Rotisserie chickens are wildly popular in the United States. Many grocery stores sell them as a way to entice customers into the store knowing that people will also pick up other items once they are inside. It’s probably not surprising to learn that dogs also love rotisserie chicken when they can get it. If you were wondering if dogs can eat rotisserie chicken safely? We’ll tell you in our brief guide below.
Rotisserie chicken is basically a whole chicken placed on a turning spit over a heat source. Traditionally, the chicken is cooked over an open flame. However, commercial versions of the rotisserie chicken often use electric or gas-powered heating elements.
Chickens used for rotisserie cooking for commercial sources are often injected with brine to retain more moisture. Other ingredients may be added to increase flavor. One of Walmart’s rotisserie chickens is labeled that it is garlic-flavored (a “no” for dogs). It also contains maltodextrin, sodium phosphates, and natural flavor in addition to seasonings and spices such as salt, onion, garlic, and paprika.
Both brine and phosphates are used for some rotisserie chickens as preservatives and to help protect the meat from bacterial growth.
These additives are only present in very small amounts so they are unlikely to cause problems for most people (or dogs) unless there is a pre-existing condition. You can usually avoid most of them by not eating the skin.
Here’s a look at a typical rotisserie chicken with spices added: 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of rotisserie chicken is made up of 0 percent carbohydrates, 64 percent fats, and 36 percent protein. It’s a good source of protein, phosphorus, niacin and other B vitamins and a very good source of selenium. However, it is high in cholesterol, sodium, and contains trans fat.
That 100-gram serving contains 260 calories, 18.6 grams of total fat, 4.9 grams of saturated fat, and 23.2 grams of protein. But, it has 584 grams of sodium – one-fourth of the daily value of sodium for an adult human. A dog that weighs 30 pounds only needs 100 mg of sodium per day.
If you’re going to eat rotisserie chicken, leaving the skin off will reduce the calories. The thigh is highest is calories while the breast meat has the fewest calories. The breast also has the most protein.
You can make your own rotisserie chicken if you have a rotisserie oven. In that case you can control the ingredients. You will need to make sure that you buy a whole chicken that doesn’t have any solutions (such as brine or other preservatives) added.
Rotisserie chicken is generally cooked in a rotisserie oven these days. However, you could use a barbecue spit to cook the chicken or cook the chicken outdoors campfire-style. In that case you would need to make sure that you don’t add any sauces or dry rubs to the chicken.
If you are cooking the rotisserie chicken over an open flame, such as in a barbecue or at a camp site, you will need to make sure the flames don’t burn your chicken. The roasting spit will need to turn steadily or be turned regularly if you are turning it by hand.
If any parts of your rotisserie chicken are burned, charred, or blackened, you need to cut them off. Cooking meats at high temperatures or for long periods of time can cause a reaction in the food leading to HCAs (heterocyclic amines). In high amounts, HCAs appear to cause cancer in animals so it’s best to avoid them.
The fat drippings from your rotisserie chicken cooked over an open flame can also create PAHs (polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons). When the smoke floats around the meat while its cooking, those PAHs, which appear to be carcinogenic, can be transferred to the meat.
Using a rotisserie oven eliminates most of these worries.
Pre-cooked rotisserie chicken is generally less expensive than other kinds of chicken you can buy. You can bring it home and be ready to eat it in just a few minutes which makes it very convenient. It’s also healthier than eating most fried chicken or chicken nuggets.
Rotisserie chicken is also lower in calories and fat than fast food chicken or fried chicken from restaurants.
Can dogs have rotisserie chicken?
Yes, dogs can have some parts of a rotisserie chicken. The meat from the chicken is an excellent source of protein. It’s also low in calories and fat.
There are some parts of the rotisserie chicken that you should not allow your dog to eat.
The cooked bones from the chicken are considered to be harmful to dogs. Cooked bones, in general, are not suitable for dogs. That’s because cooking makes them brittle. If your dog eats them, the bones can easily snap and become jagged. They can pose a choking risk. The can also puncture your dog’s throat or digestive tract. So, no cooked rotisserie bones for your dog.
The skin from the rotisserie chicken is full of fat and calories. Your dog is better off eating only the meat from the chicken and avoiding the skin, even though it’s very tasty. Eating too much fat can be harmful to your dog and lead to pancreatitis.
Most rotisserie chicken also has various kinds of seasoning on the skin to make it more flavorful. Removing the skin before you allow your dog to eat some of the meat is a good way to avoid some of the extra salt and other additives used on the chicken.
Pancreatitis in dogs occurs when the pancreas (a small organ that sits behind the small intestine and the stomach) is inflamed and swollen. This can occur if your dog eats too much fat and the enzymes in the pancreas over-react. The purpose of the pancreas is to help dogs digest food and regulate their blood sugar.
Signs that a dog may have pancreatitis include:
- Hunched back
- Repeated vomiting (either several times within a few hours or periodically over several days)
- Pain or distention of the abdomen (dog appears uncomfortable or bloated)
- Loss of appetite
If you notice these symptoms, you need to contact your veterinarian. Pancreatitis can be life-threatening.
Dogs that have kidney issues or chronic kidney disease (CKD) may need to pass on eating rotisserie chicken. That’s because many rotisserie chickens have phosphate additives as preservatives. Healthy kidneys can remove extra phosphorus from your blood. However, if you or your dog have chronic kidney disease, the kidneys are not able to remove the phosphorus as well. Too much phosphorus can lead to changes in the body that remove calcium from the bones and make them weak.
If you are concerned about some of these additives, you can make your own rotisserie chicken. You will have full control over the ingredients used when you make your own.
How much rotisserie chicken can you give your dog?
The meat from rotisserie chicken is a good source of quality protein that is low in calories and fat. It has zero carbohydrates.
As noted above, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of rotisserie chicken has about 260 calories. That amount is usually plenty for any dog.
You can shred the chicken and add it to your dog’s regular meal.
Rotisserie chicken can also be used in a broth for your dog if he is recovering from an illness (check with your veterinarian). You can mix the chicken meat with rice for a soothing meal.
How often can you give your dog rotisserie chicken?
Due to the sodium content in most commercial rotisserie chicken, we don’t recommend that you give your dog this treat every day.
Many commercially-cooked rotisserie chickens have been brined or soaked in a salt solution. Removing the skin will reduce the sodium/salt to some extent but a chicken that has been soaked in brine for a couple of days will absorb some of the sodium into the meat. Your dog will get some extra sodium when he eats the meat from rotisserie chicken.
If your dog eats rotisserie chicken occasionally, this extra sodium should not be harmful in small amounts.
As long as your dog does not have any kidney problems or other health issues that would be a problem, he could eat a small amount of rotisserie chicken meat once a week.
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about giving your dog rotisserie chicken.
Rotisserie chicken is convenient, relatively inexpensive, and delicious. Most dogs enjoy it just as much as people do. You do need to use some caution about giving it to your dog because of the cooked bones and additives. We recommend that you avoid giving it to any dog that has kidney problems because of the phosphates that are often used as preservatives. The sodium content also tends to be high in rotisserie chicken so even though the protein is good for your dog, only give him a small amount occasionally.