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As many pitbull parents look to explore the world of commercial dog food, some may become caught up on feeding a raw diet. And rightly so, there are many benefits to feeding fresh, whole foods.
Raw chicken often tops the list of ingredients in raw food recipes as it is a lean protein that is inexpensive and easy to get. Before you’re convinced to switch out your pitbull’s kibble with raw chicken, let’s look at both sides of the food bowl.
Pitbulls should not eat raw chicken because it can be loaded with Salmonella and other bacteria that could make your dog sick. Pitbulls can however eat cooked chicken as it provides a great source of lean protein for our canine companions.
The Benefits of Feeding Chicken to Your Pitbull
There’s a good reason that nearly every commercial dog food out there uses chicken as one of its main ingredients. First of all, chicken is a great source of protein without all of the calories that tag along with other protein sources.
Protein is an important component of a pitbull’s diet because it is used as an energy resource. It provides essential amino acids that are used to build muscle, transport nutrients, prevent illness and many other actions.
There are 22 amino acids used by a dog’s body. Most of them are manufactured within, but nine of them have to come from their food. Chicken does a pretty good job of providing many of those amino acids.
Chicken is also a good source of omega-6, an important component to a shiny and soft hair coat and glucosamine to help keep joints healthy.
While a dog can’t survive on chicken alone, it can make a great addition to your dog’s regular diet. Boiled or grilled chicken can be offered as a tasty treat as well.
Plus, chicken jerky makes a great training treat that is self-stable, easy to use, tasty, and packed with nutrients. Boiled chicken and rice have also long been a popular treatment for mild vomiting and diarrhea. It provides easily digestible nutrition to help keep a pup going without overtaxing the digestive system.
Commercial dog foods often contain whole chicken and chicken meal or chicken by-products. Don’t let the names fool you, chicken meal and by-products are usually very nutrient packed.
They don’t contain beaks and feathers, rather there are the rendered down chicken, such as fat, organ meat, and ground chicken. The rendering process removes moistures which in turn bumps up the protein content.
So, while whole chicken meat in your pitbull’s food is best, chicken meals and by-products can often be valuable as well depending on the brand of food you buy.
The Possible Downsides of Feeding Raw Chicken to Your Pitbull
Chicken is very nutritious, low in calories and easy to get your hands on, but raw chicken can be a bit of a problem. First of all, it can harbor bacteria and lots of it.
There’s no doubt you’ve been warned about the dangers of Salmonella poisoning and undercooked chicken. Well, the same risk is present for your dog eating raw meats. Salmonella, E. coli, and other bacteria can cause severe gastrointestinal infections producing diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy and possibly a fever.
Not only is this a problem for your dog, it can also affect you. The more that you handle raw meat, whether in preparation for your pitbull or yourself, the more you risk getting one of these bacterial infections as well.
On top of bacterial infections, many raw diets call for the use of bones. While chicken bones do have a high mineral value and are usually dissolved by stomach acid, they can be potentially dangerous to your pitbull’s gut. Chicken bones can easily splinter when crunched down on by a pitbull’s powerful jaws.
Those splinters can get lodged in or pierce the esophagus, stomach, or intestines causing choke or a perforation. Now, dogs in the wild often eat bones and have no trouble, but there is definitely an increased risk whether those bones are raw or cooked.
Finally, some pitbulls may be allergic to chicken. It’s true, chicken happens to be one of the most common food allergies in dogs and cats. Food allergies in pitbulls can present themselves in a variety of ways, including digestive issues like vomiting and diarrhea, skin issues, and chronic ear infections.
Since chicken is a popular ingredient in most commercial dog foods, pitbulls experiencing a chicken allergy would need to switch to a novel, or new, protein diet such as venison, buffalo, or duck.
Obviously, for these dogs, feeding chicken as a treat or as part of a raw diet would cause problems as well.
Dog Food Recommendation
If feeding your pitbull a raw diet of chicken is no longer on your to-do list, I have an article about the best dog food for pitbulls available. If you just want my top recommendation, here’s a commercial food that may work well for you.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
If you’re looking for a commercial dog food that is similar to a dog’s diet in the wild or a raw diet, look into Blue Buffalo Wilderness.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness is a high protein option to fuel your pitbull and help build and maintain strong, lean muscle. It contains whole meat and LifeSource Bits, which are little nuggets jam packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness is also a great source of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and hair. It comes in chicken, salmon, and Rocky Mountain Recipe with red meat varieties to satisfy any pitbull’s taste buds.
Chicken can be a wonderful protein component in any pitbull’s diet. It’s packed with essential nutrients and very few calories, giving your pup energy and building blocks without making them pleasantly plump.
However, raw chicken poses some bacterial threats to any dog’s stomach as well as the stomach of those that feed them. Feeding raw chicken can also be a problem for pitbulls with food allergies and chicken bones can cause digestive problems as well.
As long as your pitbull doesn’t have a chicken allergy, don’t shy away from feeding it. Rather, you may choose to feed cooked chicken as a treat or component to a balanced homemade diet.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been a veterinarian since 2010. When she’s not practicing medicine or writing, she’s spending time with her family in the great outdoors of Idaho or tending to her menagerie of animals.