Can Dogs Eat Old Chicken?

Photo by Larry Hoffman on Flickr

No one likes wasting food or throwing it out once it’s getting old.

While it might seem easy to feed our dogs the waste, rotting meat isn’t always a great option to feed your furry friend. 

Due to a dog’s unique digestive system and their ability to quickly digest strange foods, like the bird they might have caught in the yard earlier in the week, you might think they can eat anything. 

In recent years, raw diets have become popular for just this reason—many pet owners believe that raw meat is safe for their dogs and easier for them to digest than some commercial dog foods.

 But are alternative food options really the best option? And can dogs eat meat that has been sitting or getting old? 

Is it true that dogs can eat rotten meat?

The simple answer? 

No, dogs cannot safely consume rotten meat. 

Although dogs don’t suffer from foodborne illnesses the same way that humans do, they can certainly get food poisoning from meat that’s no longer viable. 

Dog’s stomachs are high in acid, which means that they don’t get sick as easily as humans do. 

Their stomachs are able to more easily digest some bacteria, like that on raw meat. 

Their stomachs kill the bacteria faster because of the high levels of acid they have. 

They also have short digestive tracts, which mean they can eliminate food in a matter of hours, rather than days, as humans do. 

However, bacteria can live in even the worst environments and dogs can be susceptible to food poisoning through consumption of rotten meat. 

Some symptoms of food poisoning in dogs include vomiting, reduced appetite, and diarrhea. 

If you suspect that your dog has eaten rotten meat, it’s essential to get him to the vet immediately as dehydration can occur quickly.  

Can dogs eat old raw chicken?

Low in fat and high in protein, chicken is a favorite dog food protein. But can dogs eat raw chicken? 

And what about if it’s old? 

In the last few years, raw diets have gained popularity with pet owners as boutique pet food brands continue to advertise as little additives as possible. 

Humans like to give their dogs human-grade dog food, with raw, plant-based, whole foods, like grass fed chicken or beef and rice. 

However, raw chicken comes with consequences. 

While many people believe raw chicken provides more nutrients for dogs than dog foods, its actually the opposite—raw chicken can be filled with bacteria that can make your dog sick. 

Feeding a dog raw chicken puts them at risk for salmonella poisoning, E. Coli, and Campylobacter. 

All of these bacteria are serious threats to dogs when raw chicken is fresh, but the bacteria can multiply as the raw chicken sits, especially if it’s been sitting for a while or if it is not in a temperature-controlled area. 

Feeding old, rotting chicken to your dog is never a good idea. 

But how long does raw chicken take to rot? 

Can you give it to your dog in the meantime? 

How long does raw chicken take to go off if left at room temperature?

Preparing food can be a daunting task, so its no wonder that humans sometimes leave raw meat out without realizing it. 

Raw chicken, in particular, should never be left out more than two hours, or an hour in extreme heat. 

Food safety is always important, especially with raw chicken. 

Bacteria can multiply at a rapid pace at room temperature. 

If raw chicken has been sitting out for more than a few hours, it is no longer safe to give to your dog. 

Bacteria in chicken can be dangerous when it’s fresh, let alone when it’s rotten. 

If you suspect your chicken has gone bad, throw it in the trash—not in your dog’s bowl. 

How long does raw chicken take to go off if left in the fridge?

If left in the fridge, raw chicken can last a little longer than at room temperature. 

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), raw chicken can only last in the fridge for one to two days before it starts to go bad. 

If you don’t plan on consuming the meat during this time, it’s best to put it in the freezer for a later date. 

But what if raw chicken gets forgotten in the fridge? Is it safe to feed to dogs after it is cooked? 

Does cooking rotten raw chicken make it safe?

Many pet owners think that chicken is safer for their dogs cooked—and they’re not wrong. 

Veterinarians often recommend feeding whole protein like chicken or beef, with brown rice, when your dog is sick. 

Yet, rotten chicken doesn’t fit into this advice. 

The cooking process often kills bacteria that can’t thrive in extreme temperatures. 

If you make a boiled soup or stew, the chances of getting sick from rotten meat are less. 

However, cooking rotten chicken doesn’t mean that it is safe. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain bacteria can release toxins when cooked. 

Even when you kill the bacteria by cooking it, these toxins can make both you and your pet very sick. 

If you’re considering cooking rotten chicken for your dog, it might be better to toss it and pick up a fresh pack of poultry from the store, instead. 

Does freezing rotten raw chicken make it safe?

Freezing raw meats is a great way to make them last longer, but rotten raw chicken should never be frozen—it should be thrown away. 

