It’s crunchy when fried, delectable when roasted, and packs tons of flavor when done correctly. Who could resist the temptation of bingeing on chicken skin? Probably not you, and so as your dog. But should you give in to those puppy eyes and let your dog take a bite?
Not too fast! Chicken skin might be the last thing you want to give your pup. We’ve researched and listed things you should know about chicken skins and why you should not add them to your dog’s daily diet.
Dogs can occasionally enjoy cooked chicken skin (boiled or fried) for treats and happy rewards. But it should not be a daily diet inclusion due to its high-fat content, which can lead to digestive complications, weight gain, and other illnesses.
Is Chicken Skin Good or Bad for my Dog?
The answer, “it depends,” is a cliche thing nowadays, but it is accurately the correct answer to the question above. Chicken skin can be harmful to dogs depending on how, and how much is incorporated into their diets. Nothing will likely happen to your dog if you give him a well-cooked piece (or pieces) of chicken skin every once in a while. A small bite on special occasions wouldn’t hurt, but small bites every day in the long term can bring some health complications.
What’s Inside the Unhealthily Delicious Chicken Skin?
Chicken skin contains high-fat content but has little nutritional value and is more difficult to digest. Excessive consumption of chicken skin can cause weight gain, pancreatic inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, and other health risks.
The total daily intake recommended for a 30-pound adult dog is about 14 grams. According to USDA National Nutrient Database, there is 44g of total lipid (fat) in every 100g of raw chicken skin. It’s almost half fat, half water with a little bit of protein and ash.
Other cuts of poultry like breast and thigh will be a healthier option if you want to incorporate more protein into your dog’s diet. Raw chicken skin is generally not recommended even for dogs under a raw diet plan due to other factors, which will be discussed in-depth below.
Can chicken skin make my dog sick?
Chicken skin can make your dog sick if handled or cooked improperly. Additionally, food with high-fat content can cause stomach upsets and adverse reactions. Vomiting and diarrhea are some of the worst reactions that can appear 24 hours after your dog consumes chicken skin.
When not appropriately sliced into bite-sized pieces, chicken skin can pose a choking hazard due to dogs’ tendency to immediately swallow up food they like. And just like fat, excess oil from frying or roasting can cause stomach upsets.
Another thing to look out for is your dog’s pre-existing health conditions, such as allergies. Chicken allergies in dogs are surprisingly common and can cause skin itchiness and irritability. In this case, even small amounts of chicken skin can be dangerous to your dog.
Lastly, and most importantly, seasoned chicken skins with garlic bits should be completely avoided at all costs. Garlic is a highly toxic substance for dogs (and even cats) due to thiosulphates and disulfide compounds which can damage red blood cells.
Is it safe to feed raw chicken skin to dogs?
No sufficient studies show the benefits of feeding raw chicken skin to dogs, even those in a raw feeding program. But raw chicken skins have a higher fat content than cooked ones.
Raw chicken skin can also become contaminated with salmonella or E.coli, which often causes abdominal pain, nausea, fever, diarrhea, and consecutively, fluid loss. According to the SVA National Veterinary Institute, salmonella may persist for about 3-6 weeks or longer after the initial infection.
Most raw feeding communities would advise removing chicken skins during the transition to avoid adverse effects. This is especially recommended when the dog is getting sick or is having a hard time during a meal transition. Raw chicken skin might likely exacerbate problems for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Some dogs require a low-fat diet after getting diagnosed with certain medical conditions by vets. Giving chicken skin would be counterproductive and can bring more harm to your pup. Take note that low-fat or high-fat diet programs are recommended by vets and should not be self-diagnosed.
Skins from turkey, ducks, geese and other poultry products are not recommended for canine feeding for the same reason.
Can I feed fried chicken skin to my dog?
While frying can reduce the possibility of contracting salmonella or E.coli, the frying oil gives extra fat, which only exacerbates the harmful effects of chicken skin on your dog’s health. Added spices and salt can also cause stomach distress.
Wheat flour used in the chicken skin batter is not helping the case either. Wheat doesn’t contain significant nutrients relevant to your dog’s health, and wheat allergies are also prevalent in dogs with grain intolerance.
In general, fried food is considered toxic to dogs because of the threat of pancreas inflammation and intestinal damage. Consumer Reports listed fried food as 3rd most toxic food for dogs.
How about boiled chicken skin?
Boiled chicken is a bit of a gray area. First, you don’t have to add residual oil and spices to your dog’s food. Second, boiling cooks the meat all around, significantly reducing the chances of contamination of salmonella or E.coli. And lastly, your dog will still love the taste even if there are no added flavorings.
Unfortunately, even boiled chicken skin is not suitable for dog consumption. It contains more fat than the recommended daily intake, which makes it dangerous for various reasons.
The bottom line is: that chicken skin is safe to feed in small amounts only, and only if your dog is not diagnosed or has any record of allergic reactions to chicken. No “take twos,” and no other excuses: it’s better to be safe than sorry.
What to do if my dog ate chicken skin?
Whether by accident or deliberate feeding, you should pay attention to your dog’s behavior after eating chicken skin. Monitor your dog’s appetite for significant changes within 24 hours after consuming the chicken skin. Mild symptoms might include watery stools and vomiting.
These are usually symptoms that your dog’s sensitive stomach cannot handle the amount of lipid intake from the chicken skin. Your best bet is to start a temporary diet consisting of boiled chicken and rice to help your dog’s digestive tract return to its normal rhythm.
Another symptom that might manifest is itchiness and red patches in the skin on the paws, abdomen, groin, face, and ears. These signs usually indicate allergic reactions.
Contact your vet immediately if the symptoms start to escalate and worsen rapidly. However, prevention is still better than cure. There are other options for healthy and tasty dog treats that you can use to reward your beloved pup. Just avoid feeding a staggering amount of chicken skin to your dog.
Other alternative dog snacks to consider?
Some of the healthiest dog treats are veggies and fruits. These alternative snacks are tasty, enjoyable to eat and pack nutritional values that chicken skins can’t beat. Here are some human treats that are safe (and enjoyable) for your dogs.
Cooked Chicken (Lean Meat)
The meat part of the chicken (not skin) is composed of lean meat, a great source of protein and other nutrients that will help your dog stay healthy. Cooked chicken (often boiled) is commonly used for dog training and is an excellent alternative if your dog is bored of conventional treats.
Cooked Fish Products
Fish products (especially salmon) are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid which aids in making your pet’s coat and skin regeneration. These fats are not like those in chicken skins. Other meats such as cooked chicken and beef are also recommended but avoid including fatty variants.
Fruits and Veggies
The good old veggie and fruit adage for healthy living also applies to your dog’s diet (as long as they’ll have the acquired taste to eat these as snacks). Some of the best dog-friendly fruits and veggies are apples, bananas, watermelon, carrots, cooked pumpkin, cooked sweet potato, green beans, and broccoli.
Take note that these suggestions are only applicable for treats and occasional snacking, which should only make up to 10% or less of your dog’s daily diet.
Chicken skin is not an ideal food to add to a dog’s diet. Long-term and short-term risks are not worth taking for a quick, happy snack time with your pet. Even if you meet with the cutest puppy eyes, resist!
One small bite is okay if your dog doesn’t consume his daily recommended intake of calories yet. Feed your pooch chicken skins in moderation to avoid unnecessary health complications.