Feeding your dog used to be as simple as one, two, three. Step one, buy a bag of dog food. Step two, pour the food into a bowl. Step three…oh, the food’s already gone? Okay, maybe it’s only as easy as one-two! And while I realize that, for many dog owners, this is probably still the case, I also know that the pet industry has advanced very quickly in the last decade.
With this advancement, there has been an increased number of dog owners taking extra care and attention to their dog’s health. When you combine these advancements with the power of the internet, many people are now more informed than ever on a wide variety of topics with regards to improving the lives of their pets.
From product recommendations like leashes and toys, to health tips like medications and diet advice, people can be more confident than ever that they are doing what’s best for their beloved animals.
Or can they? There are indeed some unfortunate caveats that come along with this wealth of information. One of the biggest issues that I see dog owners run into is being overwhelmed with too much information.
While there are a lot of great sources on the internet, sometimes the best information gets diluted out by a bunch of other mediocre resources, or a lot of times people just want a simple recommendation rather than having to feel like they need to do hours of research to come to the proper conclusion.
This is certainly the case when it comes to your dog’s diet. Just like how us humans are always hearing about the latest “magic bullet” to finally have the diet we’ve always wanted (i.e. keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, whole 30, the list goes on), this same sort of trend cycling occurs for the pet world as well.
My hopes in writing this article is to simplify the conversation down to one food that will stand the test of time and the undulating rotation of information online. Chicken.
For anyone looking to take one small step in boosting your dog’s health via a diet change, learning how to incorporate chicken is surely an awesome way to start. There are many health benefits, many ways to prepare it, and many ways to be sure that your dog is going to love their new and improved diet!
Why Chicken Is Good For Your Dog
Chicken is a great source of lean protein. It is considered to be lean since there is very little fat content for the amount of protein you get pound for pound out of most cuts of chicken. This means that your dog will be at a lower risk of the many harmful side effects of a high fat diet such as unnecessary weight gain, increased lethargy, and heart disease. The high protein content will do two primary things. First, it helps repair your dog’s muscles, especially after a long day of physical activity (which, by the way, you should be aiming to give your dog around an hour of exercise a day if possible). Secondly, protein keeps your dog full and satisfied for a
longer period of time than carbohydrates and fats. I know it may be hard to believe that your dog could ever feel full in the first place, but trust me, protein certainly helps!
There are also some reasons why adding chicken to your dog’s diet is good for you as well! Not only will your beloved pooch be more active and stronger than ever, you can reap some financial benefits this way as well. In general, chicken is the most cost effective source of meat at the majority of common grocery stores, especially if you buy in bulk.
It freezes easily, so this is certainly recommended if you have the freezer space to support. Also, many dog owners already eat chicken fairly regularly. I sure know, for myself, I often throw away a small portion of the chicken from my meals. However, with some more intentional planning, I can get away with sharing some of the chicken I was already going to purchase myself with my dog, Moose. This helps the environment by reducing waste, and it also helps out my wallet!
Easy Ways To Incorporate Chicken Into Your Dog’s Diet
So you’ve got some chicken, now what’s the best way to go about giving it to your dog? To start, let’s talk about what not to do. You should not fry your dog’s food, this will add a lot of fat, essentially undoing all the benefits of eating lean protein as mentioned above.
Fried foods are very harsh on your dog’s digestive system, and there is a good chance that they can get sick. Another major thing to avoid is feeding your dog raw chicken. For the same reasons why we avoid raw chicken ourselves, salmonella and unwanted bacteria, you need to protect your dog from these also. In addition, be sure to remove any bones and cartilage from the chicken before feeding it to your dog.
If they end up eating a small piece here and there, they will be fine, but larger pieces are difficult to chew and can be a choking hazard.
My recommendation is to cook your dog’s chicken plain and in an Instant Pot. The Instant Pot is a great tool to add to your kitchen. It is fast, requires little monitoring once you start it, and makes it easy to cook in bulk. I can generally cook up about 5 days worth of chicken in one shot, and it only takes about 20 minutes total.
