We’ve all seen chicken feet at supermarkets, butchers, and markets – and while many people all over the world love eating chicken feet, they look a little terrifying to most of us! But can dogs eat chicken feet? And are chicken feet good for dogs in any way? We take a look at the pros and cons of giving your dog chicken feet, and whether they should eat chicken feet raw, cooked, puffed, or dehydrated.
While they’re not the nicest looking things you can buy to eat, chicken feet are considered a tasty delicacy for people in many parts of the world. For most of us though, they’re a little creepy and gross. Keep reading to learn the answers to all your questions about giving your dog this chicken product.
Are chicken feet safe for dogs?
Dehydrated, raw, and puffed feet are all okay to give your dog. The only form you should never feed your dog is cooked feet. Cooked chicken in any form can be lethal for dogs, as the chicken bones when boiled, baked, or fried turn hard and can splinter easily, leading to potentially serious injuries for your pet when they chew and swallow them.
They’re composed of cartilage, skin, tiny bones, and tendons that your dog can easily crunch through. And while they should be avoided if you have a young puppy, or a dog that’s allergic to chicken, most dogs are sure to enjoy giving them a try!
Chicken feet may leave your dog’s breath a little stinky afterwards, but otherwise they’re a healthy treat that can help entertain your dog, and improve dog health by supporting better teeth and gums, and relieve joint pain.
If you’re feeding your dog chicken feet for the first time, supervise them closely in case they try to swallow an entire foot, or aren’t chewing the feet properly.
Types of chicken feet for dogs
Raw chicken feet
These can typically be found at your local butcher as chicken off-cuts, or at your local farmer’s markets or Asian grocery stores.
Where possible, buy local chicken feet. They can be bought fresh or frozen, and all they need is a thorough clean before you feed them to your dog.
Frozen chicken feet
As with all chicken bones, make sure you buy the feet as fresh as possible, and preferably free range. Keep some in the fridge to feed your dog, and then separate the rest and save them in the freezer.
Freezing the feet makes them rock hard, so you might like to wait for them to unthaw a bit before serving them as dog food.
If you’re buying frozen feet from a store, it can be hard to tell if they’re free range, or how old the feet are. Make sure the feet don’t originate from China, as there have been many chicken product pet food recalls due to more relaxed food safety rules over there than in the west.
Puffed Chicken Feet
These are air-dried feet, which means they retain more nutrition during the drying process. These types of feet are usually paler in colour than dehydrated feet, keep their original shape, and may look a little puffed up when you buy them.
Dehydrated Chicken Feet
These dried chicken feet are cleaned, and then dehydrated and packaged ready to buy. They have a very long shelf-life (up to a year) and are usually yellowish in colour and shrivelled-looking in comparison to the puffed version.
Dehydrated chicken feet are healthy for your dog, as the flavour and nutrients are sealed in during this drying process.
Check out these popular, USA-made dehydrated snacks for dogs:
Can I give my dog cooked chicken feet?
Are cooked feet dangerous for your dog? YES! Never EVER feed your dog cooked chicken bones!
When these feet bones are cooked at high temperatures, they can splinter easily and cause serious injuries to your dog. If your dog chews and swallows cooked chicken bones, they can puncture their gastrointestinal tract, or get caught in your dog’s throat.
If your dog manages to eat a cooked foot, or any other cooked chicken bones, remember to stay calm – and call your vet immediately for advice.
Health benefits of chicken feet for dogs
Chicken feet are high in nutrients, and low in calories compared to most meaty, commercial treats you can buy for dogs.
They’re also one of the best natural forms of arthritis treatment for dogs, as they’re packed with valuable glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to relieve joint pain.
Protein is an important source of energy for dogs. According to the National Research Council, 10% of your dog’s daily diet should be made up of protein.
As the average chicken foot contains 6.8 grams of protein, they’re a great way to give your dog more energy.
Joint health and mobility
Feet are naturally rich in natural glucosamine and chondroitin which are the building blocks of your pup’s cartilage and connective tissues. They’re essential for joint health, and give many other health benefits.
Each foot contains around 450 milligrams of glucosamine, which is about the daily dose recommended for a small to medium sized dog.
This makes them ideal for dogs who have health conditions such as arthritis or hip dysplasia. They are a cheap and natural alternative to giving your dog commercial joint supplements.
Teeth and gum health
Crunchy, chewy chicken feet help to clean your dog’s mouth and scrape away any build up of plaque and food on their teeth.
Dental disease is one of the most common diseases in dogs – affecting around 76% of all dogs in the United States, and this statistic is increasing every year.
Ensuring your dog’s dental health is important, otherwise your dogs dental disease can progress and lead to expensive vet treatments for your dog’s mouth infections, plus heart, kidney, and liver problems.
Chicken feet can work as natural, edible toothbrushes for your dog to avoid any tooth problems.
