Our canine friends are usually less picky and generally not as smart as humans to know what is or what is not damaging to their health. That’s evident in their habit of sniffing at human food leftovers, scavenging spoiled food chucked into the garbage, or even their poo. We can all agree that dogs that consume whatever they come by are at great risk of health issues, but, can dogs eat chicken left out overnight? Is it by any chance safe?
Dogs may have stronger and highly acidic stomachs when compared to humans, however, ingesting left-out chicken is more harmful than healthy to them. The overnight increase in the bacterial load of the chicken or any wet food is significant enough to cause food poisoning in dogs. As a general rule, you should keep chicken that has been left for longer than two hours out of your Fido’s reach.
Bacteria proliferate at room temperature and any wet food left overnight without freezing will breed bacteria making it unsafe for your dog’s consumption. If your pup is not used to eating chicken, then the left-out chicken may have a greater negative effect on them.
In this article, we will explore the potential risks and dangers associated with feeding dogs chicken that has been left out overnight and provide tips on how to keep your furry friend safe and healthy.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken Left Out Overnight?
Some pet parents think you can feed your dog raw meat or poultry which they surmise will be a more natural diet for them. On a certain level, this may be correct but there is a risk of foodborne infection involved with feeding this to your pup.
Regardless of whether the raw chicken is left out or not, it is already contaminated by harmful bacteria and can be detrimental to your dog’s health. Hence, offering your precious pooch raw food is a decision that may have life-threatening consequences.
The most widespread type of food poisoning is salmonella. The handling of raw chicken should not be done carefully to prevent the contamination of any surfaces or essential dog items like toys, water, and food bowls. Washing your hands is helpful and can reduce contamination during preparation, but it is not foolproof. If you decide to feed your dog raw chicken, it is important to cook it properly to kill any harmful bacteria.
Besides bacterial infection, raw chicken or meat can contain parasites such as tapeworm, trichinella, toxoplasma, and sarcocystis. These conditions are less common with the consumption of raw chicken than food poisoning. However, dogs do not only contact these parasites only through poultry.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Chicken Left Out Overnight?
Cooked chicken that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours should not be fed to dogs. Bacteria can proliferate quickly in wet food that has been left out overnight, increasing the risk of food poisoning for your furry friend. If you would not eat the chicken yourself, it is best to not feed it to your dog, except for food specifically made for dogs.
Also, If the cooked chicken has been refrigerated, it should be safe for your dog to eat for up to three or four days, as long as it has not been left out at room temperature for an extended period of time.
Additionally, the texture and taste of cooked chicken can also change after being left out overnight, making it unappetizing and potentially causing gastrointestinal upsets in dogs. If your dog does eat chicken that has been left out overnight and seems to be experiencing digestive issues, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible.
How Long Should Chicken Be Left Out for Dogs?
You may think feeding your dog leftover chicken from the night before is safe, but it is never a good idea. Any chicken left out for more than two hours is a risk for humans and dogs. There is also a common misconception that it is safe if you leave your chicken out but covered. Your dog can still get food poisoning even if the chicken is covered.
Even slightly off chicken can contain a staggering bacterial load and is unsafe for dogs to consume.
A temperature below 40°F is recommended for safely storing perishable foods as microbial activities increase when the temperature is above that. Foods like meat, fish, dairy, chicken, and eggs are classified as high-risk because they are highly favorable for microbial proliferation. Always stick to the 2-hour rule as instructed by the USDA both yourself and your pooch.
Can Dogs Eat Old or Expired Chicken?
As chicken is highly perishable, it is not advisable to eat old chicken (as in one left out for an extended period of time) because it is obviously spoiled and contains a heavy bacterial load. Even cooking this spoiled chicken will not make it safe because of the presence of heat-resistant bacteria and toxins.
Also, expired dry or canned dog food should not be consumed by your pet. Preservatives in these expired foods usually deteriorate creating room for disease-causing pathogens to thrive. Eating expired chicken can lead to lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea, which can even become life-threatening. Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than humans and cannot break down foods as efficiently.
