There are three main reasons a dog will only eat cooked chicken. They’re either a picky eater, aren’t feeling well, or there’s been a change to their normal routine. The best way to get your dog to eat their regular food again is to continue feeding kibble and wait it out. They’ll eventually eat the kibble.
Help! My dog won’t eat anything other than cooked chicken. He used to love his food and seemed like a bottomless pit for kibble when he was a puppy. Now he won’t touch it. Is this bad? Is he sick? What should I do?
Why is My Dog Doing This?
It’s very common for dogs to develop odd eating behaviors. As you’ll see below, this is most often caused by our own misguided love for our pets. However, it’s important to make sure it isn’t because of an underlying health issue or some other change to his usual routine before you try to tackle the problem.
Below are the top three reasons dogs will only eat cooked chicken.
Chances are, your dog has a bad habit and is testing you. He’s picky, and knows that if he waits long enough, you will give him that delicious chicken instead of his boring old bowl of kibble. The pickiness is only made worse when you give in, time after time.
Think back to how this started. Was he begging for a piece of chicken off your plate one day instead of eating his own dinner, and you gave in?
Maybe at some point you got worried that he wasn’t eating enough or thought he might be bored of the same old food day-in and day-out. So, you started supplementing his food with chicken, hoping that it would entice him to eat more. Only to get to a point where the chicken toppers on his bowl were the only thing he would eat.
If this is the case, you’ve got a picky eater, and it can be fixed.
If this is a relatively new change in his behavior, there is a chance that your dog isn’t feeling well.
He may have an upset stomach or be in pain, so he really does need that ‘something extra’ to convince him to eat.
Look for other signs that your dog is sick. If he is not acting like his usual energetic self, is not interested in his other treats, or is showing signs of aggression when you try to get near him, it’s time to take him to the vet to get checked out.
Change in Routine
Did you recently change out your dog’s food? This could also be the cause. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or a food allergy, or just plain doesn’t like this new food you’re giving him, he might refuse to eat it.
Try switching back to your old food or a different high-quality brand, but make sure to transition slowly.
Consider other changes at home as well. Sometimes bringing a second dog home can throw things off. If one dog is more dominant and bullies the other one away from their food bowl, he may learn that the best way to get along is to not go near the food bowl at all.
This sort of behavior should be stopped as quickly as possible.
If you don’t see signs of illness, and there haven’t been any recent changes in your dog’s routine, then he’s probably just developed a bad habit of being a picky eater and is trying to wait you out.
Getting Your Dog to Eat His Regular Food
You need to break the bad habit. I know you’re thinking “that’s easier said than done”, but it’s in your dog’s best interest. It’s not cruel, it’s just tough love.
Stop feeding your dog the chicken and stay strong. Ignore those big puppy-dog eyes, give him his usual bowl of food and nothing else.
If he refuses to eat entirely, continue to wait him out. Dogs can typically go up to 3 days without eating, but most will give up much sooner than that.
He is smart and is used to waiting for you to break, but eventually, when he realizes that the chicken isn’t coming, he will cave in to his hunger and eat what’s available.
Continue with this new routine for several weeks, and he will start to understand this is now the new normal.
Keep His Meals Interesting
If you still feel bad feeding your dog the same boring food every day, you can change it up every once in a while. But wait until this picky eating habit is taken care of first.
You can try a new, high-quality food brand every couple of months if you want to keep things interesting for him, but make sure you do it gradually each time.
Try slowly increasing the amount of the new type of food in his bowl each day for a week until you have entirely phased out the old food. This will help your dog adjust and minimize any digestive issues.
You can also try adding wet food to their bowl, either mixed in with the dry or as an occasional meal topper. But pay attention to the total calories you’re feeding and don’t let the picky eating habits resurface.
Is It Bad for a Dog to Only Eat Cooked Chicken?
Yes. Eating cooked chicken alone is not a well-balanced diet and can lead to malnutrition.
By eating only chicken, as tasty as that might be for your dog, he isn’t going to get all the nutrients he needs to stay healthy.
Dogs need many different vitamins and minerals to maintain their health. Depriving them of those nutrients can lead to disease.
This is especially critical in puppies who rely on a well-balanced diet for proper growth.
Can I Add Other Ingredients to Make it a Well-Balanced Diet?
Yes, but it’s difficult and time-consuming.
Many people who decide to cook a homemade diet for their dogs are still unknowingly depriving them of key nutrients.
It takes a lot of time to research and create an ideal diet for your dog. Time that commercial brands have already put in with the help of veterinarians and food scientists.
It is much easier to rely on their expertise to provide at least the foundation for your dog’s diet and supplement it with small amounts of other healthy foods.
Not all commercial brands are created equal though, so make sure you are picking a high-quality brand.
If you still want to explore cooking homemade food for your dog, we recommend consulting your veterinarian first for their expert opinion.
What’s The Best Way to Serve Cooked Chicken to My Dog?
Everything in moderation. Chicken is an excellent source of protein for your dog, but it’s recommended that it only be added to their diet in small quantities.
No more than 10% of their daily calories should be from treats, including things like chicken or other meal toppers.
This ensures that most of their caloric intake still comes from that commercial food (or very well researched home-cooked food) and that their diet stays balanced.
Skinless chicken breast is the best option if you want to feed chicken to your dog. It should be cooked with no spices or seasoning and without additional fat from butter or oil. Yes, it sounds bland, but they will still go crazy for it.
Never include any bones in the meat you feed to your dog, and although your dog can handle raw meat, cooked is still safer. Cooking the chicken guarantees that any bacteria is killed and reduces the risk of illness for both you, preparing his food, and your dog.
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