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What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chicken Bones: Expert Advice - PawSafe
Dog Healthcare

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chicken Bones: Expert Advice

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

what to do if dog eats chicken bones

Have you ever wondered what to do if your dog eats chicken? Many owners have experienced their furry friend snatching up a chicken bone before they could stop them. While dogs love the taste of meat, cooked chicken bones should be where owners draw the line. 

Chicken bones are a choking hazard, and the sharp edges of the bones can puncture the digestive tract. Even if you didn’t add the bones to your pet’s food bowl yourself, it’s pretty common for dogs to get into the garbage and gobble up leftover bones. In fact, many a vet has had to remove the remains of an entire KFC family-sized bucket worth of bones after a dog went dumpster diving. Rotten bones from the garbage can also cause digestive upset and inflammation in the gut, so support our dog’s gut health with dog probiotic supplements.

If your dog has eaten chicken bones, it’s important to act quickly but calmly to prevent any damage. Drawing from professional sources and experts, this article will give you a thorough guide on how to deal with dogs eating chicken bones. 

Chicken is a delicacy for both humans and canines. But dogs don’t get the privilege of eating boned chicken since they’ll eat all the sharp bones indiscriminately. Our article on how to boil chicken for dogs shows you how to give your dog chicken without all the risks of bones. We also discuss how to use the bones to make a healthy bone broth for your dog.

Now, we’re not saying dogs eating chicken bones is highly lethal. In fact, if anything, most dogs come out the other side of chicken bones entirely fine. People who raw feed their dogs often give their dogs chicken or necks and never have a problem. However, when you’re dealing with cooked bones it can be far more dangerous because you never know when the bones would splinter or choke your dog. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

What to do if your dog eats chicken bones

Here is what you can do if you catch your dog eating bones red-pawed:

1. Assess the situation

The first step is to assess the situation. How many bones did your dog eat? How big were they? If your dog only ate a small bone or two, they will usually be able to pass them without issue. However, if they ate a large amount or the bones were particularly sharp, you may need to call the vet.

2. Monitor your dog

Keep a close eye on your dog for any signs of discomfort, such as vomiting, diarrhea, especially red stool, or lethargy. If any of these symptoms occur, seek veterinary attention right away.

3. Do not induce vomiting

Contrary to popular belief, inducing vomiting in a dog that has eaten chicken bones is not recommended. The sharp edges of the bones can cause further damage to the dog’s throat and digestive system on the way up. They can also choke on the bones when they start to vomit. 

So if your dog is showing no signs of distress and they did not eat a lot of chicken bones, it’s better to keep an eye on them and let the digestive process  happen naturally.

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4. Feed your dog bread or rice

If your dog has only eaten a small amount of chicken bones, feeding them bread can help cushion the bones and aid in their digestion.

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5. Offer water

Make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water to help move the bones through their system.

We will discuss when it’s time to go to the vet after your dog eats bones below.

Also see: what to give a dog for a cold

Understanding the Risk of Dogs Eating Chicken Bones

Why Chicken Bones Are Dangerous

Dogs are known for their love of chewing bones. Even puppies chew on bones as soon as their growing teeth allow them to. However, chicken bones can be particularly hazardous for canines. 

Unlike larger bones, chicken bones are small and brittle, meaning they can easily splinter and break into sharp pieces that can cause serious harm to your dog’s digestive system.

When a dog chews on a chicken bone, the sharp fragments can damage their mouth, throat, and intestines, leading to cuts, tears, and even blockages. In severe cases, these injuries can be life-threatening and require immediate veterinary attention.

Possible Health Complications

If your dog eats chicken bones, they may experience a range of health complications, including:

  • Choking: Small chicken bones can get lodged in a dog’s throat, causing them to choke and struggle to breathe.
  • Gastrointestinal Injuries: Sharp bone fragments can puncture your dog’s stomach or intestines, leading to internal bleeding, infection, and other serious complications.
  • Blockages: If a bone fragment gets stuck in your dog’s digestive tract, it can cause a blockage that prevents them from passing stool. This can lead to constipation, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
  • Tooth Damage: Chewing on hard chicken bones can also cause damage to your dog’s teeth, leading to broken or cracked teeth that may require dental treatment.

You can also read:

Are Pig Ears Good for Dogs?

Immediate Actions: What To Do Immediately After Dog Eats Chicken Bones

If your dog has eaten chicken bones, it is important to take immediate action to prevent any potential harm. Here are some steps to take immediately:

Removing the Bone

The first thing to do is to try and remove the bone from your dog’s mouth. If the bone is still visible and your dog is not choking, you can try to gently remove it with your fingers or a pair of tweezers. Be careful not to push the bone further down your dog’s throat.

If the bone is already swallowed, do not try to make your dog vomit, as this can cause more harm. Instead, move on to the next step.

Monitoring Your Dog

After your dog has eaten chicken bones, it is important to monitor them closely for any signs of discomfort or distress. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Lethargy;
  • Abdominal pain; and
  • Difficulty breathing.

