Boiled chicken is a staple of bland diets, often used temporarily when dogs are sick or dealing with gastrointestinal upset like diarrhea. It can also be used as a mouth-watering treat for good boys or good girls.
Although boiling chicken for dogs seems like a straightforward task, you always want to be careful when you’re caring for a pup with digestive problems or handling raw poultry. Therefore, we asked expert veterinarians to share the advice they give their own clients in similar situations.
Here’s your complete guide for how to boil chicken for dogs, with answers to all of the questions that could arise throughout the process.
Boiled Chicken for Dogs: When to Use It
There’s a range of scenarios when you might want to prepare boiled chicken for your dog, but the most common one is when he’s not feeling well. Senior dogs can suffer from vomiting or diarrhea for a variety of reasons, ranging from simple dietary indiscretion to an underlying hormonal imbalance.
Unfortunately, vomiting and diarrhea are non-specific signs and can be linked to a variety of gastrointestinal problems or diseases, says Dr. Alex Schechter, a Detroit-based veterinarian. A new dog food, spoiled food, or intestinal parasites are just a few examples of what could be upsetting your dog’s sensitive stomach.
No matter the situation, it’s stressful, and you want to give your buddy the best care possible.
The first step is always to consult with a veterinarian to determine whether you need to come in for a check-up. In many cases, the first move they’ll advise is switching to a bland or “beige” diet for a few days.
“There are bland prescription diets, or owners can use boiled chicken and white rice if they want to cook at home,” says Dr. Schechter. This easy-on-the-stomach combination can help calm a dog’s intestinal tract and ensure he’s getting the nutrition he needs to make a full recovery from minor ailments.
Just keep in mind that feeding dogs a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice is not meant to be a long-term meal plan because it’s not a complete and balanced diet. Any dog that eats chicken and rice for a prolonged period of time is at nutritional deficiencies, which may negatively impact their health. In senior dogs, changes in nutrient absorption may make this approach even more risky. Follow your veterinarian’s directions. If your dog does not make improvements on a bland diet after a few days, make sure to call your vet and schedule an appointment.
But boiled chicken doesn’t just have to be reserved for when your dog isn’t feeling well. If your tail-wagger paces the kitchen while you make chicken stock, you also know chicken is a high-value and healthy treat you can use as positive reinforcement when dog training.
How Long to Boil Chicken for Dogs
First thing’s first: it’s important to know your cooking time – whether you’re boiling frozen chicken for dogs or chicken from the fridge. Here’s your quick guide.
- Boneless chicken breasts: 12-15 minutes
- Chicken tenders: 12-15 minutes
- Chicken thighs: 12-15 minutes
- Ground chicken: 15-20 minutes
- Frozen chicken: Thaw first or boil 1.5x longer than usual cooking time
Keep in mind that exactly how long you should boil chicken can vary depending on the size and thickness of the cut. To make sure it’s thoroughly done, insert a food thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken. Once it’s up to 165°F, it’s gotten hot enough to kill pathogens that cause foodborne illness (like Salmonella) and it’s safe to serve.
Now that you’ve got your boiling time down, let’s get that chicken cooked.
How to Boil Chicken for Dogs: 10 Steps
Not a top chef? No worries! Learning how to boil chicken for dogs is easy, and we’ve got you covered every step of the way.
To boil chicken for your dog, you’ll need:
- A pot or saucepan
- Colander or strainer
- Cutting board
- Knife or fork for shredding
Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies, follow these instructions:
Step 1: Put chicken in a pot, cover it with water, and place it on the stove.
Step 2: Cover the pot, turn it up to high heat, and bring it to a boil.
Step 3: Let it cook according to the appropriate cooking time referenced above.
Step 4: Turn off the heat and drain the chicken in a colander.
Step 5: Place the chicken on a cutting board and check it with a kitchen thermometer to ensure it reaches 165°F.
Step 6: Allow the chicken to cool to room temperature.
Step 7: Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces or shred it with a fork.
Step 8: Set aside enough chicken to feed your dog and place the leftovers in an airtight, sealed container.
Step 9: Serve according to instructions from your veterinarian.
Step 10: Store the rest in the fridge.
Feeding Boiled Chicken to Dogs
Once you’ve learned how to boil chicken for dogs, it’s time to serve it up to your pup.
If you’re giving your dog boiled chicken as part of a bland diet, follow your veterinarian’s instructions. Dr. Ole Alcumbrac, owner and chief of staff at White Mountain Animal Hospital in Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona, recommends mixing white rice or plain pasta with chicken in a 2:1 starch to chicken ratio such as ⅓ cup of chicken and ⅔ cup of rice.
Generally, you want to start reintroducing food to your dog very slowly. Some veterinarians may even advise no food — just water — for the first 12 to 24 hours. Dr. Alcumbrac suggests going up by 1 tablespoon increments per day for 1 to 3 days. “The goal here is just to get the gut moving without overloading it,” he says. “Once his stomach starts to settle a bit more back to normal, you can then wean him back onto his dog food.”
Otherwise? If you’re preparing boiled chicken as a special reward or training tool for your dog, you’ve made a good choice. “It’s high in protein and low in fat, making it an ideal treat for dogs,” says Dr. Schechter.
But the key word is treat. It’s always best for the majority of your dog’s diet to come from a nutritionally-balanced dog food. Limit your pup to 2-3 small chicken pieces or ¼ to ⅓ cup of boiled chicken for every 20 pounds of bodyweight, says Dr. Schechter.
Boiling Chicken for Dogs: Tips and Advice
As you prep chicken for your dog, these pro tips can help make your life easier and ensure you’re giving your pup the best meal for their special needs.
Keep it simple. Bland chicken is a nightmare when you’re cooking for friends, but it’s ideal for our four-legged friends. Never add any spices, oil, butter, garlic, onion, or other ingredients to boiled chicken, as they could make your dog’s GI problem worse.
Choose slim cuts. Opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts or lean ground chicken when you can since they’re lower in fat and will be easier to digest.
Check the label. If you’re buying prepackaged chicken from the grocery store like shredded or cubed chicken, read the ingredients list to make sure it’s not marinated or pre-seasoned.
Take steps to avoid getting sick. Raw chicken is sometimes contaminated with foodborne bacteria like Salmonella. To protect yourself and your pooch, use separate surfaces for raw and cooked chicken, use a food thermometer to ensure an internal temperature of 165°F, and wash your hands frequently.
Throw bones out. If you’re using bone-in chicken, strip the meat off carefully and don’t let your dog anywhere near the bones. Since they’re quick to splinter, chicken bones can be a choking hazard or puncture the GI tract – not what you want!
Warm it up. Serve chicken or boiled chicken and rice for dogs warm, just as you’d like it. “This increases the aromatic factor and makes it more palatable,” says Dr. Alcumbrac. You can also add a little low-sodium chicken broth to up the flavor.
Use within a few days. Cooked chicken is safe to store in your fridge and eat for 3 days. After that, toss it out or freeze it for up to 4 months.
If you’re worried, contact your veterinarian. Most uncomplicated gut problems resolve on their own in 1 to 3 days. If your dog continues to have distressing symptoms or gets worse, don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian for help. Remember: it’s normal to be concerned, and you deserve professional support. An upset stomach can indicate an underlying medical condition, especially in senior dogs, so it’s best to reach out to your veterinarian if your dog’s signs are not resolving rapidly.