Any responsible pet owner should make sure to look at the ingredients on their pet’s diet at least once, although it may not be more than that if you happen to find a bag of kibble that will keep your dog happy over and over again. If you’ve ever checked what your dog is eating, there is a better-than-average chance you’ll have noticed the word ‘chicken’ on the bag somewhere. If you haven’t, try looking early on in the ingredients list, or find a bag not specially marked as not having chicken in it.
A competitive pet owner might have indulged in buying more than one kind of feed for their pet. Many show dogs are fed regular kibble for routine days and a special kind of treat known as a bowl topper or show bite when they are out in the ring. These specialized kibbles are, more often than not, also composed of chicken. In fact, some manufacturers will be quite careful to mark on the bag that their bowl toppers contain nothing but the very best chicken breast meat, so well prepared that you could eat it yourself instead of giving it to the dog.
Even if you yourself aren’t quite so meticulous about checking what’s in your dog’s kibble, there’s a good chance that you have seen them going after chicken – or any meat for that matter – with enough gusto that the dog probably needs to be told not to eat your dinner as well as his own. Even logically, it doesn’t sound particularly unusual that dogs might attack chicken – the dog is naturally a predator, and chicken, being as they are flightless and tasty, are some of the easiest prey animals around.
Given all this, one might wonder why anyone would think that a dog cannot eat fried chicken – they’re certainly keen on any other kind of chicken, after all, and fried chicken is even hot and flavored – what’s not to like? While that line of reasoning certainly holds true for humans, many people are surprised that it’s that heat and flavoring that can be troublesome.
Dogs like chicken in nearly any form and humans aren’t far behind. What would your dog make of fried chicken?
As we’ve stated above, chicken is not only acceptable for dogs, it’s one of their preferred meats, and the dog is naturally inclined to scarf anything that tastes or smells like chicken. You’ll find your dog can indeed eat fried chicken, but just because they can doesn’t mean they should.
Commercial fried chicken is of particular note in this instance, because, with very few exceptions, the fried chicken from your favorite fast-food shop is made with a breading as opposed to being simply skinned and fried with no additives. A dog could get down a piece of plain fried chicken in short order with few ill effects, but commercial chicken breading will usually have spices blended into the breading before it is applied.
It comes as a surprise to most pet owners to learn that some of the spices that humans like the best, including onion, garlic, salt, and pepper, can all take a serious toll on a dog’s digestive system. Dogs are by nature inclined to eat their food raw, and their digestive systems are not acclimated to spices in much the same way as ours are incapable of safely ingesting raw meat. Dogs are so badly built to handle spices that they lack even the taste receptors needed to process that food is spicy.
Without the proper internal biology to break down spices, dogs can find themselves dangerously sick if they consume even moderate quantities of seasoning. Garlic and onion in particular are known to be toxic to dogs, causing internal chemical reactions that effectively short-circuit their stomach’s chemistry. Salt and pepper are less severe, but can both cause unnatural fluctuations in the dog’s water retention, leading to compulsive drinking and highly irregular urination.
A secondary effect arises even in home-cooked or unbreaded fried chicken, based on the frying process itself. Because chicken isn’t aquatic, they do not have the thick layer of subcutaneous fat that many other fowl do; while duck, goose, or swan can realistically be cooked in their own fat, frying chicken requires the cook to add oil of one kind or another, especially if attempting a deep-fry.
The resulting chicken, while delicious, will have so many calories added to it that it becomes a bad idea for humans to overload on it as well. Dogs have a more serious problem than a simple caloric intake – the excess fat can give dog pancreatitis, a painful and potentially fatal condition.
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas, an organ in both humans and dogs responsible for breaking down tougher molecules of sugar and fat, becomes overworked and ceases to function. Because most dogs are smaller than their owners, a quantity of chicken that might just give the owner a full meal could leave the dog in need of veterinary treatment, especially if the dog is older or does not lead an active lifestyle.
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The Good News
One piece of fast-food chicken is unlikely to hurt your dog, as the quantities used in most ordinary recipes are too small to cause any real damage. You will probably be safe with an extra-long walk to stimulate the dog’s digestive and try and work off some of the added fats that are used in the frying process.
Another piece of good news for pet owners is that much of this applies exclusively to fried foods. Foods prepared without adding fat or using fewer spices, such as boiling or baking skin-on, can be safely fed to the dog as long as the skin and bones have been removed. This is the premise behind those bowl toppers mentioned earlier; made of nothing but white meat, they can be fed to the dog safely and without further checking for anything harmful.
If you have decided that you just can’t bear to see your dog looking at your meal order anymore and want to toss him a piece of fried chicken, keep a close eye on your dog for signs of intestinal trouble or unusual elimination patterns. Should symptoms like these remain for more than a day or two, seek veterinary assistance; even if your dog is perfectly fine, you should at least make sure that they aren’t sick from the chicken.
As an added precaution, try taking a more proactive approach to the problem by teaching your dog that it is not allowed to eat any of your food. Use a strict daily feeding schedule and a set bowl in a single lace around the house to reinforce the dog’s perception that it should be concentrating on its food, not yours. The association with food tends to make the dog take to this kind of training fairly quickly, and your dog will be both healthier and better disciplined once you are done.
Being honest with ourselves, fried chicken isn’t particularly good for humans either, but the appeal of crispy, hot fried chicken still draws the orders in droves. Your dogs run a far more immediate risk than you do by eating the stuff, though, and should not be given any no matter how politely they ask. If you really want to see them jump for joy, try a piece of boiled chicken or an unseasoned portion of hamburger meat to take their mind off of your plate.
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