Of course, if you do not have this luxury item, you can grill it, bake it, or pan sear it. Just be sure to cook it all the way through, and be very light on any oils or seasonings.
If you are cooking chicken for yourself at the same time, I would recommend cooking them separately to avoid adding too many unnecessary adders to your dog’s meal. Remember, your dog does not digest food the same way that we do, so be sure to err on the side of caution and simplicity when planning out meals.
How Much Should I Be Feeding My Dog?
The answer here, of course, is it depends. It will vary based on the size of your dog, your dog’s breed, its age, as well as several other factors. Please make sure to consult your vet if you do not feel like you have a good grasp on how much food your dog requires.
They will be able to provide you with great tips on how to properly portion and balance your dog’s meals and snacks. To offer a reference point, if you are currently feeding your dog rice, a 2:1 rice to
chicken ratio is recommended. It may take a week or two for you to hone in on the best amount. You don’t want your dog to be super stuffed after eating, but you certainly want to make sure they are full and satisfied.
For a personal reference, my dog, Moose is a 5 year old German Shepherd mix, weighing in at about 55 pounds. He eats chicken with each meal (so twice a day). This adds up to about two medium sized breasts per day. So feel free to use this as a baseline to increase or decrease based on the size of your dog. Moose is fairly active and goes on runs with me up to 8 miles at a time.
For this reason, he eats a fair bit of carbs as well, mostly from rice or traditional dog food. And since he’s a little bit of a stinker, he usually sneaks in a couple snacks from my friends and family members when I am not watching.
A Sample Chicken Recipe To Try
Here is a sample meal that I often cook for Moose. The main reason why I love it is that it is painfully simple. Other than boiling the chicken breast, there are no cooking skills required.
My kind of recipe! If you are looking for something a little fancier, a quick Google search will give you hundreds of results (remember, don’t get too overwhelmed by all the information – try to find something simple and doable).
– One boiled chicken breast (again, it must be boiled rather than fried to avoid stomach
irritation and potential salmonella) – 4 spinach leaves – 4 carrots – 6 blueberries – Multivitamin (be sure to consult your vet first) – Fortiflora probiotics (for healthy digestion) – 1/8 cup of chicken broth
Other Meats To Consider
Now, I realize that my goal was to keep this painfully simple and to only talk about chicken, however, I often have people ask me if there are any other meats to try out. Whether you want to make sure your dog doesn’t get too bored of eating the same thing everyday, or if you just want to see if they feel better eating something else (and, some dogs can actually be allergic to chicken), I decided to include this small section with a couple of alternatives. Take it for what you will, but I will still prefer chicken to all of these options any day.
Beef is a good alternative meat to try, although I would not recommend it everyday like I do with chicken. Make sure to look for leaner, less fatty cuts. To keep things simple and cut down on cost, you can even use ground beef.
Perhaps the next most interesting meat to explore is salmon. Salmon is a lot more expensive than chicken, but does have some health benefits. It has a moderate protein content and has healthier fats than most other meats.
Turkey is pretty healthy as well if you want to go that route. However, in my opinion, it is slightly more expensive, slightly harder to prepare, and doesn’t have any significant nutritional superiority to chicken.
In today’s day and age, you have no excuse to not invest in your dog’s health. There is a seemingly infinite amount of information at your fingertips, and while it can be overwhelming, if you take a deep breath and find simple, practical solutions to act towards increasing your dog’s wellbeing, you are sure to find success.
With diet being one of the primary pillars of your dog’s health, it is vital that you take this into serious consideration. Do your best to ignore all the “fads” and trends that many companies will try and force upon you. Keep things simple for yourself and start out with chicken. Chicken is cheap, healthy, and easy to cook. With a little bit of work on the front end, you will see enormous benefits from introducing this super protein into your dog’s diet!