Chicken is a staple of Western cuisine and many people wonder whether their dogs can eat chicken breast every day.
It is after all a lean meat, rich in protein, affordable and easily available, so it sounds like a very good idea.
The short answer is yes, dogs can safely eat chicken breast, but maybe not just every day. It’s not just that it’s boring, though it is, but it might not be such a great idea from a nutritional point of view.
In this article we’ll be looking at the nutritional values of chicken breast, see how it compares with other types of meat and how you should serve it to your pet.
What is the nutrition in chicken breasts?
Chicken breast is a great source of protein for a dog and it provides essential amino acids, which help maintain and support healthy muscles.
Skinned chicken breast is 80% protein and only 20% fat. A regular 135 grams serving provides 238 calories.
Chicken breast is an excellent source of minerals and even some vitamins.
For instance, one regular serving of chicken breast provides 74% of the average adult’s daily selenium needs, and 44% of the phosphorus.
As most dogs are smaller than an adult person this means they’ll get all the selenium and phosphorus they need, and this is good for their metabolism, their bones and for the immune system.
Chicken breast is low on calcium, just 1%, and iron is just 3%, so definitely not enough to meet a dog’s needs.
On the plus side, chicken breast is quite rich in vitamins B3 (niacin) and B6, with 85% and 89% of an adult human’s daily needs.
B vitamins are essential for good cellular health and for protecting the skin barrier.
At the same time, this type of meat provides a healthy dose of Omega 6 fatty acids, which supply your dog with energy, help him absorb vital nutrients and vitamins, and fight inflammation in the body. Oh, and they do give a nice shine to the dog’s coat.
If you have a senior dog, chicken breast provides a decent amount of glucosamine, which fights arthritis and promotes strong bones.
Can dogs eat raw chicken breasts?
Most experts warn against feeding your dog raw chicken breast, or any type of raw meat for that matter. Raw meat might be infected with Salmonella or other types of bacteria, so it might make you sick.
On the other hand, proponents of the raw diet for dogs say that there’s no risk if you have a reliable source of fresh meat, so it’s basically up to you.
Chicken breast vs chicken thighs
Many pet owners wonder whether chicken thighs are healthy for dogs. They are, after all, more affordable than chicken breast and since they come from the same animal there shouldn’t be very different.
Chicken thighs are indeed safe to eat, but they have a lower protein content. While they provide the same amount of calories, chicken thighs are only 66% protein, and the rest is fat. If your dog has a problem with cholesterol you might want to avoid that. Chicken thighs are also lower in most minerals and vitamins, with the notable exception of iron, 9% of the average adult’s daily needs.
However, if you’re thinking about slipping your dog a nice juicy chicken thigh from the family dinner, you will want to get rid of the bones. Chicken bones are not safe for dogs, either raw or cooked. Cooking makes chicken bones brittle, so they can easily splinter. Bone splinters are a major choking hazard and if they make it to the stomach, there’s the risk of puncturing the stomach lining which may lead to a very nasty infection.
Chicken vs beef vs pork: what nutrients do chicken breasts not have?
Beef is also very affordable and most dog foods contain this type of meat. How does it compare to chicken? Well, chicken breast has more protein than beef (66%), although they provide roughly the same number of calories. Beef stands out as it provides more iron (12%) and covers 93% of an adult’s vitamin B12 daily needs. B12 supports normal brain function so it is essential for an elderly dog struggling with cognitive decline.
Pork is also widely available and has more calories than chicken breast, 297 calories for a 113 g serving, so it will fill your dog’s belly better. Unfortunately, it is only 39% protein and the rest is fat. On the other hand, pork is very high in vitamin B1 (thiamine) which is essential for the good functioning of organs that require a lot of energy, such as the brain.
How much chicken breast should I feed my dog?
That depends on the size of your dog. According to experts, a dog should eat between ¼ and ⅓ cup of meat protein for every 20 lbs of body weight.
Are boiled chicken breasts good for my dog?
Boiled chicken breasts are probably the healthiest option for your dog. The taste might be a bit bland for humans, but it’s just great to a dog.
As a matter of fact, boiled chicken breast (skinned and deboned) is the go-to remedy for a dog with an upset stomach as it is very easy to digest. If your dog has diarrhea, give him some boiled chicken breast with a bit of boiled rice for a couple of days and it will solve the problem.
Grilled chicken is also good, but you should avoid feeding your dog fried chicken on a regular basis as he doesn’t need that much fat in his diet.
Can dogs eat canned chicken breast?
A dog can eat canned chicken breast, but only on occasion. If you don’t have anything else available or if your dog is simply begging you for a bite of your canned chicken breast he can have some. It won’t do any harm every once in a while, but definitely on a regular basis. Just check out the label on your canned meat and you’ll see why. Most canned foods have a high-salt content, which is not good for your pet. And there’s also the danger that the product might contain seasonings he’s not allowed, such as onions or garlic.
Can dogs eat frozen chicken breasts?
Freezing chicken breasts is a good way of killing almost all of the bacteria the meat might be contaminated with. Also, serving your dog frozen foods is the ultimate in convenience as you don’t have to cook and there’s no cleaning up required.
However, frozen food is not exactly easy on the dog’s stomach as all the thawing required puts a strain on the digestive system. At the same time, pieces of frozen meat are a serious choking hazard if the dog doesn’t bother to chew. On the other hand, if he does try to chew on the frozen meat he might break a bone, which would cause him a lot of misery and will cost you quite a bit in dentist’s fees.
If you want, you can freeze raw chicken breasts to destroy the bacteria in it, but let it on the counter to thaw for 4-5 hours before feeding it to your dog.
Can dogs eat chicken breast every day?
Technically, yes, a dog can eat chicken breast every day, but this might lead to certain nutritional deficiencies. Some people wonder whether a dog can live on chicken meat alone. Maybe he can, but he won’t be a very healthy dog.
Dogs need a balanced diet and chicken breast doesn’t provide that. No animal can live on one type of food alone, no matter what that food might be.
For instance, chicken breast has no fiber at all, which is definitely not good for his digestive system. Lack of fiber in the dog’s diet can lead to severe constipation. A healthy dog’s diet should contain around 10% fiber. The best fiber sources for dogs include broccoli, leafy greens, pumpkin, green beans, carrots, apples or berries. If you’re boiling some chicken breast for your dog, throw in a couple of carrots and some green beans and he’ll have a more balanced meal. Plus, the sweet taste of meat will make your dog ignore the veggies in his bowl.
If you want your dog to be strong and healthy, you should feed him various types of meat – one day he can have chicken, the next one a bit of beef, or maybe some salmon, etc.
Chicken breast is a very healthy type of meat for a dog, but that doesn’t mean you should feed him just that day in, day out. Dogs need variation in their food and not only because it’s more fun. When your dog eats the same type of food every day, he’s bound to develop some nutritional deficiencies which will eventually make him ill, even though you think he’s getting prime meat every day. If your dog happens to be a very picky eater you can give him chicken breast every day, but make sure to mix it with some veggies or even some kibble to make sure he gets all the important nutrients.