Dogs sometimes get picky and only eat chicken. Short term, a chicken-only diet may be okay. Long term, your dog will miss out on vital nutrients.
There may be underlying health problems that make a dog only eat chicken, so get them checked by a vet to be sure. Then, start introducing other foods.
When it comes to diet, dogs are just like us. They have their favorite foods, and the foods they just don’t like the taste of. It doesn’t take long for most dog owners to figure out what their pooch won’t eat, and what they crave.
A lot of dogs are quite happy to eat their preferred food all the time, but they do need variety to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.
If your dog only eats chicken and won’t eat anything else, you may need to seek advice from a vet just to make sure everything is okay. This dietary imbalance caused by eating only one type of food, maybe because there are underlying health problems.
Dogs Who Only Eat Chicken Could Have Health Issues
We all know dogs have quirky personalities, and their eating habits are as different as they are, but as loving dog owners, we all want to make sure they are healthy. The foods we give them are one of the best ways to do this.
Some dogs suffer from partial anorexia. This is where your dog will only eat very small amounts (barely what it needs), or only eat one thing like chicken and turn their nose up at everything else.
There are a variety of reasons why this could be the case:
- Your dog has become picky: You’ll need to consider why this has happened. Has someone been feeding them tasty treats? Is there a better option than standard dog food they have become accustomed to? Are they getting more human food than dog food?
- Psychological issue: Dogs are sensitive to change, so consider if there has been a change recently, like a new pet, someone new has moved in, you’ve moved to a new home, or anything else that’s different in your dog’s life. Chicken may be a bit of comfort food for them.
- Health conditions: Your dog may have a viral infection in their digestive system, a parasite in the stomach, or many other gastrointestinal problems. Maybe chicken is the only thing they can eat that doesn’t make it worse, or make them feel sick.
- Dental problem: Chicken is soft and doesn’t contain fillers like some other dog foods. If your dog has a toothache or a rotten tooth, it may be that chicken is the only thing that doesn’t make it painful to chew.
Some Healthy Dogs May Be Fine With Just Chicken Short Term
Opinions vary, but some experts don’t see a problem with a dog eating just chicken, as long as they are getting all of the nutrients they need.
If you have eliminated any health or psychological issues, you can get away with a chicken diet in some circumstances. In this case, your dog may just start eating other things after a period of time.
Chicken is a wonderful source of protein for dogs, but there are some considerations if it’s the only thing your dog will eat.
- Raw chicken is often considered to be unsafe for dogs due to the bacteria it contains. Cooked, unseasoned chicken is safe and tasty. Poach, grilled, or baked is fine.
- Remove all bones to avoid choking. Be thorough and make sure you get all of them.
- Some dogs are allergic to chicken, so you should determine it’s safe for your pooch.
- Chicken may not be as filling as other ‘padded out’ dog foods, so be wary you don’t feed your dog too much and cause weight problems because you give them more to fill them up.
A Long Term Chicken Only Diet May Not Be Healthy
Although we have already discussed it, chicken is a good source of protein short term, but may not be sufficient long term as nutrients slowly deplete from their bodies.
Dogs require a balanced diet, not just for energy, but to maintain health and avoid disease. They need a lot of vitamins, just like us, and they get that through food.
For a truly balanced diet, chicken should only make up around 10 percent of chicken. This is to ensure your dog has a balanced caloric intake.
Chicken has a great treat, and can be used for training purposes, or added to other ingredients. If your dog is crazy for chicken, they may eat around everything else to get the chicken, but that will have to be addressed if it happens.
I grind all the meat together sometimes to make sure my dog eats everything because she can’t physically split it all up. (I do get the disappointed look from her though)
Add Other Things to Your Dog’s Chicken Diet
There are foods you can add to your dog’s chicken meal slowly to add in nutrients. It may also get your dog to accept other foods.
- Carrot: I dice this very small and add it to the meat. Carrots contain vitamin A, which is good for the immune system and their skin and coat.
- Green Beans: You can cook or feed them raw. Just make sure you chop them up to avoid choking. If you cook them, don’t season them. Apart from a lot of vitamins, green beans contain calcium.
- Salmon and Tuna: Fish is as good for dogs as it is for humans. Fish will benefit their coats, skin and immune system.
- Rice: This is often in store bought dog food anyway. Cooked white rice is best. Some dogs have trouble digesting brown rice, and it may cause stomach upsets.
There are a lot more foods a dog can eat, but I find the best thing to do is ask my vet before I add anything new in to their diet that I’m not sure about.
They May Be a Picky Eater and Prefer Chicken
Small breeds tend to be picky eaters. This can be a problem if your remedy is to feed ‘people’ food like poached or shredded chicken, and they get so used to it, it’s all they eat.
Reintroduce balanced, quality dog food and ensure their diet is consistent as possible.
Dog food can be expensive, but get the best quality you can afford. Some store bought dog foods can be bland and unappealing. It’s best to buy the best variety you can manage. If your dog refuses to eat it, they are probably holding out for their chicken.
Most dogs will give in when they realize they aren’t going to get anything else.
If good pet food is too expensive for you, you can make your own. Simply boil a whole chicken or pieces of chicken. Remove cooked meat from the bones and add vegetables and rice, and any dog specific supplements.
Over time, try using whatever meat is on special like pork, lamb or beef.
Be wary of canned meat manufactured for humans because this may contain large amounts of salt.
Ways to Help a Dog Who is a Picky Eater
Sometimes when dogs are picky eaters and we find what they actually like, we keep giving them the food we know they will eat. It’s only natural that we do this because we want to keep our dogs happy and well-fed.
