Can Dogs Eat Chicken Legs?

Should your dog eat chicken legs? ¹

This and many other similar questions of what dogs can and cannot eat trouble many pet parents.

The confusion is mostly centered around chicken legs, feet, wings, necks and chicken bones in general. 

Since chicken is a very popular meat, with about 9 billion chickens killed for their flesh every year in the US alone.

Naturally, there will be plenty of chicken legs, meat and bones for our pets to feast on.

Well, to clear up any confusion, dogs can eat chicken legs, now that’s the good news.

But the bad news is that it depends on how the chicken legs were prepared. 

Can dogs eat chicken skin?

Cooked lean meat is great for dogs, especially skinless chicken and turkey meat.

But chicken skin is not good for dogs to eat because of the high fat content in chicken skin.

When dogs eat chicken skin, the high fat content can trigger a painful bout of gastrointestinal distress or pancreatitis.

And even if your dog doesn’t have a negative reaction to eating chicken skin, too much fat in their diet will leave them susceptible to obesity. 

Animal fats or the fatty parts of meat are never good for dogs, the best meat for dogs is lean meat which is easily digestible.

Never give your dog the skin from chicken, turkey or the fatty parts of meat. Lean meat that is properly cooked, with no seasoning and the bones removed, are the best type of meat for dogs. 

Should dogs eat chicken leg meat?

Yes, dogs can eat chicken leg meat.

Skinless, boneless chicken leg meat is great for dogs, especially the thighs.

However, the meat should be properly cooked to avoid possible infection.

Chicken feet are also great for dogs because they contain glucosamine, which has great benefits for your dog’s joints.

Chicken meat should be thoroughly cooked and deboned before giving it to your dog. 

You can give your dog raw chicken bones to chew on, but be mindful of the risks associated with that and make sure that you supervise them while they chew on it.

Since chicken feet and bones are small, they should not be given to big dogs, only small dog breeds (not puppies with milk teeth) should be given chicken feet or bones, and they should be supervised the whole time they chew.  

How does chicken leg meat compare to chicken breast meat or turkey leg meat?

There is some difference between chicken leg meat and chicken breast, but the nutritional difference between these different parts of chicken is minimal.

First, chicken breast is white meat and has a lower fat content, while chicken legs are classified as dark meat and are fattier than chicken breasts. 

Although they differ in fat and calorie content, both chicken legs and breasts have approximately the same amount of iron, sodium, and good cholesterol.

When placed side by side, a 3-ounce skinless chicken breast has about 140 calories, 3 grams of fat, while a 3-ounce skinless chicken thigh has about 164 calories and 9 grams of fat. 

And the same 3-ounce of skinless turkey thigh contains about 155 calories and 6 grams of fat. So, the clear winner for your dogs here is the meat with fewer calories and less fat, which is obviously the skinless chicken breasts.

Can dogs eat chicken leg bones?

Well, there is no simple answer to this question. Actually, the answer is yes and no. Dogs can or cannot eat chicken leg bones. First off, cooked chicken bones should never be given to bone no matter the condition because these bones pose real risks to your dog’s health. 

Cooked bones become brittle and splinter into smaller jagged pieces when chewed on. And each small piece can get lodged in your dog’s throat and cause a painful tear or block a part of their gastrointestinal tract. The only acceptable way to feed dog chicken leg bones is if the bones are raw. Dogs can eat raw chicken leg bones, but there is also a caveat here. 

Chicken is a small animal and chicken bones are naturally small too, therefore giving a large dog, who loves to gulp things down, a chicken bone can be very risky if they swallow the bone whole without properly chewing it first. 

This can cause an obstruction along the digestive tract. You should be very careful with giving dogs chicken bones. Only adult small dog breeds (or dogs that take their time to properly chew their food) should be given chicken bone, and they should be well-supervised with the bone. 

What is the best way to use cooked chicken leg bones with your dog?

There is no best way to use cooked chicken leg bones with your dog because dogs should not eat cooked chicken leg bones. Never give your dog cooked chicken leg bones. 

Can dogs eat raw chicken legs?

Yes, dogs can eat raw chicken legs. Raw chicken legs, especially chicken feet, are rich in glucosamine and chondroitin. Chewing on chicken feet can help your dog maintain healthy joints, and reduce joint pain caused by inflammation, age or arthritis. If you intend to give your dog raw chicken feet or meaty chicken legs, make sure that you supervise them while they chew. 

