One food that always brings me right back to childhood is the chicken nugget. It's bite-sized, delicious, and it was always a go-to whenever my family stopped on a road trip or for a quick dinner. For me, chicken nuggets are still a rare treat, but every time I snack on them, my dog comes up next to me, begging for a taste. Is that okay? Can my dog eat chicken nuggets?
What exactly is in a chicken nugget?
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First, let's look at exactly what's in those chicken nuggets we love. We've all probably come across these golden lumps of chicken-y goodness. Long a staple of kids' meals, chicken nuggets are usually a nugget-shaped bit of processed chicken meat deep fried with a golden breading.
While, of course, chicken nuggets do contain chicken and delicious breading, they also contain a lot of other ingredients. A look at the ingredients list of one fast food company's chicken nuggets includes not just chicken, oil and flour, but also dextrose (a sugar additive), "natural flavors", and various phosphates (preservatives).
Can dogs eat chicken nuggets?
In short, no. While on its face, we may think that chicken is itself is fine for dogs, chicken nuggets contain too many ingredients that dogs should avoid, so it's best to keep nuggets out of their diet.
What are the concerns with feeding chicken nuggets to dogs?
Even if you know the full list of ingredients in your chicken nuggets (which sometimes you don't), there are still a number of concerns with feeding them to your dog. One accidental nugget or bite probably won't make them sick, but regularly letting your pup eat them can cause health problems.
High fat content: Because chicken nuggets are typically fried, they tend to have a high fat content. And while our dogs need some fat, too much fat can definitely be a cause for concern. A high fat diet can lead to weight gain in dogs, which can lead to a host of health problems. High fat diets can also contribute to conditions like pancreatitis, gastrointestinal issues, diabetes and other conditions.
Hight salt content: One of the ingredients that makes savory snack foods taste as good as they do is salt, aka sodium, on the nutrition facts. And while salt adds flavor, it makes chicken nuggets and even bigger no-no for our pups. A 33 pound dog only needs 200 milligrams of sodium per day, but just two chicken nuggets have, on average, 180 milligrams of sodium, or basically a full day's worth. If your dog eats too much sodium, it can lead to dehydration, and even high blood pressure in the long term.
Breading: Another element that makes chicken nuggets so delicious is their irresistible coating of golden brown breading. Bread isn't on its face terrible for dogs, but it also isn't beneficial to them. In the long term, it can potentially contribute to weight gain and associated health problems. So it's best to avoid giving your pup bread on a regular basis.
Spices and other additives: The other major problem with chicken nuggets is the fact that we may not always know what is in them. Additives like additional sugars, preservatives and seasonings may not be good for our dogs. It's not uncommon for chicken nuggets to contain garlic powder or onion powder, both of which are toxic to dogs and should be avoided at all costs.
Should I feed chicken nuggets to my dog?
Although getting a hold of a bite of chicken nuggets probably won't harm your dog, it's best to avoid feeding them intentionally.
If you want to add chicken to your dog's diet, it can be a healthy, low-fat protein. Chicken and rice is an often-recommended meal for pups who are having stomach issues. The best way to prepare chicken is to boil plain chicken breast without any salt or other flavoring—sthe natural chicken flavor will be plenty to get your pup excited to chow it all down. And make sure to cook it all the way through! Because it's full of protein, low in fat and healthy for your pup, boiled chicken can be used as an occasional reward and special meal, or as a regular part of their diet.
You should not feed your dog chicken nuggets, but if they accidentally get a hold of one, it probably won't harm them. Chicken nuggets contain high levels of sodium and can contain spices like garlic powder and onion powder, which are toxic to dogs. Want to know more about what your dog can and cannot eat? Check out our list for a great summary.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.