When we decided to transition our dog to a raw diet, we did a ton of research about the different meat sources we could potentially use. While our dog does get a variety, we decided to feed a diet based on chicken. Not only is it cheap and easy to procure, it is also one of the best protein sources for a raw diet.
There were a few safety questions we had to address when deciding to feed raw meat to our dog, especially chicken. First, would the dog get sick? Chicken is notorious for harboring bacteria when uncooked. The website Myths About Raw addresses this concern. Dogs’ digestive systems are much better equipped than ours for handling bacteria without getting sick. Salmonella infections are extremely rare in healthy adult dogs. Puppies, elderly dogs and those with immune system issues are more susceptible to salmonella, but if your adult dog is healthy, you probably don’t need to worry.
The second question we had was about chicken bones. You hear horrible stories about chicken bones piercing through a dog’s stomach or getting caught in their throat. That is a real threat with cooked chicken. According to ThreeDogBlog.com , cooking chicken turns the bones brittle and they can easily splinter. Raw chicken bones are much softer, and so most dogs can eat chicken wings, necks and carcasses with no harm. If you’re still uneasy with feeding your dog chicken bones (as we are!), you can still get all the nutritional components by grinding them up. The bones offer important nutritional value, so don’t leave them out entirely! Chicken is actually ideal: wings have a good flesh to bone ratio, and are small and easy to handle for most dogs.
My friend has a pit bull that is prone to digestive upset. She swears by boiled chicken meat and rice whenever her dog has a flare-up, since these two bland foods are easy to digest. Chicken is some of the most digestible protein you can feed to your dogs. Some dogs have been known to develop allergies to beef products, but they are fine on a chicken diet.
Proteins and Amino Acids
Studies done decades ago cite diets high in protein as the cause of kidney failure in dogs. It is true the low quality protein can cause kidney damage. Low quality protein generates large amounts of waste when it is processed by the liver. This leaves the kidneys to clean up, leading to severe kidney problems. High quality protein, such as real, raw chicken, does not generate high amounts of waste, putting much less stress on the kidneys. According to About.com, six chicken wings have up to 34 grams of protein; a 6oz piece of breast meat can have almost 40. Amino acids, which make up proteins, are important building blocks for your dog’s body. So a diet high in good quality protein helps your dog lead a healthier life.
Chicken is low in overall fat, and higher in unsaturated fat. It also has some of the best fatty acids of all these other protein sources This is comparable to other meats such as beef, lamb, and turkey. However, most of these meats also carry a higher percentage of saturated fats.
For our domestic pets, one of the most important mineral considerations should be the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of your dog food. These two minerals work together to grow and maintain healthy teeth and bones, among other things. Too much or two little of either can cause a host of skeletal issues. The great thing about feeding chicken necks and wings is that the bones are small and easily consumed by most dogs, and also happen to be a great source of the proper amounts of both calcium and phosphorus. The marrow in bones also includes copper and iron, both important for combating fatigue. Including chicken bones in your dog’s meal, either whole or ground, makes it easier to feed your dog the proper amounts of both.
Chicken fat contains vitamins A, D, and E. Vitamin A helps with vision and coat health, vitamin D works with calcium and phosphorus to promote strong bones and teeth, and vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, which is essential for proper reproduction and is one factor in preventing cancer. For more information on vitamins and minerals, visit www.dogfoodproject.com.
Not only does chicken contain good protein and many essential vitamins and minerals, the act of eating chicken helps keep teeth clean. The chewing of chicken bones will also develop the muscles in the face, jaw, and neck.
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