Experts recommend adding chicken and cottage cheese to your dog's food for a surprisingly large number of seemingly contradictory reasons. Low and high fat, high and restricted protein diets all recommend them, and they're suggested for both high performance and extremely sensitive, delicate pooches. So what's up with this?
Low- and high-protein diets recommend chicken and cottage cheese. This seems like a contradiction, but the difference is whether you're using these foods as the main protein source, or adding them to a complete food.
For low-protein diets, the idea is to give your pup smaller-than-average amounts of very high-quality protein -- hence the easily digestible, high protein chicken and cottage cheese. These replace most other meats, animal by-products, kibble and canned food in homemade, low protein diets.
High-protein diets add additional protein sources such as chicken and cottage cheese to a maintenance or growth diet of commercial chow, raising your pup's overall level of protein and the ratio of protein to fats and carbs.
Low-fat canine diets recommend skinless, fat-trimmed chicken and low or no fat cottage cheese as protein sources in homemade diets because they're lower in fat and higher in protein than most other animal-based sources.
High-fat canine diets use intact chicken and whole-milk cottage cheese either as the main protein source in homemade diets, or as additions to commercial foods. These diets aim to increase calories while keeping carbs or protein stable.
Doggies with demanding jobs often need much higher fat and protein than your average couch puptato. Chicken and cottage cheese may be added to their food to boost protein for muscle bulk and repair, and fat for fuel and to increase absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Pups recovering from severe illness or major surgery are often put on a very simple diet with one or two easily digestible protein and fat sources and a simple carb such as white rice. Chicken and cottage cheese are two of the top choices for these recovery diets.
Pooches on elimination diets to seek out the source of a food allergy are often started on these mixtures as well.
A few controversies surround feeding "people food" to your doggy pal. We've all heard it isn't good, but why?
The most common explanation is that commercial diets for dogs are complete and balanced, and additions of human chow will throw off this balance. This isn't necessarily true. Nutrients in dog foods are calculated based on dry weight. When we're talking kibble, we're talking dry food. The dry weight of a "wet" food like chicken or cottage cheese composes a relatively small percentage of the entire diet when served in moderation.
In the case of cottage cheese, it's often pointed out that dogs are, as a whole, lactose intolerant. However, cottage cheese is cultured -- created by lactose-eating bacteria. That means there's very little or none in the final product.
For chicken, the culprits are salmonella and E. coli. While dogs as a group have much more resistance to meat-borne pathogens than we do, some dogs have become quite ill from tainted raw meat. Other exposed pups show no sign of infection, but still spread the diseases to their human buddies. Overall, the veterinary and public health consensus is, meat should be served to your pup well-done.
- The Dog Food Project: Myths About Dog Nutrition
- Modern Dog Magazine: 10 More "People" Food for Dogs
- University of Florida Wildlife Ecology and Conservation: Feeding the High Performance Bird Dog
- Dog Food Advisor: What Dog Food Companies Don't Want You to Know About Added Fats
- Dog Training Central: Homemade Dog Food Recipes
- Science-Based Medicine: Raw Meat and Bone Diets for Dogs - It's Enough to Make You BARF
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.