Leo's Pet Care, 10598 N College Ave #200, Indianapolis, IN 46280

Veterinary Clinic and Animal Hospital serving Indianapolis and Carmel

Office Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 9am-12pm

Phone: (317) 721-7387 | Fax: 317-564-4902


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My dog ate raw chicken!

dog ate raw chicken


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. :)

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  • OnTheFloorDove

    @IndianapolisVet Sweet blog! We saw a raw chicken case recently – a leg lodged in the dog’s esophagus: http://t.co/0AB5JLEt

    • IndianapolisVet

      @OnTheFloorDove Would you kindly write a comment with that link on the bottom of the blog? http://t.co/7PdB3Ei2

      • OnTheFloorDove

        @IndianapolisVet Definitely, our pleasure! :) PS. Your website rules

        • IndianapolisVet

          @OnTheFloorDove Why thank you!! @estherfoxDOTcom made my awesome website for me! :)

        • estherfoxDOTcom

          @IndianapolisVet @onthefloordove :)

        • OnTheFloorDove

          @estherfoxDOTcom @indianapolisvet Nice work!

        • estherfoxDOTcom

          @OnTheFloorDove @indianapolisvet thank you much!

  • meranduh

    @IndianapolisVet when I was 9, our golden retriever Big Boy choked & eventually died after getting chicken bones from trash. :( It happens.

    • IndianapolisVet

      @meranduh Would you mind adding that as a comment to the blog? Sorry to hear your story. :( http://t.co/7PdB3Ei2

  • http://atdove.org On the Floor at Dove

    We’re a 24-hr ER/ICU hospital, and we recently saw a dog for this (a Beagle who was regularly fed raw chicken). The catch was – an entire chicken leg was lodged in his throat! He was referred from another local hospital who took radiographs and saw the bones.
    We used an endoscope to inspect the area, then a surgeon pulled the leg out gently with some forceps. The largest bone had been broken, sticking out a bit and puncturing his esophagus while in there. However, he was fine overall and everyone involved had a weird story to tell!
    Here are the pictures: http://on.fb.me/LnyXXp

    • http://www.leospetcare.com/ IndianapolisVet

       @On the Floor at Dove Holy Toledo! Thanks for the awesome photos. OK, folks, word to the wise – if your dog swallows an entire raw chicken leg, bad things might happen.

  • DawgBlogger

    Great article. Note on diet changes, so it seems that dogs who are on home-cooked or raw, particularly where ingredients are rotated, do not have any problem with changes. Even Jasmine, as delicate as she is, can have beef for a week, then turkey for couple days, pork for couple of days … and it doesn’t upset her system at all.
    It would appear to me that the diet change issues is a problem only for dogs fed kibble, particularly one type over extended period of time.

    • http://www.leospetcare.com/ IndianapolisVet

       @DawgBlogger It would appear as though yours is a hypothesis worthy of proper research…

  • http://www.leospetcare.com/author/melissa/ MelissaShyanNorwaltPhD

    Just returned from a week long workshop with Dr. Karen Overall DVM.  When asked about raw diets, she indicated that the research shows that between 20-30% of all raw meat in the USA contains salmonella and/or ecolli (which I can’t spell correctly).  She indicated that she would never feed raw meat.
    As for chicken and chicken bones (raw or otherwise), the late Dr. Don Delahanty, of Cornell University Veterinary College, always said that some dogs can eat it and some can’t.  How can you tell? The one’s that can’t choke or get punctures–so he recommended don’t try it.
    So there you go.  To me, having been around when zoo elephants caught salmonella and the whole herd almost died (were on IVs and meds for weeks–you never saw anything so sad…), I just  wouldn’t risk it. 
    Accidents do happen, so, as Dr. Magnusson says, be careful, pay attention, and call him if you see signs…  
    If you’d like to teach your dog to avoid chicken or other foods (especially on walks where the temptation is great and the food is old and gross) let me know.  E-collars, by the way, don’t work (and there’s hard science why this is so).  I can help with the behavior part.

  • Marisa Barnett

    We recently got a 1 1/2 year old boxer and have a 3 year old boxer and we had sat some frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts out on the kitchen counter for them to thaw, like we always do and never had a problem with our 3y/o, so we didn’t even think anything would happen. We came home to a pile of whole chicken breasts that have been vomited out (as if they were unable to be choked down) and diarrhea. Our 3y/o has not had a loose stool movement during this whole time but our 1y/o has had loose stool for 2 days and blood toward the end for 1 day, and the stool has been less and less each day. BUT she is being playful and runs around and still acts as if she is hungry and thirsty. We were told to try pedialite and plain yogurt? So today is our first day trying. Wish us luck! Poor girl!

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