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Like many pet owners, you may be thinking more about your dog’s diet these days and may be curious whether your dog can eat chicken breast as a meal.

More studies show that many dog foods are full of fillers and animal by-products, not actual animal meat. And, the ones that do boast real meat as being one of their main ingredients can be expensive. Plus, if you are a fan of cooking chicken for yourself, why not get a little extra and make it for your dog as well?

It is perfectly okay for your dog to eat chicken breast as long as the chicken is well-cooked, is accompanied by other vital nutrients, has no added sauces or spices, and is boneless when you give it to your dog.

Dog health is more complex than we used to think. Knowing what is going to keep your pet in the best shape, physically and mentally, is an important part of your dog’s overall care. But this is easier said than done when there is a lot of conflicting information out there and something that looks like it is healthy can have one small tweak and turn it into something that’s not.

There are only two humans in my house and one sweet pooch, Izzy. As I am often making dinner for just two people, I often wonder if a bit of chicken breast is a viable option to add to Izzy’s nightly scoop of dog food. Let me explain how it can be if you follow certain steps to make sure it’s safe and adequate for your favorite furry friend.

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Can My Dog Eat Chicken Breast?

Dogs are carnivores, and from the beginning of time they have been finding and eating their own meat. As a predator, they knew how to feed themselves long before we came along. But our domesticated pals don’t have to hunt the way their ancestors did. That said, they still enjoy fresh meat, and we can feed it to them as long as we follow certain rules.

1. Make Sure Your Chicken is Fully Cooked

Dogs are similar to us in many ways. Eating raw chicken is bad for humans, and it’s bad for dogs also. Raw chicken breast has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria which can cause food poisoning in your dog or even result in death if left untreated.

The best way to avoid the potential Salmonella contamination is to make sure that chicken is thoroughly cooked before you feed it to your dog. You can use a meat thermometer to ensure the inner temperature of the breast has reached 165°F before you serve it to your pooch.

Boiling your chicken breast is the best way to ensure it’s fully cooked while being able to monitor its temperature.

You should also refrigerate any leftover chicken within a couple of hours of cooking it. If your chicken is left out for longer than that, it also risks being exposed to pathogens that can make your dog (and you) sick when you go to serve it as a leftover.

2. Make Sure Your Chicken is Accompanied by Other Things

If you decide to give your dog some chicken breast as a treat, or in-between meal snack, that’s fine. But if you decide that you’re going to serve it as his main breakfast or dinner, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got other things on the menu than just chicken breast.

Dog food companies have come a long way in creating balanced foods that contain all the ingredients that your furbaby needs. Chicken is high in protein – a very necessary part of your dog’s diet (and usually listed first as an ingredient in higher-quality dog foods.) But, protein alone won’t give your pooch everything he needs.

Healthy grains, foods high in fiber, and ones that provide essential vitamins and minerals are all also important for your dog’s overall growth, health and weight. You need to make sure he is eating a balanced diet with the right combination of all these things if you plan on customizing his meal plan yourself. There are lots of resources online that will help you determine what foods you can feed your dog to make sure you are giving him all the essentials – and that they will taste good, too!

3. Make Sure Your Chicken is as Plain as Possible

Food is the spice of life – but not for our four-legged friends. Spicy foods, added salt, special sauces, or extra seasonings – none of these are needed in a chicken breast that’s being prepared for your pet.

I know, it sounds boring. But not only will your dog probably turn his nose up at all those extra ingredients, his tummy will not be happy later.

As I mentioned previously, boiling the chicken breasts will not only ensure they are cooked all the way through, but boiling is an easy way to cook them without having to add extra oils or butter, ingredients that may prove to upset his stomach and cause him to have diarrhea later or vomit.

Dogs also have significantly fewer taste buds than we do. So not only will added flavors upset his stomach, they just don’t serve any benefit. He’s not going to like the food any better. Remember, he’s a carnivore by nature. Fresh chicken is fresh chicken. Plain and simple.

4. No Bones About It

And finally, even though we all know our dogs like an occasional bone as a treat, stay away from serving your dog a chicken breast with any bones still attached. Studies have shown that any sort of cooked bone can splinter and cause internal tears in a dog’s intestinal or stomach lining.

Raw bones can be a good source of much-needed nutrients for dogs, but again, great care should be taken when determining if the bone you are choosing is free from any sort of bacteria that could make your pup sick. Sticking with bone alternatives may be your best bet.

If you want to save some money and buy chicken breasts with the bone still in, that’s fine. Just make sure you remove all the meat before plunking that juicy piece of chicken breast into your buddy’s bowl. He will thank you later.