Chicken is a primary protein source that is widely found in commercial dog food. In recent years, it has been getting some bad rep for causing allergies in dogs, forcing pet parents to look for other protein ingredients in their packaged food. In reality, chicken is a well rounded source of protein that has been consumed regularly by majority of dogs around the world! Therefore, the chances of finding dogs, who are on a chicken based diet suffering from allergies is high. However, you have to know that this is often a correlation and not the cause of allergies!
Allergy is an overreaction by the body’s immune system when a foreign agent enters the body. Allergies can be caused by anything. Your vet’s primary job is to isolate what is exactly triggering the reaction in your dog. If it is something in your dog’s packaged food, then the vet will suggest switching to a different diet, with completely different ingredients. Commercial dog food is prepared with a lot of components that can cause an allergic reaction in dogs. In these cases, switching to a brand which uses a different protein, carbohydrate, as well as supplements and preservatives, usually helps eliminate the allergen from your dog’s meals. It should not be quickly assumed that your dog is allergic to chicken.
Pet parents have found that in some cases, when their dogs show allergic reactions to a chicken based dry food, home cooked chicken doesn’t affect them at all. This is because your dog is more likely to be allergic to one or more of the ingredients in the packaged food and not to the protein. Allergies are also often triggered by more than one factor. You should always ask for your doctor’s help to determine if your dog is truly allergic to the meat. It can be dangerous to assume that chicken is the instigating allergen, without trying to figure out what else might be causing your dog to fall sick!
Instead of fearing the protein blindly, it is useful to understand what are some of the reasons your vet might advise against feeding chicken to your dog. Every dog has different dietary requirements. If a dog needs high protein in his meals but is only fed chicken, which is considered to be a lean protein, it may lead to certain deficiencies manifesting in the dog. Similarly, if a dog with low fat requirements is fed chicken skin or the fat-rich chicken stock, it might lead to health complications. Cooked chicken bones can also be harmful for your dog. They splinter easily and can lodge in your dog’s gum or perforate the intestines.
Traditionally, chicken are raised in overcrowded spaces and inhumane conditions. Adding on, there is a rampant use of antibiotics to keep the poultry healthy and grow big. The overuse of antibiotic does raise some concerns that eating these chicken will cause the dogs to develop a tolerance for the antibiotics, thereby rendering them ineffective. It’s true that over time, with exposure, bacteria can mutate and develop resistance to some antibiotics. Because of these reasons, free range and local poultry make a point to offer products that are free of antibiotics and any other supplements. They are a little more expensive but are definitely more humane and safer to consume in the long run.
Chicken has less cholesterol and saturated fat unlike red meat, which can spike up your dog’s blood cholesterol level and affect his heart. Chicken is also a natural source of Vitamin B3 and B6. Vitamin B3 helps to lower the cholesterol level in your dog, while vitamin B6 has positive effects on metabolism, hormonal imbalance, skin conditions, and kidney disorders. Chicken also has selenium, a mineral which helps prevents coronary heart diseases, inflammations, and is rich in antioxidants.
Now, no balanced diet should be fully dependent on just one protein source. Your dog will have a much longer and healthier life, if his diet is carefully supplemented with necessary nutrients which cannot be found in chicken. It is recommended to combine with fish, which is rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Eggs can also be added to augment your pet’s calcium and protein needs. With this well-rounded combination, chicken is a good choice to provide your dog!
Consult your vet about your dog’s real nutrient requirements and customize his diet accordingly to suit his health needs. Every dog is different, and as they grow older, every dog needs his owner to research well and feed them the best food possible. It’s advisable not to dismiss one of the best animal protein sources out of hand, when it can keep your dog healthy and protect him against future ailments.
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