Can Dogs Eat Canned Chicken?

Remember the last time you completely forgot about restocking your dog food supply and had to craft a DIY meal for your dog using ingredients from your fridge or food cupboard? As a responsible dog owner, it is customary to be hesitant when introducing new foods to your dog, especially those not formulated explicitly for dogs. However, sometimes you need to be creative. For example, if you found canned chicken, you should consider preparing it for your dog.

But, can dogs eat canned chicken? Yes, dogs can eat canned chicken but not every day and not in excess amounts. However, there is one more caveat – before serving, you will have to put the canned chicken in a strainer and rinse it thoroughly. Although the chicken itself is healthy and dog-friendly, the excess amount of sodium in canned products can pose a health hazard for dogs.

In this article, we will review the benefits of chicken for dogs and the risks associated with canned chicken versions. We will also explain how to transform the canned chicken into a dog-friendly meal. Finally, we will provide helpful tips on human foods that can be used as emergency alternatives for dog food. 

Can Canned Chicken Hurt Dogs?

Since chicken is the most common ingredient in commercially available dog food formulas, it is easy to assume that canned chicken is suitable for dogs. However, things are not as straightforward as one can imagine.

Canned chicken and sodium toxicity

The primary risk associated with canned chicken is the high sodium content. Dogs cannot handle high sodium levels. In smaller amounts, sodium can make dogs extra thirsty and in need of frequent potty breaks.

Sadly, in more significant amounts, sodium causes intoxication. Sodium poisoning in dogs is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention. Dogs with sodium poisoning exhibit signs and symptoms like:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Ataxia (lack of coordination)
  • Tremors
  • Seizures.

Canned chicken and diarrhea

Another concern related to canned chicken is the risk of diarrhea. All canned foods can potentially trigger diarrhea, especially in dogs that are not used to eating such foods.

Sudden diet changes can upset the stomach and disrupt the normal digestion processes resulting in diarrhea episodes. Luckily, the diarrhea bout is transient and often self-limiting.

Canned chicken and cancer

Finally, canned chicken contains additives. Some additives are harmless, but others are potentially dangerous, especially if consumed regularly. Certain artificial additives are linked with increased cancer risks in both dogs and humans.

However, for these additives to exert their carcinogenic effects, they would have to be fed extremely often and in significant amounts.

How To Make A Dog-Friendly Meal With Canned Chicken?

Just pouring the canned chicken directly from the can into the dog food bowl is not the healthiest option. Because of the high sodium content, the canned chicken will have to be thoroughly rinsed.

Luckily, the procedure is simple – just put the content of the chicken can inside a strainer or colander and place it under running water. Once the rinsing part is completed, let the chicken dry. The rinsing does not eradicate the sodium, but it significantly reduces its amount.

To ensure a complete meal, you can mix the rinsed and dried chicken with other dog-friendly pantry foods and ingredients such as plain rice, canned baby food, or mashed potatoes.

How Much Canned Chicken Can I Feed My Dog?

Simply put, a 10-pound dog would need around three-quarters of a cup of chicken meat per day. If the canned chicken is mixed with something else, the meat amount can be slightly reduced. Keep in mind that this is just a general guideline – your dog’s nutritional needs may vary significantly based on factors like age, breed, lifestyle, and overall health.

As for the serving frequency, it is not recommended to feed your dog canned chicken more than once or twice every two weeks. In simpler terms, the canned chicken should be saved as an emergency reserve.         

Emergency Dog Food Alternatives

If you run out of dog food and do not want to use canned chicken or your dog is allergic to chicken, there are still plenty of dog-friendly options in your pantry.

Of course, this does not mean you can share your Chinese dinner leftovers with your dog. However, you can put the cooking apron on and get creative.

Before going through the most popular choices, we should emphasize that they should only be used as emergency options and not fed regularly.

Plain rice

Rice is one of the most widespread human foods for dogs. Rice is more than an emergency food – many dog food formulas contain rice, and dogs with sensitive tummies can be fed rice daily. Rice is also an excellent choice for dogs with diarrhea – the starches in rice bind the excess water, thus promoting a normal stool consistency.

