So, you were scrolling through Instagram and saw people feeding their dogs chicken feet. You can’t decide whether it’s cool or disgusting.
I mean, just look at those claws sticking out!
But the dogs seem to love it, so maybe it’s a good idea?
Besides, it’s all-natural, so it can’t be that bad, right?
Or is it just another weird health fad, like green smoothies and juice cleanses?
Those things aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, so maybe the same goes for chicken feet?
Don’t worry, we had those questions too, so we went digging. Let’s shed some light on the matter, shall we?
Can Puppies Eat Chicken Feet?
To munch on those tasty chicken feet, your dog should be able to crunch through them. So, it’s best not to give them to puppies. Giving a young puppy chicken feet could lead to two complications: damaging those tiny little baby teeth or swallowing unchewed food.
Puppies lose their baby teeth around 4 months, after which they get those big adult teeth. Around 7 months, these should have grown sufficiently to give your pup his first chicken trotter. Before this point, giving him chicken feet puts him at risk of permanent damage to his teeth. That’s just not worth it.
What are Safe Alternatives To Chicken Feet?
So, your pup is too young for chicken feet, allergic to chicken, or you just can’t stand the sight of those feathered trotters. Now what? Luckily, there are some safe alternatives you can give your pup instead.
Dental chews are an excellent alternative to help your pup with dental hygiene. Unfortunately, they’re not all-natural. If that’s a big deal for you, check the rest of the list for more ideas. Or, you could chat with your vet. They’ll have plenty of options for your fur kid.
If your pup is allergic to chicken, but you still want the joint health benefits for your fur kid, opt for duck feet. These are packed with glucosamine and chondroitin, just like chicken feet. Furkids with food allergies usually do well with duck since it’s a novel protein. Unfortunately, these are usually much harder to find than chicken feet.
You read that right! These floppy bits are great for cleaning your fur kid’s teeth. They’re also super safe to eat since they’re mostly cartilage and skin. Unfortunately, these are much higher in fat, and they smell.
Can I Feed My Puppy Chicken Necks?
Chicken necks are pretty good for puppies. They have similar health benefits to chicken feet, and they’re apparently super tasty. Puppies don’t have super strong jaws, and their mouths are still small, so they probably won’t be able to bite chunks off the chicken neck. Bigger dogs will probably chomp straight through the chicken neck, creating chunks that pose a choking risk. So, if you have a puppy or small dog, go for raw or dehydrated chicken necks. If you have a large dog, instead opt for turkey necks, since they’re bigger and thus less of a choking hazard for large dogs.
Chicken necks are pretty high in fat, so it’s good to limit the amount you feed your teeny tiny fur kid. Fatty diets can cause diarrhea in young puppies and lead to obesity in the long run. Also, wait until your puppy is at least three months old before offering him a chicken neck. At this age, puppies are usually capable of chewing and swallowing safely, so if he somehow chomps off a large chunk, he’ll be fine.
Can I Feed My Puppy Chicken Bones?
Yes and no. Sorry, it’s a bit complicated. Firstly, ensure that the bones are uncooked since cooked chicken bones splinter, potentially causing severe injuries to your beloved fur kid. Then, wait until your fluff bundle is at least three months old. By this time, his teeth are strong enough to handle hard bones.
Now, get your puppy used to chewing things that are unlikely to splinter and pose choking hazards. Sticks work well for this. Once he’s used to this, give him some large chicken bones to chew on, like drumsticks. Be sure to remove all the pokey bits since they can end up in his intestines and cause severe damage. Monitor your pup to see how he handles it. You can offer him a bone a week if it goes well, depending on his size and overall health.
How Do I Serve Chicken Feet to My Puppy?
Chicken feet mainly consist of skin, cartilage, tendons, and tiny bones. They’re super healthy and perfectly safe for your fur kid when they’re prepared correctly.
You can serve chicken feet to puppies in many ways, mainly raw, since this allows the bone portion to crumble easily. Some companies offer puffed chicken feet, which is super safe for your fur kid and apparently quite tasty.
Raw chicken feet are pretty easy to come by. You can get these straight from the butcher shops or Asian markets or even off-cuts from your local farmer’s market. You can get them fresh or frozen, whichever is more convenient. When buying fresh ones, you can even freeze them at home.
Dehydrated chicken feet are processed a bit. These are cleaned, dried in a dehydrator, and packaged. While they tend to be more expensive than the raw variety, they have a long shelf life of six months. Your pup might insist on finishing them sooner, though. You can recognize dehydrated chicken feet by their yellow color and slightly shriveled appearance.
Air drying chicken feet helps retain the super cool vitamins and minerals that offer fantastic health benefits for your pup. These puffed chicken feet are similar to the dehydrated ones, but they retain more nutrients. That’s a win, right?
What are the Benefits of Chicken Feet for My Puppy?
Chicken feet served as a tasty treat for your fur kid has tons of benefits. Be sure to serve it raw, puffed, or dehydrated, not cooked. The benefits for your dog aren’t just health-related. Oh no. Your pet gets dental health benefits from it, and even the environment benefits from it. Can you say win-win?
Chicken feet contain tons of nutrients, protein, and vitamins that your pup needs to thrive. It’s also lower in calories than processed meat, so your pup can snack away without worrying about obesity and its problems.
These feathered trotters are also great for your pup’s dental hygiene. As your puppy chews through these crunchy, crumbly treats, they act as tiny brushes, cleaning debris from between the teeth and scraping off plaque and other dental build-ups. You can view them as digestible toothbrushes that are environmentally friendly since they’re entirely compostable. Nice, right? The downside here is that your pup’s breath could smell a bit afterward, but that’s a minor inconvenience when you think about it.
Improved joint health is another tremendous benefit your pup gets through chewing on chicken feet. It’s packed with glucosamine and chondroitin, essential ingredients in canine joint supplements. They’re the building blocks for your fur kid’s joint cartilage, helping prevent arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other types of joint pain. See it as a joint supplement packed with essential natural compounds.
How Many Chicken Feet Can I Feed My Puppy?
So, we’ve established that chicken feet are super tasty for dogs and oh so good. But, how much can you feed your fur kid guilt-free? Experts say that small dogs can have one chicken trotter per day, while large dogs can have two. They’re likely to crunch through it quite quickly, though. Like, around 15 minutes for a smaller dog, while a big St Bernard would likely chomp in up and one big gulp.
Remember that healthy treats also count as food for puppies and adult dogs alike. If you’re feeding your pup treats throughout the day, decrease his mealtime serving slightly to maintain his daily nutritional intake.
Chicken feet also contain quite a bit of fat, so if your pup suffers from pancreatitis or is at risk of being overweight, you might want to opt for a less fatty alternative.
Are Chicken Bones Dangerous for Puppies?
When chicken bones are cooked at high heat, they harden and become brittle, kind of like glass. In this state, they’re super dangerous to dogs and puppies. It’s likely to shatter or splinter when your fur kid bites down on a cooked chicken bone. Those splinters are really sharp and can cause severe damage to his mouth and digestive tract. So, instead, steer clear of cooked chicken bones.
Raw chicken bones, or bones prepared in any way that doesn’t involve high heat, are safe for your puppy if he’s old enough to eat it safely. Here, the bone hasn’t undergone the process that makes it brittle, so it crumbles easily when your pup bites down on it. Raw chicken bones are also completely digestible, so it’s a good snack for your fur kid.
When serving chicken feet to your puppy, keep in mind that the nails can be super sharp. So, if they’re not already trimmed, give them a snip before feeding it to your fur kid.
¹ Photo by Anna Hanks on Flickr