, baked, or shredded to add to food. Make sure it is cooked through until no longer pink inside.

Chicken Livers

Chicken livers provide a concentrated source of nutrients for dogs. Liver contains vitamin A, B vitamins, iron and copper.

Since they are an organ meat, chicken livers have more minerals than chicken breast or thigh. They also contain more protein per ounce than regular cuts of chicken.

Livers should be fed cooked, not raw. Cook them plain with no seasonings or sauce. Feed livers in moderation, about once a week at most.

Ground Chicken

Ground chicken can be a good option for dogs. Choose lean ground chicken with no skin or fatty chunks mixed in.

Ground meat is an easy way to add protein to your dog’s diet. Mix some in with their regular food or use it to make homemade dog food recipes.

Be sure to cook ground chicken thoroughly until no pink remains inside. Cook to an internal temperature of 165°F.

Tips for Preparing Chicken Safely

When preparing chicken, keep these tips in mind for your dog’s safety:

  • Remove all skin, fat and bones
  • Avoid seasonings like onion, garlic, salt, pepper
  • Cook thoroughly to 165°F internal temperature
  • Cut chicken into bite-size pieces
  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly

Smaller pieces are safer and easier for a dog to chew and digest. Cooked chicken can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.

To prevent choking, hold larger chunks of chicken firmly in place for your dog to chew off pieces. Or shred, chop, or puree chicken to a texture they can safely swallow.

Never reheat chicken more than once. Reheating allows bacteria to grow. Feed freshly cooked chicken only.

How Much Chicken to Feed Dogs

Chicken can make up a significant portion of your dog’s protein intake. But the exact amount to feed depends on your dog’s size, age, and activity level.

As a general guideline, the daily quantity of chicken to feed your dog is:

Dog Weight Chicken Portion
5 lbs 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup
15 lbs 1⁄4 to 1 cup
30 lbs 1 to 2 cups
50 lbs 1 1⁄2 to 3 cups

Puppies need around 2 to 3 times more protein for growth. Senior dogs require less protein as they become less active.

When changing your dog’s diet, introduce new foods gradually over 4-7 days. Observe for any digestive upset.

For balanced daily nutrition, chicken should be combined with other food groups. Pair chicken with dog-friendly veggies, whole grains, and small amounts of healthy fats.

Signs of an Allergy or Intolerance

Some dogs may have an allergy or intolerance to chicken protein. Signs of an adverse reaction include:

  • Itchy skin or ear infections
  • Hot spots or hair loss
  • Excessive scratching or licking
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea

If you suspect your dog has a chicken allergy, remove it from the diet for 2-3 weeks. Then reintroduce a small amount of chicken and monitor their reaction.

Chicken allergies are not extremely common in dogs. But skin issues, digestive upset, or behavior changes may indicate your dog is sensitive to chicken.

Alternative Protein Sources

If your dog cannot tolerate chicken, there are many other single-protein options. Some alternatives are:

  • Lean beef or bison
  • Lamb
  • Turkey or duck
  • Whitefish like cod or tilapia
  • Cottage cheese or eggs
  • Beans or legumes (in moderation)

Rotate novel protein sources every few weeks to provide a varied diet. Look for meat that is free of hormones, antibiotics, and stabilizing agents.

Talk to your veterinarian about clinically-tested hydrolyzed protein diets for dogs with severe food allergies.


Chicken can be a healthy part of your dog’s balanced diet. Lean proteins like skinless breast, liver or ground chicken provide amino acids and nutrients dogs need.

Avoid feeding dogs raw chicken, bones, skin, fatty pieces or seasoned meat to prevent choking hazards, pancreatitis and other issues. Cook chicken thoroughly and cut into bitesized portions.

Consult your veterinarian about appropriate portion sizes and new proteins to try if your dog cannot tolerate chicken. With some safety precautions, chicken can be a tasty and nutritious diet addition for your dog.

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