Can dogs eat duck?

Health and Wellbeing

Duck makes a delicious dinner, but unless you’re eating it in pancakes with some spring onion, this tasty treat tends to be kept for special occasions like Christmas. Although we humans don’t eat duck every day, some dog foods contain duck so our pups might be eating it more often than we are!

Can dogs eat duck?

So while we can assume dogs can eat duck, it’s best to check if it’s a safe and healthy meat to feed our furry friends. So can dogs eat duck, and is it a healthy addition to a doggy’s diet?

Can dogs eat duck?

Yes, dogs can eat duck as a tasty treat or as an ingredient in healthy dog food. Duck is perfectly safe for your dog to eat regularly, and it’s a very nutritious protein source even if it isn’t as common as beef or chicken. That’s usually more to do with price though, since duck tends to be more expensive than those other meats.

If you’re cooking a duck to eat at home, you can give a little bit of meat to your dog as long as it’s cooked and kept plain. When you’re cooking duck for dogs, it’s important to roast it for longer to try and render as much fat out of the meat as possible, because too much fat in your dog’s diet can lead to weight gain, chronic colitis, and pancreatitis.

However, most fat in duck is between the meat and the skin, so if you cut this away from the meat it should lower the amount of fat your dog eats. That fat does mean the meat itself is far more flavourful than other types of poultry like turkey, which can make it a much more appetising treat for Fido.

Even though we think of duck as quite rich and fatty meat, it’s actually lower in saturated fat than chicken. In fact, if you roast your duck, the breast meat should have less fat than chicken breast too!

You should make sure you keep that poultry as plain as possible, and avoid adding any butter, oils, spices, or seasonings to your meat if your duck is destined for the dog bowl. This is because butter and oils increase the fat content, whilst many spices and seasonings we humans love can actually make our furry friends sick.

Can dogs eat duck raw?

Dogs can eat duck raw, but it might cause problems. For starters, raw duck will be much fattier because the fat hasn’t been rendered by cooking. This high fat content makes the meat harder for your dog to digest and it can cause problems like gastroenteritis and diarrhoea, as well as increasing their risk of becoming obese or developing pancreatitis.

More worryingly, raw duck, as with any raw food, could be contaminated with pathogens like E. Coli or Salmonella, which can make you and your dog extremely sick.

Can dogs eat duck skin?

Yes, but the high fat content found in duck skin could put your pooch at risk of pancreatitis, as well as all the other problems we’ve listed above.

Can dogs eat duck bones?

Dogs shouldn’t eat duck bones because there is a risk that they will snap or splinter, which can cut your dog’s mouth and tongue, injure their insides, or even pierce their throat or intestines. These internal injuries can put your dog at risk of serious infection like peritonitis.

Bits of broken bone can also be a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.

If you have cooked bones from a duck you’ve eaten, you definitely should not give them to your dog because they are more likely to break and cause injury. You also should avoid giving your dog weight-bearing bones like thigh bones.

There are some bones  your dog can eat, such as raw duck necks, legs, or wings. Chewing these bones can be enriching for dogs and help to clean their teeth, however they still carry the risks of contamination the same as any raw meat, and the same risk of causing injury or illness if swallowed.

Can dogs eat duck eggs?

Yes, dogs can eat duck eggs and they can eat them raw or cooked, but cooked eggs are easier for dogs to digest and don't carry the risk of harmful pathogens like salmonella.

Just like how duck meat has more protein and iron than chicken, duck eggs have more protein and iron compared to chicken eggs! They also contain more vitamin A, vitamin D, omega-3, folate, and choline than a standard chicken egg.

On the downside, duck eggs also have a lot more fat, and they’re much bigger too, so it can be easy to overfeed your dog if you’re using them.

Is duck good for dogs?

Duck is definitely good for dogs, and dogs can have duck every day as part of a balanced diet. It’s an amazing source of protein and amino acids, which your dog needs to eat to be able to make new proteins in their body, like growing muscle and repairing their skin.

As mentioned above, duck is also surprisingly lean once it’s been cooked and provided you cut the fat off. Cooked duck is also very easy for dogs to digest, which means they can absorb more nutrients from the meat, and less food goes to waste and comes out the other end!

A marvellous source of vitamins and minerals

As well as being rich in protein, duck meat is a fantastic source of iron. This helps to prevent anemia and keep your dog’s blood healthy and able to carry oxygen around their body. Duck meat is also full of phosphorus, which your dog needs alongside calcium to be able to maintain strong teeth and bones.

Duck meat is also surprisingly high in omega-3, even though we normally associate that with fish! Omega-3 is really beneficial to dogs, helping to reduce inflammation which can help to improve conditions like arthritis or even settle allergies.

Duck also contains a lot of different vitamins, including several different B-vitamins.

This tasty poultry is packed with B1, B3, and B5 which are vital for your dog’s metabolism, and their body needs it to convert sugars and fats into energy. These vitamins also help to keep your pup’s nerves healthy and working correctly. B3 is also used by your pooch’s body to make a number of different hormones, and it prevents a condition called “black tongue”.

Duck meat also contains lots of B2 which is needed for growth and healthy fur. There’s some B6 which is used by amino acids, and your dog needs to eat plenty of it to prevent problems like anemia, stunted growth, cavities, kidney stones, and poor skin. There’s also B12, which your dog’s body needs to create DNA molecules and new blood cells, and it also helps to keep their nerves healthy and working correctly.

Amazing for allergies

As well as being a nutritional powerhouse, duck is a great protein source for dogs with food sensitivities. Chicken and beef are two of the most common food allergies in the canine world, but they’re also in most dog foods! If your pooch is allergic to a specific meat, like chicken, they could swap to a new food which uses duck as a novel protein source. That means their allergies aren't being triggered, and they’re still getting all the protein and nutrition they need.

On the other hand, it is possible your dog could be allergic to duck. If that’s the case, it’s safe to say they should try another new protein. But duck allergies aren’t nearly as common as other kinds, such as chicken, beef, or soya.

Recap: Can dogs have duck?

Dogs can have duck and this delicious meat is a fantastic protein source to consider giving your dog. It’s highly nutritious and easy for dogs to digest, and perfectly safe for them to eat every day as an ingredient in healthy dog food.

It’s also a fantastic option to feed your dog if they suffer from food sensitivities, as they will get all the protein they need without triggering those annoying allergies.

Even if your dog isn’t allergic to other types of meat, changing up what they eat can make dinnertime more exciting, (and definitely tastier and more enriching than boring brown biscuits every day!)

You can try using healthy food that includes duck just for a change, or have some juicy pieces of roasted duck ready as highly rewarding training treats that’s sure to get your pup's tail wagging!

Dr Andrew Miller BVSc MRCVS

Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS

Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.

Sources
  1. Peritonitis in Dogs MSD Veterinary Manual, Oct 2020
  2. Niacin: key compound in pets’ metabolism Oct 2011