Can your dog eat chicken nuggets? Are they safe for your beloved canine? The short answer is yes, dogs can eat chicken nuggets, but they probably shouldn’t. While chicken itself is a great source of protein for your pooch, chicken nuggets contain a host of other potentially harmful ingredients that are not suitable for dogs. Of course, your dog will love them as much as you do, but just because something tastes good, that does not mean it is beneficial for your canine companion.
In this article, we take a deeper look at why your dog should not be fed chicken nuggets, as well as healthier alternatives to try out.
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Before changing your dog’s diet or introducing new ingredients or supplements that they haven’t eaten before, especially when it comes to human food, make sure to consult your veterinarian first. Every dog is different and requires an individual approach to nutrition, depending on their age, health, level of activity, and medical history. Guidelines offered in our article have been fact-checked and approved by a veterinarian but should be used as a mere guide on food safety, rather than an individual nutrition plan.
What Exactly Are Chicken Nuggets?
We all know them as a quick and tasty (but unhealthy) drive-through meal, but what exactly are chicken nuggets? Put simply, they are ground-up chicken meat that is battered with an egg and breadcrumb mixture and then deep-fried, but even then, it is not quite that simple.1 While most fast food outlets claim that the nuggets are made with quality chicken breast meat, they often contain large amounts of fat, salt, and other nasties that come with processed meat. This also includes preservatives, colorants, and flavorings, to name a few.
Health Risks of Chicken Nuggets
Humans should not eat chicken nuggets regularly, if at all, and the same goes for your dog. While the occasional chicken nugget won’t dramatically harm your pooch, there are several reasons to avoid giving these treats to your dog, including:
Reasons to avoid feeding your dog chicken nuggets:
Healthy amounts of certain fats are not only good for your dog but are also an essential part of a healthy diet. However, not all fats are made equal, and some types of fat should be avoided whenever possible. Vegetable oil is one of them, especially the type used in the processing of chicken nuggets in fast food restaurants, where it is used over and over again. This high-fat content can lead to weight gain, upset stomach, and even pancreatitis in some dogs.
Another essential component to a healthy diet, salt can quickly become harmful in excess too. Too much salt can cause dehydration in your dog and lead to even more serious issues, like signs of salt toxicosis if dogs eat more than 2 grams of salt per kilo of their body weight.
While lean, boiled chicken is a great source of protein for your pooch, processed chicken is not. Processed meats often contain loads of salt, preservatives, colorings, and chemicals used in their production, all of which are potentially harmful to your dog.
Chicken nuggets contain a batter made from breadcrumbs and corn flour, both of which can cause bloating and digestion issues in some dogs, depending on the amount they eat and their size.
Sugar is a hidden ingredient lurking in most chicken nugget recipes and is definitely not good for your dog. Excessive sugar content in your dog’s diet can predispose them to obesity and digestion issues.
Chicken Nugget Alternatives
It can be tempting to add a portion of chicken nuggets to your drive-thru order as a treat for your pooch, but there are several potential concerns and no real health benefits. Fast food is not good for humans to consume regularly, and the same goes for dogs. While the odd chicken nugget here and there won’t do too much harm to your dog, there are similar alternative foods that your dog will love and that will be beneficial to their health.
Lean chicken meat. Processed chicken meat—or any processed meat, for that matter—contains several potentially harmful ingredients. Lean chicken meat, on the other hand, is an ideal alternative snack for your pooch. It’s even better if it is free-range and certified organic. Lean chicken meat is a great source of protein that is essential for energy and building lean muscle mass and is rich in omega-6, which will give your pooch a healthy skin and coat.
Fat. Fat is an essential component of your dog’s daily diet. Healthy fats will give your dog an energy boost and can help the absorption of certain vitamins. Healthy fat sources include animal fats and oils made from flax seeds and hemp seeds.
Vegetables. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkin can be used in a wide variety of ways as a healthy snack for your dog. Make sure to use them in moderation, and offer small pieces, as some dogs may be too keen and try to swallow a large piece of a carrot, which may lead to choking. There are tons of recipes online to make quick and simple snacks using these veggies and hemp or flax oils to cook with.
Homemade chicken nuggets are also a great alternative. Making your own chicken nugget treats for your pooch allows you to decide exactly what is inside. You can use the best ingredients possible, including whole chicken breasts, and even eat them yourself!
The occasional chicken nugget given to your dog likely won’t do them any harm, and all dog lovers know how convincing those eyes can be. However, chicken nuggets on a regular basis are definitely not recommended, for you or your pooch!