Who doesn’t love a bit of cooked chicken skin? I know I do, but the problem is, so does my dog. Just the smell of it drives him crazy and results on those puppy dog eyes on me. But, is chicken skin safe for dogs, and should you let your pooch have it as a treat? I decided to find out with a little online research and chatting to my vet; here’s what I found.
Can dogs eat chicken skin? Dogs should not really eat chicken skin. It’s high in fat and calories and has almost no nutritional value. Chicken skin is bad for dogs, possibly leading to digestive upsets and diarrhoea, and potential weight gain and pancreatitis in the long term with regular feeding.
Sounds nasty doesn’t it, but I don’t wish to panic you.
If your dog eats a little roasted, cooked, fried, or raw chicken skin then the chances are he will be fine. You should look out for any unusual reactions over the next 24 hours though: a possible scenario could be sickness and diarrhoea.
I used to believe that a large dog could probably get away with eating a lot of cooked chicken skin without any adverse reaction, but it might be different for smaller dogs. The reason being; the high fat content of chicken skin.
However, after publishing this guide I called my vet, and she told me the following which completely changed my opinion:
“All dogs have small digestive tracts, even the larger breeds. This means just small amounts of rich and unsuitable foods can cause them problems including vomiting and diarrhoea. Chicken skin can be harmful to dogs, so I would avoid them eating it completely.”
An alternative and healthier snack option
If your dog loves the taste and smell of chicken (whose dog doesn’t!) then you might want to consider a healthier option then please take a look at the ones I found on Amazon. When browsing, look for organic and natural with no added salt, preservative, and preferably the breast part of the chicken.
Handy Hint: Are you ever tempted to let your dog eat Kentucky Fried Chicken? You might want to think again after reading this blog post about the calories!
Is chicken skin bad for dogs?
Generally speaking, chicken skin is bad for dogs because it’s a high fat part of the meat with almost zero nutrients in. It’s not going to make them healthy!
It can result in gastrointestinal problems and pancreatic inflammation disorder in dogs who are exposed to regular fatty food in their diet. This is a particular risk in older dogs or ones that have an existing weight issue.
But, a little fat every now and again is probably fine for most dogs, it’s just when it gets to be a regular occurrence that health issues can mount up.
I would also suggest that chicken skin can present a choking hazard if not cut up into smaller and more digestible pieces. If you do wish to let your dog feed on it, pleased also wipe away any grease or fat and make sure no bones are present.
Also consider the way in which cooked chicken skin is prepared. Often the skin will be seasoned with oils, salts, peppers, and even garlic seasoning. Garlic is toxic to dogs so should be completely avoided.
What happens if a dog eats chicken skin?
Some dogs will be fine, others won’t. You don’t know what reaction you’re going to get until your dog eats the chicken skin, so it’s not worth the risk.
However, in the worst-case scenario, here’s what “could” happen if your dog ate cooked chicken skin and had a bad reaction.
- Possible vomiting.
- Possible diarrhoea and watery stools.
In the longer term, it could lead to pancreatitis and weight gain if the skin becomes a regular part of their diet.
Handy Hint: Think twice before letting your dog eat chicken nuggets as the ingredients and calories could lead to an upset stomach.
What to do if my dog ate chicken skin?
If your dog eats anything that it shouldn’t, you should always consult with your vet first. If they think it’s serious, they will call you in but in most cases will ask you to monitor your dog over a 24-hour period.
It is unlikely that your dog will be seriously ill after consuming chicken skin, but you should always take the right precautions.
If your dog does vomit, vets will often recommend you start to feed them boiled chicken and rice for a few days to settle their stomach back down. Some dog owners recommend homemade chicken noodle soup, but again check with your vet.
Can dogs eat raw chicken skin?
Whilst there is a growing trend in the pet world for raw dog food diets, I don’t believe there’s been enough research yet to say whether raw meat is a safe option.
As for raw chicken skin, you only have to read the news to hear horror stories about how chicken is prepared for human consumption.
Personally, I would not feed my dog raw chicken skin. Many vet websites explain that raw chicken can be contaminated with salmonella or E. coli making it potentially very bad for dogs.
Is fried chicken skin bad for dogs?
And then we go to the completely opposite end of the spectrum with chicken skin that has been fried and cooked to the max.
I’ve already established that chicken skin is bad for dogs, and even more so if it’s been fried or battered. Fried food is terrible for dog’s stomachs, not to mention their overall health.
Consider it this way; fried food is bad for humans, so think how it could affect the smaller intestines and body of your little pup.
The calories in chicken skin
The bottom line is this; chicken skin is bad for dogs and can make them ill. But then there’s the calorie consideration as well…
Chicken meat with no seasoning and cooked plain is a great protein for a doggy diet. For example, one chicken breast with the skin removed is just 284 calories with 80% protein and 20% fat.
As soon as you add the skin, the calories and fats shoot up to unhealthy levels. If you were to cook that one chicken breast and kept the skin on it will add a massive 100 calories to the meal.
I decided to crunch some numbers to see how cooked, fried, or raw chicken skin impacts a dog’s recommended daily calorie intake.
To understand this better I took two of the most popular dog breeds; French Bulldogs and Labradors. I then found out how much an average adult in each breed weighs, and what their daily calories should be.
Here’s how it breaks down:
- Dogs should only eat 25 calories for each pound they weigh each day.
- The average Frenchie is 25 pounds and should eat no more than 625 calories daily.
- The average Labrador is 70 pounds and should eat no more than 1,750 calories daily.
Each dog is at the opposite side of the weight range, so should give you an idea on what your own dog’s daily calories should be… particularly when considering chicken skin.
If we consider that 85g of chicken skin is a reasonable amount that a dog could eat in one go, here’s how raw, roasted, and fried chicken skin stacks up in daily calories for both breeds.
- 85g of raw chicken skin (294 calories): 47% French Bulldog / 17% Labrador daily intake.
- 85g of roasted chicken skin (384 calories): 61% French Bulldog / 22% Labrador daily intake.
- 85g of fried chicken skin (420 calories): 67% French Bulldog / 24% Labrador daily intake.
For a small dog like a French Bulldog, a standard portion of chicken skin accounts for a large part of what they should be eating each day. Considering the nutritional value of chicken skin is almost zero, it’s not a great choice.
If you do decide to let them have some, please make sure it’s in moderation and part of a balanced diet.
I appreciate it’s tempting to let your dog eat food in the kitchen but think before you let them chew on anything that’s out of the bounds of a normal dog diet.
Whilst a little bit of chicken skin probably won’t harm your dog, you just don’t know what might happen, so me, it’s not worth the risk.
Disclaimer: I am not a vet and the advice in this guide is based on my personal opinion, common sense, and research I’ve done online. I also spoke to my own vet. Always talk to your dog’s vet before letting them eat anything unusual.
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