You can safely store your wet dog food by sealing in an airtight container and refrigerating or freezing it. Freezing dry dog food, though not a necessity, will help prolong the shelf life of the food.
Some of the signs that food has gone bad other than the expiration date are the presence of foul smell, slimy texture, and mold.
No doubt, dogs may have some scavenger instincts. However, the idea that since these domesticated dogs evolved from wolves, they can handle eating rotten meat is nothing but a myth. Do not be a part of owners who may show negligence towards their dog’s feeding habit due to this commonly held belief.
Your dog can quickly develop food poisoning from spoiled food because they have evolved so much from its wolf ancestors. Even though wolves prefer fresh meat still.
Analogically speaking, just like you would not want to get shot because your car is bulletproof, don’t feed your dogs spoiled meat because their gut is ten times as powerful as ours.
Can Dogs Get Food Poisoning from Left Out/Old/ Expired Chicken?
Chicken is a high-risk food because it basically acts as a medium for the multiplication of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Most of these microbes are often eradicated if you cook the chicken properly but when the chicken is then left out, it is reexposed and further accommodates microbial activities.
You can equally get food poisoning from expired food. No spoiled chicken should be served to your dog. The most common etiological agents responsible for foodborne illnesses in dogs include salmonella, E. Coli, Shigella, staphylococcus, Aspergillus, and more.
If your dog has ingested spoiled or left-out chicken, some of the symptoms of food poisoning may show up a few days after. If you notice any concerning symptoms in your dog after consuming left-out chicken, take them to the vet immediately.
Signs of Food Poisoning to Look Out For
You may think your dog has a stomach made of steel and nothing will bother them. After all, you have seen your pup rummage through the trash and eat scraps of thrown-out food with no problems. However, dogs can have food poisoning, just like us. Food poisoning in dogs can have devastating circumstances if not treated in time.
Some of the symptoms of food poisoning in dogs:
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive urination
- Excessive panting
If the food poisoning is severe enough, your dog may have heart palpitations or seizures. Bad chicken can cause many problems for your dog that you would never even suspect. Interestingly, many veterinarians refer to food poisoning in a dog as a “garbage gut.”
It is a way to describe the canine’s proclivity toward eating out of the trash. Food poisoning in people is often more straightforward. It includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, which is why you need to watch your pup for any unusual signs. It is not always that obvious in dogs when they have food poisoning.
What To Do if You Suspect Food Poisoning in Your Dog
While sometimes your dog’s immune system is strong enough to fight off the pathogens causing food poisoning, dogs are still highly susceptible to this condition.
When dealing with food poisoning in dogs, try to identify the contaminated food item, if you can, and keep your dog away from it.
The common symptoms you’ll likely notice are vomiting and diarrhea. Vets often recommend that you take a break from feeding your dog for 24 hours while making sure that they have fresh, clean water available, but do not force them to drink, as it may trigger more vomiting.
Ensure that you contact your vet before trying any home remedies, using any medications, or inducing vomit.
Dogs with severe diarrhea and vomiting are susceptible to dehydration which can be fatal for your canine friend. Hence, it is recommended to seek medical attention early on.
In case of emergency, the ASPCA poison control hotline for Poison Control Facility is (888) 426-4435. They can help you and answer any questions you may have about your dog and food poisoning. Experts are available to talk to you 24 hours a day, every day, whether it is a holiday or not.
But remember, prevention is worth a pound of cure and here are some preventive measures to keep your dog safe from food poisoning:
- Keep trash cans covered
- Throw out questionable foods
- Check all expiration dates on foods
- Always wash your hands when handling chicken
You should also always supervise your dog when they are in the kitchen. Dogs tend to get into things they should not, which is how problems begin.
Dogs should not eat chicken left out overnight; the USDA states that chicken should not be left out for more than two hours. Dogs can get food poisoning like humans. However, it can be more challenging to be able to confirm whether your dog actually has food poisoning in dogs as the symptoms overlap with those of other diseases.
Ultimately, dogs have stronger stomachs than humans but this by no means makes them immune to food poisoning. Hence, only give your pup food freshly prepared with care, and love and they should be properly trained to eliminate bad feeding habits that can be disastrous to their health.