[Update: A reader pointed out some conflicting information in the USDA Database regarding th amount of bone in a chicken wing. I was surprised to see the significant gap between the results th reader found and what I used in this post. I did some research and determined why I opted to use 38%. It is a bit convoluted, so I have addressed it on a separate page: Varying data regarding the amount of bone in a chicken wing]

I think it is pretty clear that calcium is a must-have in every dog’s diet. When using chicken bones a the source of calcium, things can get a little tricky. If you feed a whole chicken carcass, the meat to bone ratio balances out; if you happen to buy a bag of chicken wings on sale, it can create calcium and bone-to-meat ratio overload.

How Much Calcium in a Chicken Wing?

Well, let’s breakdown the ratios of bone, meat, skin, calcium and phosphorous. By calculating data provided by the Australian Chicken Meat Federation, a chicken wing is 37% bone; data in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database states that a chicken wing is 38% bone. That is consistent enough for me.

[UPDATE: just to add more confusion to the mystery of how much bone is in a chicken wing, the USDA database lists two different amounts. It all depends on which link you choose when searching.

Looking at the info I chose when writing this original blog – 05100, Chicken, broilers or fryers, wing, meat and skin, raw – the data base indicates that a raw chicken wing consists of 38% of “bone and connective tissue.”

Information in the USDA Database for a raw chicken wing with meat and skin.

Looking at the screen shot provided by a reader (below), which is from the same database, a chicken wing contains for  68% refuse (46% bone, 21% skin and 1% separable fat).

Information in the USDA Database for a raw chicken wing with meat only

I am puzzled.

  • The database info for a raw chicken wing with meat and skin indicates 38% bone and connective tissue.
  • The database info for a raw chicken wing meat only indicates 46% bone.

That is quite a difference. When writing this post, I opted to use the USDA information that best aligned with my secondary source, the Australian Chicken Meat Federation.

The information provided on the Australian Chicken Meat Federation site is based on the average of ten chicken carcasses. According to their research, the average weight of a raw chicken wing is about 89 grams. Lean meat and skin account for 56 grams (about 63%), leaving 33 grams of bone / inedible stuff (about 37%).


Once I had the meat-to-bone ratio figured out, I wanted to know how much calcium that would provide. That answer was not easy to find.  After a few hours of searching, I found a document, titled “Results: chemical composition of raw material.”  It was republished as “Chicken Bone Calcium Extraction,” which I have inserted at the end of this post. It describes the results of a study on the amount of calcium that can be extracted from a chicken bone. Within the paper, I found the gold nugget I was searching for: the amount of calcium in raw chicken bone. Score!!!

100 grams of raw chicken bone (a mix and match of all types) contains 5.5 grams (5500 mg) calcium and 2.6 grams (2600 mg) phosphorus.

That fits nicely into the recommended 1:1 to 2:1 calcium/ phosphorous ratio mentioned in A Crash Course on Calcium, but the actual mount of calcium seemed like an awful lot. I noticed that one-half teaspoon ground eggshell provides about 1,000 milligrams calcium. With that in mind, I guess the amount stated for a chicken bone is not too far fetched. Nonetheless, chicken wings won’t be a staple of Phoebe’s diet.

What Would Happen if I Just Fed Ground Chicken Wings?

A little hypothetical – If I used the proportions I posted, with wings as the sole source of chicken, the calcium intake would be insane (keep in mind, I am using the information at hand; I don’t have access to a lab, so take it for what it is worth).

  • Phoebe weighs 42 pounds (19051 grams)
  • I want to feed 2-3% of her body weight per day (2.5% for simplicity):  That is 1 pound (454 grams) per day
  • I want 80% of her daily intake to be meat, and 65% of the meat is chicken (7.68 ounces; 290 grams)
  • A chicken wing weighs 89 grams, so the chicken component would consist of 3 wings (3.25 to be exact).

Wings are 38% bone, so if I add up all the meat (363 grams) and do the math, those 3 little chicken wings would result in a meal with a meat-to-bone ratio of 30%. That is way too high and puts the meal in the danger zone (remember those little constipated bone poops). In addition, the calcium and phosphorous would be too much as well (somewhere around 7500 mg).

I don’t make her meals daily; I make them in batches. This gives me the opportunity to incorporate those chicken wings and let the bone percentage average out as she goes through each batch (one to two weeks, depending on how much I make on mad-scientist-food-prep-day). Also, chicken meat alone does not contain exorbitant amounts of calcium, making it even easier to balance things out.

After mixing and matching I determined that the lowest common factor was 4 pounds of chicken. Since the focus of this post is the chicken wing, and since the calcium content of all the other ingredients is not humongous, I have left out the details for the other ingredients.

Here is the recipe I use when chicken wings are the calcium source.

Whew! That sure took a whole lot of calculating!

Check out the Nutrition Facts page  – if you need me to swap an item you can check out the USDA Nutrient Database. Don’t forget, I have not even touched upon other essential nutrients. I am beginning to see why people charge $275 -$375 to create customized diets. Ahhhhhh!

When my brain is not fried from all these calculations, I will add in values for the other essential nutrients. For now, if you are curious, I recommend the USDA Nutrient Database.

The Bottom Line

This little exercise was to prove that one cannot take a nonchalant attitude when creating a diet recipe. It does not mean that the whole world has to be as detailed as I have been with my wing-thing.

All I am trying to get across is that guessing on a meat-to-bone ratio, or taking what others say, on blind faith can result in something contrary to what you are trying to accomplish.