Nutrition facts of chicken feet for dogs
One chicken foot can provide your dog with a ton of nutrients. In one foot (35 grams), your dog can get:
- 75 calories of energy
- 29mg of cholesterol (10 % of the daily recommended intake)
- 23mg of salt/sodium (1 %)
- 6.8g of protein (14% )
- 5.1g of fat (7%)
- 0.1g of carbohydrates (0%)
- 30.80mg of calcium (2%)
- 29.05mg of phosphorus (4 %)
- 11mg of potassuim (5%)
- 0.32mg of iron (2%)
- 0.07mcg of Vitamin D(0%)
- 10.50mcg of Vitamin A (1%)
- 30.1mcg of folate (8%)
As you can see, these tiny feet can pack a mighty punch when it comes to boosting your dog’s daily nutrition!
How many chicken feet can I give my dog?
Should you give your dog this healthy snack every day? Depending on your dog’s size and breed, the answer is yes – you can feed your dog one or two chicken feet daily.
Just make sure to watch your dog while they munch on their feet, and ensure that your pup has access to plenty of fresh water (especially if you’re giving them puffed or dehydrated feet).
Whenever you add new foods to your dog’s diet – start them off slowly to check for any negative reactions they might have.
Risks of giving dogs chicken feet
While these feet are totally safe and non-toxic for most dogs, there are a few cautions you should know for the sake of your dog’s health.
The only part of a foot which can cause problems is the nails. These can be sharp and pointy, and can be hard on your dog’s body, or cause your dog’s stomach to become upset.
Commercial chicken legs mostly have the nails trimmed off before processing, but if your chicken feet still have nails on, they can usually be removed quickly with scissors before giving them to your dog.
Not suitable for some dogs
If your dog has a chicken allergy, or is obese, on a strict diet, or has pancreatic problems – they should avoid chicken feet.
Even though chicken legs are healthy, dogs on specific diets should stick to their prescribed meals and avoid extra treats.
Can puppies eat chicken feet?
Young puppies shouldn’t be given chicken feet, as they can find them hard to chew and swallow with their tiny puppy teeth.
Vets suggest that puppies can start safely having fresh or dry chicken legs from around four months old. This is typically when they start to lose their small baby teeth, and get their new adult teeth which will help them easily munch through those delicious chicken feet.
Where to buy chicken feet for dogs
In Asian countries, you’ll mostly find raw chicken legs at the wet markets.
In Western countries, you can find them at:
- Some Walmart stores
- Some supermarket meat departments
- Asian markets and grocery stores
- Butcher shops
- Farmers markets
Dehydrated chicken legs are available online, and the best places to buy them are on Amazon or Chewy. Store-bought dehydrated chicken feet don’t smell bad, but you need to keep them in the fridge once you open the pack.
Alternatively, you can buy raw chicken feet and dry them out at home in your dehydrator.
Puffed chicken legs with feet can also be found at good pet stores, or online.
Safe alternatives to chicken feet
If chicken feet kind of freak you out, but you like the thought of giving your pet more pure and natural chew treats – you can try out these other popular alternatives.
If you were looking at chicken legs for their teeth-cleaning abilities, commercial dental chews are a good alternative to help your dog’s dental hygiene. They’re specially shaped and formulated to keep your dog’s teeth and gums in top shape, and relieve bad breath.
However, these dog treats are often not natural, and can be high in calories.
If your dog is allergic to chicken meat, but you want all the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin for your dog – duck feet are the ideal treat. Most dogs tolerate duck with no reactions.
The downsides are that they’re harder to find than chicken feet, and are much higher in fat, so should be avoided by dogs with weight or pancreas problems. You can buy dried chicken feet snacks for dogs at many pet stores.
Pig ears, cow ears, and buffalo ears
Dried ears are other great choices if you’re looking for natural chews. Snacks made from buffalo ears help to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and are mostly made of cartilage and skin, similar to chicken feet.
Dried treats like buffalo, pig, and cows ears can also be high in fat, so aren’t suitable for dogs with pancreas or obesity issues. And they’re a lot smellier than chicken feet, so will leave your dog with bad breath afterwards!
Many dog owners consider these an ideal pet treat. They can be bought as either raw or dehydrated chicken neck snacks. They’re high in glucosamine and chondroitin like chicken feet, so they’re an excellent snack.
The chicken bones are a little bigger in these treats, so if your dog has trouble chewing, or they’re a smaller breed, these may not be a suitable treat.
These animal ears have the benefit of being lower in fat than chicken feet, plus they don’t smell.
You can usually find these air-dried in pet stores. The big downside for many pet owners is that these ears often still have fur on them – which can be a little upsetting (but your dog won’t mind at all!)
Check out these popular alternatives to chicken feet for dogs:
In summary – can dogs eat chicken feet?
Chicken feet are totally safe for dogs, and they’re a great alternative to high sugar, high fat processed treats. Although they’re a little creepy to look at, your dog will love this crunchy, chickeny snack – and it’s full of protein and essential vitamins and minerals like glucosamine and chondroitin that are great for their mobility, energy, and dental health – and can be as effective as prescribed dog arthritis supplements.
You can give your dog raw chicken feet, or frozen, puffed, or dehydrated, but they should NEVER be given cooked chicken feet, as these can be fatal for your pup if they splinter and get stuck in your dog’s throat or stomach.
As always, consult your vet first if you have any concerns or questions about improving your dog’s life by feeding them chicken feet.