Chicken bones are smaller and less dense than beef bones, so it’s much easier for dogs to chew and digest chicken bones. Some dogs may want to swallow large pieces of bones, which can be a problem. If you give your dog chicken bones, encourage them to chew it before they swallow and watch them do it. 

Chicken and turkey bones are much lighter than beef bones, they are also easy for dogs to chew and digest. In addition to chicken legs and feet, chicken neck, wings and thighbones are also great for dogs. 

Pros

  • High in protein and easily digestible
  • Great for teeth-cleaning
  • Rich in vitamins and nutrients
  • Excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Great for bone and joint health

Cons

  • Possible bacteria contamination
  • Possible choking hazard  and injuries (which is why dogs should be supervised)

Can dogs eat frozen chicken legs?

Dogs can eat frozen chicken legs, but there are still very important considerations. First, freezing chicken doesn’t kill the harmful bacteria contaminants, in case that’s what you’re thinking. Second, freeze-drying is a more reliable way of killing bacteria while maintaining the freshness and natural flavors of nutrients of chicken legs. 

It’s vital to know that feeding your dog chicken bones can be dangerous, depending on how the bones are prepared. Chicken bones that have been cooked, boiled, or fried should be avoided. The high temperatures associated with cooking bones makes them dry and brittle and prone to splintering and shattering, resulting in serious injury. 

A good alternative to raw and cooked chicken bones is freeze-dried or dehydrated chicken feet. For instance, puffed chicken feet that were dried in a dehydrator to seal in the flavor and minerals are great for dogs. 

Pros 

  • High in protein and easily digestible
  • Helps to improve dental hygiene
  • Improves joint health
  • Rich in vitamins and nutrients
  • High in glucosamine and chondroitin

Cons

  • Possible bacteria contamination (frozen meat still contain bacteria which become active once the meat thaws)

Can dogs eat fried chicken legs?

Fried chicken is not healthy for dogs, and you should never give your dog any fried chicken, even when they’re begging for it. Fried foods are generally bad for dogs. A dog’s diet needs to contain very little oil and greasy stuff, because of the possibility of pancreatitis. Greasy fried chicken can trigger a painful episode of pancreatitis, especially if your dog is prone to this condition. 

Just like chicken skin, fried chicken is very fatty and an unhealthy food for any dog at all. If you enjoy KFC very often, and would love to share some of it with your dog, please don’t do it. For the sake of your dog’s health, you have to definitely keep that away from them. 

Besides the fact that KFC is obviously fried chicken, the recipe (with the secret list of 11 spices and herbs, including garlic salt, ginger, celery salt, oregano, etc.) contains many ingredients that are not good for dogs.   

Are chicken legs more dangerous to dogs than chicken wings?

No, chicken legs are not more dangerous to dogs than chicken wings. Chicken bones (be it legs, wings or neck) by themselves are not harmful to dogs. The problem arises when your dog doesn’t chew them properly or swallows them whole. 

As canines, dogs are equipped with the right set of teeth for chewing bones, and are able to chew chicken bones. But, they need to be closely watched because impatient or greedy dogs tend to gulp down their food, even bones, and that’s what can cause problems for them. 

[10] What are the symptoms of a bone getting stuck?

If your dog has a bone stuck in their teeth, gum or throat, the symptoms you may notice will be your dog pawing, scratching or constantly licking parts of their mouth, or gagging or retching if the bone is stuck in their throat. 

You may also notice restlessness, persistent gulping, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, drooling or regurgitation. The symptoms you observe will depend on where the bone is stuck and the severity of the problem. 

What should you do if part of a chicken leg gets stuck?

If you notice your dog behaving strangely after you gave them a bone, you should contact your vet ASAP. Your veterinarian will determine exactly where the bone is stuck and remove it. If the bone is not deeply lodged in the throat, your vet may be able to remove it without surgery. But if the bone is stuck in the throat or deep in the esophagus, then surgery may be required to get it out.

Conclusion

Dogs can eat chicken legs, they are healthy, very nutritious, and a rich source of proteins.

However, chicken leg meat should be properly cooked with minimal seasoning and deboned before serving your dog.

Also, chicken feet and bones are good for dogs, but only when they are raw or freeze-dried. Never give your dog cooked bones to avoid a painful accident.

Small chunks of boiled skinless boneless chicken thigh in your dog’s food adds the perfect dose of proteins to your doggies diet. 

Photo credits

Photo by Amy Ross on Flickr