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Oy, we get this question a lot.
The story usually goes, either the owner left a whole chicken or chicken parts on the counter and the dog jumped up and ate it, or more commonly, the owner threw away leftover bones and skin and plastic bags and whatever into the trash and the dog ate it.
It’s very true, that raw chicken can, on occasion, harbor Salmonella bacteria or E. coli that can make a person (or a dog) sick.
On the other hand, there are dog owners who ROUTINELY give their dogs whole raw chickens to eat, sometimes for years, and those dogs are usually fine.
I’m not an expert on raw diets, but it’s my understanding that clients who “feed raw” usually wash and prepare the meat just as they would for their own human family. Still, very few of these folks seem to be too concerned about Salmonella affecting their dog if they happen to eat any unclean bits. Some people even think exposing dogs to chronic low levels of ugly bacteria helps them defend themselves against said bacteria.
It is clear though, especially in light of the recent Diamond Pet Food Recall, that salmonella can, in fact, make dogs (and humans) sick. So it might just be a “luck of the draw” thing whether or not your particular chicken has bad bacteria all over it, and whether or not your particular dog gets sick from eating that bacteria.
It also makes sense to me, though again I have no research to support this, that raw chicken left for hours or days in the trash and THEN eaten, probably has more badness on it, and is therefore more likely to make your dog sick.
QUESTION: is it true that chicken bones, being “hollow”, can “splinter and poke through important parts of my dog like the intestines”?
ANSWER: Probably. However, have I seen a case of this in 11 years? Nope.
QUESTION: Are there other reasons dogs who eat raw chicken might get sick besides Salmonella or E. coli?
ANSWER: Well sure! If she eats nothing but a bag full of skin, the high fat content might upset her pancreas and cause pancreatitis. Also, consider that ANY diet change in a dog can upset their normal intestinal bacterial flora leading to diarrhea (which is why we routinely recommend a slow-mixing-transition between diets). If your dog is not used to eating raw, suddenly being exposed to something new might upset the digestive tract for a few days.
So, in conclusion….
QUESTION: Will my dog get diarrhea from eating the raw chicken?
ANSWER: Possibly. If that happens, give us a call.
QUESTION: Will my dog start vomiting from eating the raw chicken?
ANSWER: Unlikely. If that happens, give us a call.
Today’s lesson: don’t panic, and always keep our number handy. :)