We derive the scattering amplitude for Goldstone bosons of chiral symmetry off the pseudoscalar charmed mesons up to leading one-loop order in a covariant chiral effective field theory, using the so-called extended-on-mass-shell renormalization scheme. Then we use unitarized chiral perturbation theory to fit to the available lattice data of the S-wave scattering lengths. The lattice data are well described. However, most of the low-energy constants determined from the fit bear large uncertainties. Lattice simulations in more channels are necessary to pin down these values which can then be used to make predictions in other processes related by chiral and heavy quark symmetries.