It could be one of the reasons they start to eat only one thing like chicken. There are ways for you to help them to eat a variety of other foods.
Remove the meal if they don’t eat it
If your dog doesn’t eat their dinner in 15 to 20 minutes, remove it and don’t offer them food again until the next morning. You will feel bad, but often by the time morning comes, the dog realizes they better eat or they’ll miss out.
Change to a nicer meal
Sometimes your dog just doesn’t like the taste of a brand, style, or type of meat.
Try to avoid only feeding them the one thing they do like because that may cause them to refuse to eat anything else. Try to maintain variety and choice.
Use a food topper
Use salmon oil, bone broth, or any other taste your dog loves. Stir it into the whole meal. That way your cheeky dog won’t just lick the topper and leave the rest.
Exercise your dog
Make sure your dog burns lots of energy. The hungrier they are after exercise, the more likely they are to eat whatever you put in front of them.
No table scraps
Your dog should have their own bowl and eat their own meal from it. As tempting as it can be to give in to their demands, feeding them your prepared food may make them decide they don’t want their own, and they will only share yours.
They may then decide they’ll only eat their favorite part of what you eat, like chicken. Be consistent. They should have a bowl they eat from, and if they don’t eat it, they don’t get to share yours.
Warm their meal up slightly
Older dogs who start to be fussy often appreciate a slightly warmer meal. This is because heating the meal releases some more flavor and smell.
Feed your dog at regular times
Dogs love routine. Often dogs will go off their food if their routine changes. This causes you to offer different foods, and when they eat something, you tend to keep offering it to them because you know they’ll eat it.
Keep your dog’s food routine as close to the same as possible.
Some Breeds Are Pickier Eaters Than Others
Don’t worry if your dog is a fussy eater. Some humans are as well. The problem arises when your dog becomes so fussy, they’ll only eat one thing.
Some breeds just tend to be fussier than others.
- Bichon Frise:
- Cocker Spaniel
- Boston Terrior
Too Much Variety May Make Your Dog a Picky Eater
Looking at the supermarket shelves, it sometimes looks like there is as much variety for dog food as there is for people.
You can inadvertently cause your dog to become a fussy eater if you take advantage of that incredible amount of variety. Too much of a good thing may make them crave the one thing that they like the most. Then they refuse anything else due to lack of consistency and just a few choices.
A small variety of food, mixed with consistent meal times will hopefully keep your pet well-fed and problem-free with food.
Senior Dogs May Choose to Only Eat Chicken
Not all dietary changes in your dog are bad. There could be a good reason why they suddenly want to eat a certain food.
As dogs get older, their tastes change just like ours. They might also change their eating habits for other reasons.
They might find chewing dry food hard on their teeth, so they only want to eat softer food like chicken. If some food hurts to eat it, or it causes their stomach to become upset, dogs will eat the food that is soft on their teeth and jaw or doesn’t upset their digestive system.
This is why it’s best to seek a vet’s advice and ask for a check-up. If your dog only wants chicken, and you try to get it to eat dry or chewy food, you may be doing more harm than good. They might stop eating all together.
Take Control of Your Dog’s Diet
If you’re concerned that your dog won’t ever stop eating just chicken, let’s look at some points that will help you to get them back on a healthy diet with sufficient minerals, vitamins, and calories.
- Remember, you are in control. We all love to treat our dogs well, but ultimately you decide on what they eat, not them. Ease other foods into their meals slowly, but surely.
- If your dog won’t eat their meal with ingredients other than chicken, don’t worry. They won’t let themselves starve. It may take a little while, but a hungry dog will tuck into food besides chicken.
- If a chicken-only diet doesn’t provide your dog with enough nutrients, over time they will get sick and likely need a visit to a vet. That generally costs a lot. So, buying good quality food will actually save you money in the long run.
A Chicken-Only Diet Doesn’t Benefit Your Dog In Many Ways
- Prevent sickness and disease: A good diet helps a dog’s immune system to fight any nasties.
- Extends life expectancy: A balanced diet ensures your pooch stays around longer.
- Digestive Health: A digestive system not operating at its peak can cause dogs to become ill long term.
- Sleep: A dog that has a well balanced diet sleeps much better,so has a more restorative rest.
- A healthy coat: You can’t downplay the importance of diet on your dog’s coat and skin.
The Bottom Line
If your dog only eats chicken, you just never know if there are long term issues occurring. If you’ve tried to address the issue, seek medical advice from a vet just to be sure there are no underlying problems causing the dietary choice.
When your dog has no underlying health problems, a chicken-only diet may be okay for the short term, but over time your dog may not get the nutrients they require for long term health.
Make an effort to introduce other healthy foods into your dog’s diet over time. You may need to do this incrementally. You may even need to sneak a few small bits in at a time.
Some breeds are more inclined to be picky eaters, and there are a lot of ways you can encourage them to be more adventurous with their meals. Once your dog starts to enjoy different tastes and textures, they shouldn’t think twice about something other than chicken in their bowl.
Try to keep the alternatives to a small number. Offering too many different foods to your dog has the opposite effect than what you’re aiming for. A dog is likely to become picky if they are offered too many choices.
You are in control of your dog’s diet. They may like to think they are, but it’s you who ultimately decides. Be kind and patient, and you’ll get your dog onto a more balanced diet in no time.
A balanced diet is more likely to keep your dog healthy for a long time, and that’s the most important thing.
Writer: Craig Taylor