To ensure you provide your dog with healthy and dog-friendly rice, there is a trick – the rice needs to be served plain. Dogs cannot handle salt and spices and prefer their rice bowl plain. As for the rice type, all forms are nutritious and healthy for dogs.

Canned fish

Another dog food alternative is canned fish. In addition to being a lean protein source, fish contains various vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. When it comes to dogs, canned fish preserved in water is a better choice than fish preserved in oil.

However, if you have a can of oil-preserved fish, you can still make it dog-friendly through thorough rinsing. The rinsing will also remove the excess sodium levels. To ensure a complete meal, mix the canned fish with plain rice or potato puree.

Canned pumpkin

Pumpkin is packed with healthy nutrients and fiber, which are great for the dog’s digestive system. Pumpkin is a simple home remedy for dogs with tummy issues – it can be used to treat and prevent constipation.

If feeding canned pumpkin to your dog, it is advisable to use plain and, if possible, organic canned pumpkin puree. Keep in mind that canned pumpkin is not the same as canned pumpkin pie. The pie version contains added sugars and spices that can be harmful to your dog.

Peanut butter

Who does not love peanut butter? As a pantry staple in many households, peanut butter makes a great dog food alternative. Peanut butter is a common ingredient in many store-bought and homemade dog treats. Peanut butter is nutritionally dense and will keep your dog satiated.

Before serving your dog peanut butter, you should check two things:

  • salt content – heavily salted peanut butter versions are not the ideal option for dogs
  • artificial sweeteners – especially xylitol which is toxic to dogs.

In simple words, the peanut butter should be unsalted and xylitol-free.

Baby food

Baby food is an excellent choice for dogs because it is made of nutritious yet easily digestible ingredients. Plus, since formulated for a sensitive age category, baby foods do not contain harmful additives.

Baby food formulas are usually a pureed mixture of meat and vegetables or grains. Sometimes they can contain whole meat chunks –feature dogs are pretty fond of. 

The only thing you need to check before serving your dog canned baby food is whether the formula contains garlic or onions (these ingredients are toxic to dogs). Garlic and onion are not particularly common in baby foods, but it is safer to err on the side of caution.


Although canned chicken is not the first dog food choice for regular use, it can be used as a dog food alternative in emergencies if adequately prepared. Traditional chicken meat is the foundation of canine nutrition – every dog food manufacturer has at least one formula with chicken as ingredient number one.

The problem with canned chicken is the high sodium content, which once again can be avoided through proper preparation. To make the alternative dog meal even more appealing, you can mix the rinsed canned chicken with plain rice or some baby food.


Can I feed my dog chicken and rice every day?

Although healthy, the combination of chicken and rice is not a substitute for complete and nutritionally balanced dog food. However, since the chicken and rice meal is easy on the stomach is suitable for dogs with digestive troubles, it can be used daily but only if enriched with a dog food supplement rich in vitamins and minerals.

Is canned chicken healthy?

Chicken is healthy, but canned chicken can be tricky. Whether canned chicken is healthy and dog-friendly or not depends on its preparation method – rinsed and de-salted. The feeding frequency is another determining factor – canned chicken is not recommended for everyday use.

Will canned chicken cause diarrhea in my dog?

Some dogs can develop diarrhea after eating canned chicken. The culprit can be the ingredients found in the canned chicken formula. However, sometimes diarrhea can result from a sudden diet change – a dog fed kibble is likely to develop diarrhea if offered anything other than its regular kibble.

Can dogs eat canned chicken soups?

Unlike canned chicken meat, canned chicken soups are not dog-friendly and cannot be transformed into something your dog can safely eat. In addition to being loaded with sodium, canned chicken soups contain powdered garlic and onion, which are highly toxic to dogs.

Can dogs eat canned chicken broth?

Yes, when fed in moderation, canned chicken broth is dog-friendly. Plus, broths are rich in collagen, which positively affects the dog’s joint health. However, before serving canned chicken broth to your dog, check the sodium amount.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!