German Shepherds are intelligent, energetic dogs that require the right combination of exercise and enrichment to thrive in human environments. While dog foods formulated especially for German Shepherds offer a convenient, easy way to meet their nutritional needs, some owners opt to provide raw meats such as chicken and beef because they believe it more closely mimics a natural, ancestral diet.
But is raw chicken safe for German Shepherds to eat?
In this article, we’ll look at whether it’s possible for German Shepherds to eat raw chicken safely and what the dangers of doing so might be.
Can German Shepherds Eat Raw Chicken?
In general, German shepherds can eat raw chicken, and it might even provide certain benefits to their diet in some cases. This includes chicken bones, breasts, drumsticks, feet, necks, and wings.
However, there are risks involved in doing so that owners should be aware of before deciding whether to include raw chicken in a German shepherd’s diet. The main reason why owners usually prefer not to feed their dogs raw chicken is that bacteria such as salmonella.
Whether or not a German shepherd’s body is able to neutralize and eliminate these harmful bacteria depends on your dog’s body conditions.
For German shepherds that are healthy, with strong immune systems, the risks of these pathogens causing illness are low because their stomachs are more acidic than humans. This is how dogs’ ancestors ate raw meat and bones for centuries – and many dogs still do – with no ill effects.
As a matter of fact, raw chicken can actually offer a number of benefits when included as a portion of a balanced diet.
Let’s take a look at each part of the chicken that German shepherds can eat and what benefits (or dangers) it might have for your dog.
Raw Chicken-Bones: Feet, Legs, Necks, and Wings
Raw bones are a healthy option for many dogs, who will happily chew on them.
Feeding your dog raw chicken bones once or twice a week maybe the only dental care they need! In addition to being a natural dental treat, raw chicken bones provide a good source of glucosamine and chondroitin that are essential for supporting joint health.
But still, there are some risks that you need to be aware of when it comes to feeding your German shepherd raw bones.
Throughout my blog, you might have noticed that I always recommend feeding only raw meaty bones and avoiding those big, baked beef leg bones that you can buy at the pet stores. That’s because these hard, brittle, or baked bones can chip or break your dog’s teeth and even puncture their esophagus or intestines when they try to digest them.
One good thing about chicken bones is that they’re small, soft, and easy to digest even if swallowed whole.
Another thing to note is that dogs can easily ingest too many bones. That’s why it’s advisable to limit the number of bones you feed your shepherd, so they don’t become constipated. But don’t worry, your dog has to eat dozens of bones before they’ll bother their stomachs.
Chicken is a very important source of protein for both humans and dogs. In addition to being packed with protein, chicken also contains Omega 3 fatty acids that are beneficial for keeping your dog’s fur soft, shiny, and healthy. And just like chicken bones, chicken meat also contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which are essential for supporting joint health.
One part of chicken meat that’s often used in dog food is the chicken breast. Cooked or raw, pureed or finely minced – there are so many ways of feeding your shepherd pure chicken breast as a healthy option.
Some vets, however, caution owners about feeding cooked chicken breasts to their dogs due to the rare but possible risk of salmonella poisoning. For most dogs, the chance of getting sick from eating raw chicken is very low as their stomach is able to neutralize and eliminate harmful bacterias before they can cause harm.
Still, some dogs are indeed more sensitive to chicken than others. In fact, chicken meat is one of the most popular food allergens for dogs, so if you suspect your dog might be allergic to chicken, it’s best to consult a vet before feeding them either raw or cooked chicken.
If you have a German shepherd who is in need of increased protein, the liver is the best kind of meat to feed them. The liver is a powerhouse of nutrients and can be an excellent source of vitamins A, B, iron, copper, and zinc.
In fact, the chicken liver has about twice the selenium and iron as beef liver and four times more protein per serving.
Just as the other chicken organs mentioned above, the same rule applies to the chicken liver. If your shepherd is perfectly healthy, then feeding raw chicken liver is a good option. However, suppose your shepherd has been ill recently or is currently recovering from an illness. In that case, it’s best to consult a vet before giving them raw chicken livers.
Can German Shepherd Puppies Eat Raw Chicken?
Just like their adult counterparts, puppies can also benefit from feeding on raw chicken meat.
However, when they are still very young (under 6 months), you need to adjust the portion size, so they don’t get a stomachache.
The reason for this is because, like human babies, puppies can’t yet build up resistance against bacteria and germs. So when they eat raw meat, the risk of getting sick from contaminants in the meat or bacterias on its surface is high.
And don’t forget that since their stomachs are still developing, new food sources need to be introduced gradually to avoid stomach upsets or allergic reactions.
How Much Raw Chicken Can a Dog Eat?
As a general rule, German shepherds can safely eat raw chic between 2% to 3% of their body weight in raw chicken. For example, healthy adult German shepherds weighing around 75 pounds can eat 1.5 to 2.25 pounds of raw chicken per day. This number usually splits over two meals a day.
Taking the Necessary Precautions with Raw Chicken
Despite their stomachs’ remarkable abilities to neutralize and expel harmful bacterias, your shepherd is not entirely immune to food-borne illnesses such as salmonella.
So as a responsible dog owner, you should always take necessary measures to help ensure your German shepherd’s safety and well-being. Here are some important precautions you should take:
- Take note of the purchase date and make sure the chicken is still fairly fresh.
- Rinse the chicken first with clean water before feeding it to your dog. This will help ensure that there are no chemicals or contaminants on the chicken.
- Use leaner cuts of chicken and avoid those with lots of extra fats, especially the skin.
- If this is the first time you are feeding your shepherd raw chicken breasts, start with a small piece. Observe their reactions over the next 24 hours to see if they have any allergic reaction or stomach upset. If all goes well, you can gradually increase the amount of chicken you feed them over time.
- Don’t let the frozen chicken thaw on the counter, as this could potentially cause bacteria to form on it. It’s better to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
So, Should You Feed Raw Chicken to Your Dog?
At this point, you might be feeling some confusion about whether or not you should give your dog raw chicken. You might be inclined to give it a try due to the sheer nutritional value it has to offer, but on the other hand, you might still have some reservations about the health risks it also brings.
Throughout this article, I have tried my best to include everything you need to successfully answer this question for yourself. I believe that now you are better informed about raw chicken’s nutritional benefits and potential risks.
Having said that, the choice is ultimately up to you as the dog owner. However, if you do feed your shepherd raw chicken, please make sure to take the necessary precautions to keep them safe and healthy.