However, if your chicken was fresh (within a few hours of opening) before it was put in the freezer, it is perfectly safe to defrost it in the fridge for a few hours and feed it to your dog.

Unlike humans, dogs aren’t affected by freezer burn and the texture of the chicken doesn’t bother them if it’s been in the freezer for a while—just be sure that the meat wasn’t rotting before it was frozen. 

Can dogs eat old cooked chicken?

Raw chicken has many different forms of bacteria—but what about cooked chicken? 

Cooking rotten raw chicken can be bad and can make you sick from the toxins that are released from the buildup of bacteria. 

However, if chicken is cooked fresh, it can sit in the fridge for up to three to four days, says the USDA. 

Leftovers should be eaten in this time frame to avoid additional bacteria growth. However, bacteria doesn’t grow as fast on cooked chicken when it is refrigerated. 

If chicken has been cooked fresh and is refrigerated less than four days, it can definitely be fed to your dog. 

However, after four days, spoilage bacteria like mold and yeast can grow, and this can cause a risk of foodborne illness, even in dogs. 

After its been in your fridge for a few days, it’s best to toss old cooked chicken instead of feeding it to your pet. 

How long does cooked chicken take to go off if left at room temperature?

Cooked chicken in the fridge can last a few days—but what if you leave cooked chicken out overnight? 

It’s easy to get busy and forget to put your leftovers away. 

Cooked chicken can only safely be left out about two hours before it needs to be refrigerated. 

If it’s left out any longer than this time period, dangerous bacteria might be clinging to your meat, and it’s time to throw it out. 

How long does cooked chicken take to go off if left in the fridge?

The USDA recommends eating cooked chicken within three to four days of putting it away in the fridge. 

After four days, leftover cooked chicken can start to grow spoilage bacteria like mold. 

Do chicken bones become rotten?

Yes, chicken bones can become rotten. Just like chicken meat, bad bacteria can cling to chicken bones, even if they’re cooked. 

Cooked chicken bones tend to be slightly softer than raw bones, though neither should really be digested by dogs. 

If your dog gets ahold of a chicken bone, don’t fret. 

Dogs have been eating bones for hundreds of years and it probably won’t harm him. 

However, be sure to watch out for any signs of coughing, retching, or gagging—this might mean that the bone is stuck in the esophagus and is choking your dog. 

If a bone gets stuck in your dog’s airway, this is an emergency and he needs to see a vet immediately. 

Chicken bones can also splinter easily and tear delicate areas of the GI tract, which is another vet call. 

It’s best not to feed your dog chicken bones to be safe. 

Fresh, cooked chicken breast is the best option for feeding chicken to your dog. 

What are the signs of food/ salmonella poisoning in dogs?

Salmonella or food poisoning is less common with dogs than with humans, but there are still some surefire signs to figure out whether your dog might have gotten ahold of some bad meat. 

If your dog might have gotten ahold of some questionable meat, look out for signs of vomiting, loose stool or diarrhea, lethargy, and unwillingness to eat. 

In severe cases, dogs might also have tremors, trouble breathing, or moving. In this case, it’s an emergency and time to visit the vet.  

Dogs that love to scavenge are most at risk and prone to food poisoning. 

If you can, watch your dog when he goes outside to make sure he doesn’t pick up dead, rotting animals, and never give your dog rotting meat if you can avoid it. 

What is the safest rotten meat to feed your dog?

While there’s not really any rotten meat that’s safe for your dog, chicken seems to be the worst culprit. 

It’s best not to feed your dog any type of rotten meat to avoid foodborne illnesses that can develop from bad bacteria like Salmonella, E. Coli, and Campylobacter. 

If you’re unsure how old meat is or you don’t know whether it’s safe to feed it to your dog, it’s bests to toss it and give your dog some fresh, cooked meat instead.  

Closing Thoughts

Most dog owners have gone through the experience of finding their dog in the trash can at some point or another, having no clue what their dog just consumed. 

It’s no secret that dogs are scavengers and if they smell something particularly interesting, chances are, they’re going to try to eat it. 

Though dogs love rank smells and sniffing funky odors, pet owners should never try to give their dogs rotten meat purposefully. 

Rotting meat can cause a slew of problems from vomiting and diarrhea to lethargy, tremors, and trouble breathing. 

While it might be tempting to feed your furry friend your leftovers or meat that has been sitting out too long, whether raw or cooked, it’s best to toss your meat in the trash instead of your dog’s bowl and make them something fresh instead.

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!