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. They will be able to assess your dog’s condition and determine if any further action is necessary.

In addition to monitoring your dog’s symptoms, you should ensure they have plenty of water to drink. This can help to flush out any small bone fragments and prevent constipation.

Remember, prevention is always the best course of action when it comes to your dog’s health. Make sure to keep chicken bones and other dangerous foods out of your furry friend’s reach.

Veterinary Care

When to Contact the Vet After Your Dog Eats Chicken Bones

If your dog has swallowed chicken bones, it is essential to give your vet as soon as possible. Even if your dog appears to be fine, there may be internal injuries that are not immediately apparent. The vet can assess the situation and recommend the best course of action even without having to go to their office.

Signs that you must contact the vet include bloody diarrhea, reluctance to eat, vomiting, and general weakness. Anything that suggests your dog feels sick warrants a call or visit to your vet in case of any internal damage. 

It is important to remember that chicken bones can be very dangerous for dogs and that prompt veterinary care is essential to ensure your dog’s health and well-being.

Treatment Options for Dogs Eating Chicken Bones

The treatment options for dogs that have swallowed chicken bones will depend on the severity of the situation. Sometimes, the vet may recommend that you monitor your dog for signs of distress and provide supportive care, such as fluids and rest.

In more severe cases like intestinal blockage,  the vet may recommend that your dog undergo surgery to remove the bones. This is typically done under general anesthesia and may require a hospital stay for your dog.

It is important to follow your vet’s recommendations closely and provide your dog with the care and support needed during this time. With prompt veterinary care and appropriate treatment, most dogs will recover from swallowing chicken bones without long-term complications.

Prevention

Safe Alternatives to Chicken Bones

It’s important to provide them with safe alternativ-e-archives To prevent your dog from eating chicken bones. Here are some options:

  • Raw bones (specifically the softer rib bones or kneecaps from a cow that won’t wear down and damage their teeth. Hard bones either wear down a dog’s teeth or potentially break them).
  • Chew toys that are wider than your dog’s mouth.
  • High-quality dental chews.
  • Fun, frozen treats like carrots and apple slices. 
  • Natural chews like rawhide or pig ears.
  • Chicken feet as part of a properly  balanced raw diet.

These safe alternativ-e-archives can satisfy your dog’s chewing needs without putting them at risk of choking or intestinal damage.

Keeping Chicken Bones Out Of Reach

Another way to prevent your dog from eating chicken bones is to keep them out of reach. Here are some tips:

  • Dispose of chicken bones in a secure trash can with a lid.
  • Keep chicken bones off counters and tables.
  • Store chicken bones in a sealed container until they can be disposed of properly.
  • Train your dog to stay out of the kitchen and away from the trash can.

By taking these precautions, you can reduce the risk of your dog getting ahold of chicken bones and potentially harming themselves.

Also see: 

What to do with dog poop until garbage day.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of a dog eating chicken bones?

Dogs who eat one or two chicken bones usually won’t show any signs unless the bone causes a digestive issue. Symptoms of a dog eating chicken bones include vomiting, red diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, and loss of appetite. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

How long does it take for a dog to get sick after eating chicken bones?

It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days for a dog to get sick after eating chicken bones. In some cases, dogs may not show any symptoms until several days after ingesting the bones if the bone got stuck in the digestive tract.

Can dogs digest cooked bones?

Yes, dogs can digest some cooked bones. However, it is risky to let dogs swallow cooked food as it can lead to choking, damage to the throat or intestinal tract or blockages. Even eating too many safe raw bones can cause an excess of calcium in the diet, which can lead to constipation, mineral imbalances, kidney stones, and even bone deformities in growing dogs.

What should I do if my dog swallowed a bone without chewing?

If your dog swallowed a bone without chewing, it’s important to monitor your dog and call your vet if they have any sick symptoms. Choking is the biggest risk of dogs eating bones without chewing, so most of the trouble has passed if they don’t choke.

However, intestinal blockage is also a risk. Here, the vet may recommend x-rays or other tests to determine if the bone has caused any damage to your dog’s digestive system.

How much bread should I give my dog after eating chicken bones?

Giving your dog bread after eating chicken bones can help cushion the bones and make them easier to pass. However, it’s important to note that bread should never be a substitute for veterinary care. If your dog has ingested chicken bones, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Are raw chicken bones safe for dogs to eat?

Raw chicken bones can also splinter and pose choking and intestinal blockage risks. While they’re safer than cooked bones, and many raw feeders do give their dogs raw chicken bones, we recommend you stick to raw chicken feet only. Chicken necks can also be dangerous because it can contain the thyroid gland and can give your dog hyperthyroidism when they ingest it. Avoid turkey bones together.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, chicken bones are fragile and are much more likely to cause dental injury and choking if a dog ingests them.  While chicken bones can cause serious harm to your dog, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of injury. These include monitoring your dog and contacting your vet if anything happens.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.