You’re prepping for a barbeque. The pièce de résistance? ‘Beer can’ chicken, of course! You turn around to reach for the seasoning and even before you seat the bird on its aluminum throne, your pooch jumps up on the counter and swipes the whole bird. Looks like you’ll have to skip the barbeque this weekend and, even worse, you are now concerned with the fact that your dog ate raw chicken. Luckily, our vets are on hand to tell you what to do next.
Everyone knows how much care must be taken when handling raw poultry in the kitchen. Using separate cutting boards and washing all in-contact surfaces with hot, soapy water is recommended. Chicken should be cooked until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of at least 165⁰F.
Numerous sources state the dangers of bacteria, such as campylobacter and salmonella, which are found abundantly on the surface of raw chicken carcasses and undercooked chicken. These microbes are known to cause food poisoning in people and can also cause our dogs to get sick. Worse, even if our dogs cope well, they can ‘shed’ the bacteria in their feces and pass the diseases back onto us.
Can a Dog Get Sick From Eating Raw Chicken?
Thankfully, illness caused by raw chicken bacteria is uncommon in our canine friends. Studies have shown that dogs will often remain in good clinical health even when these bugs are present in their intestines. Still, because getting sick is not impossible, it’s a good idea to monitor your dog more closely over the 48 hours following raw chicken ingestion. Look out for signs of gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. If you see these or notice any other sudden changes in behavior, it’s best to make an appointment with your veterinarian for a check-up.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Raw Chicken
If your dog is acting normally, you don’t need to call the vet – yet. Watch your dog closely for signs of abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. You’ll need to be alert for signs of illness for 48 hours. If at any point you’re concerned that your dog is showing symptoms, it’s time to call the veterinarian. They’ll need to check your dog over and make sure that there’s nothing stuck.
In the meantime, you’ll need to be careful around your dog, as their saliva and feces could be contaminated with salmonella – and this could make you and your family ill. Do not let the dog lick you and wash your hands after touching them. Young children, pregnant women, and elderly individuals should avoid contact with the dog for at least 48 hours.
Chicken Bones Pose a Risk
So, your furry pal is probably off the hook in terms of bacterial infection but are chicken bones safe for dogs to eat? Unfortunately, not – the wings, drumstick, and neck portions of the chicken contain bones that have the potential to cause dangerous blockages in the guts of dogs.
My Dog Ate Raw Chicken; What Do I Do?
If you notice your dog salivating excessively or coughing repeatedly right after eating a bony chicken part, it is likely that it got stuck somewhere in the mouth or esophagus (the gullet). This is an emergency and you should see your veterinarian immediately! They will be able to determine the best way to proceed to remove any obstruction.
Even if no immediate trips to the vet are required, continue to monitor for signs of blockages lower down in the gastrointestinal tract. This can manifest as vomiting, diarrhea, changes in appetite, or abdominal pain. If you find that your dog is defecating normally at 48 hours after a bone-nabbing incident, the bone has probably been able to pass safely with no sudden veterinary trips necessary.
Is It Safe for Dogs to Eat Raw Chicken?
It’s true that cooking chicken bones makes them more prone to splintering than raw bones. A splintered bone is more likely to cause intestinal perforation, a deadly condition where the bone pierces the gut. However, there is always a risk of obstruction if your dog is eating something which is not entirely digestible, like bones. If you are looking to give your dog something to chew, there are plenty of commercial toys and treats available that are sturdy enough to withstand chewing or are readily digested when chewed and swallowed.
Can I Feed My Dog Raw Chicken?
Some dogs are fed a diet that includes raw chicken. Other than the danger of making your dog ill with bacteria or causing a blockage, feeding raw poultry on a regular basis comes with an additional set of risks that should be taken into account.
When feeding raw chicken to your dog, there are risks for other people in the house. Not only will your prep area be in need of a good wash-down, your dog’s bowl can also be a source of potential infection. Combined with the fact that dogs tend to be messy eaters, you will also have to consider giving the floor around the food bowl a deep clean after every meal.
And what about your furry pal, himself? Be aware that those doggie kisses can come with a side of salmonella! Those raw poultry bacteria are also more likely to be present in your dog’s feces, on the fur around their bottom, and even on your sofa. Because of this, feeding a raw diet is generally discouraged – especially if there are children, elderly, pregnant or immunocompromised individuals sharing the home, as they’re at the greatest risk of becoming ill with salmonella or campylobacter.