Can Dogs Live on a Diet of Chicken and Rice?

Adrienne Farricelli

Whether a dog can live on a diet of chicken and rice is something dog owners may wonder about.

If you are wondering whether a dog can live on a diet of chicken and rice most likely your dog has been doing well on this diet and you are wondering whether it's OK to feed long-term. Or perhaps, you are interested in feeding your dog a diet of chicken and rice because it's economical or you think a home-made diet may be ultimately healthier for your dog. This is not surprising, countless websites nowadays make claims of pet foods being full of harmful substances causing a pandemic of cancer and chronic diseases. As tempting as it may be to feed your dog a diet of chicken and rice, it's important to consider potentially harmful flaws.

A Diet of Chicken and Rice

Many dogs are fed a bland diet of chicken and rice when they develop digestive problems such as diarrhea after a dietary indiscretion or after switching a dog to another food too fast. Often, it' s the vet to suggest this bland diet for dogs with upset stomachs to be fed for a few days until the stools are better formed.

The guidelines to be followed are precise: the chicken should be skinless and bone-less and boiled without any added seasonings or salt and it should be fed at a ration of one part chicken and three parts rice. Afterward, the dog should be gradually weaned off this diet and his nutritionally balanced, normal diet should be resumed.

It may be tempting at this point, to continue feeding this diet especially if you have a dog who often suffers from soft stools and diarrhea. Wouldn't it be great to cook for your dog knowing exactly what ingredients you put into it? Wouldn't it be nice if, by feeding this diet, your dog's soft stools and diarrhea would magically resolve once and for all? And isn't it great that is costs so little compared to that premium diet you were considering feeding to your dog? Not so fast, turns out, a diet of chicken and rice fed long-term isn't as healthy as imagined.

A Matter of Balance

Sure, a diet of chicken and rice is easy on your dog's gastrointestinal tract, for a good reason it's often known as a 'bland diet," but the main issue is the fact that this diet is not balanced enough to be fed long-term. A dog may act fine of this diet when fed for just a few days, but if fed permanently there are risks from sickness due to missing lots of trace vitamins and minerals.

What are the main issues with this diet? Firstly, consider a dog's need for calcium. In a chicken and rice diet, there is not much calcium. This may lead to lowered bone structure and potential brittle bones along the road. The risks for secondary hyperparathyroidism are real and may arise from dietary calcium and vitamin D deficiency.

Secondly, this bland diet offers little fat and other vitamins and minerals will be lacking. For instance, lately it has been discovered how taurine deficiency can have a negative impact on dogs being fed certain unbalanced diets leading to heart issues and even death in severe cases.

A Word About Home-Made Diets

If you are planning to feed your dog a home-made diet, please make sure it is balanced by having a veterinary nutritionist evaluate it. According to research a very high percentage of homemade diets are not balanced. You will likely need to and a vitamin mineral supplement to ensure your dog is not missing anything.

"Dogs fed homemade diets perceived by the owners to be complete had a greater prevalence of health problems compared to dogs fed nutritionally balanced commercial foods, because there is a greater potential for nutrient deficiencies, excesses and imbalances with home-made diets (Rahman and Yathiraj, 2000).

" Some owners are not aware that home-prepared diets are sometimes higher in cost, need a complex preparation, specific ingredients and supplements, and must be formulated by a veterinarian or other trained professional with a nutrition background." Vivian Pedrinelli, Márcia de O. S. Gomes, and Aulus C.


Rahman S.A., Yathiraj S. (2000). Commercial versus traditional food in canine health. Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian, 22:S97 (abstract)

Handling alternative dietary requests from pet owners.Parr JM, Remillard RL Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2014 Jul; 44(4):667-88, v.

Homemade diets: attributes, pitfalls, and a call for action. Remillard RL Top Companion Anim Med. 2008 Aug; 23(3):137-42

Analysis of recipes of home-prepared diets for dogs and cats published in Portuguese. Vivian Pedrinelli, Márcia de O. S. Gomes, and Aulus C.