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My Dog Ate a Chicken Bone, What Do I Do? (Vet Answer)

Written by: Dr. Chyrle Bonk DVM (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on June 18, 2024 by Dogster Team

fried chicken

My Dog Ate a Chicken Bone, What Do I Do? (Vet Answer)


Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo


Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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You may have been warned about the dangers of dogs eating chicken bones, and with good reason. Eating a chicken bone can be dangerous for a dog. So, whether your dog gulped down a chicken bone without chewing or if they crunched it up, contact your veterinarian immediately. Chicken bones will usually dissolve without incident once they hit the strong stomach acid, but other times, they can cause many potential issues. Read on to learn more about this scenario.

What Do I Do if My Dog Eats a Chicken Bone?

If your dog just helped themselves to your barbecued drumsticks or they went through the trash for last night’s chicken wings, the most immediate danger to your dog is choking. If you notice your dog in distress, get them to the vet right away.

Signs of distress include:
  • Gagging/retching
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Drooling

If your dog seems otherwise fine after eating a chicken bone, still consult your vet. They will be able to determine if you should bring your pup in right away or safely monitor them at home for any additional signs. The route your vet decides to take will often depend on the size of your dog, the size of the chicken bones, and how many you think they ate.

If your vet has you pump the brakes and monitor at home, watch for signs of digestive upset, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloody feces
  • Lethargy
  • Straining to defecate

Any of these signs could indicate that the bones have caused issues with digestion, including obstruction or perforation. Your dog may also develop some digestive upset from the fat, seasonings, or sauces associated with the chicken bone.

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Dogs and Chicken Bones

Dogs in the wild eat bones, so what’s the big deal? A dog’s stomach does have the ability to digest bone. That’s because they can produce around 100 times more stomach acid than we do. That amounts to a very acidic environment where few foodstuffs can survive, including bone.

However, cooked chicken bones are a little different than the raw bones a dog would eat in the wild. Cooking bones can make them brittle and more likely to splinter when a dog chews on them as compared to the softer, more flexible texture of raw bones. These splinters are usually what causes the problems. Sharp, pointy edges can lead to punctures or perforations anywhere in the digestive tract, including the esophagus, stomach, or intestines. These injuries can be very serious and require immediate medical attention.

If a bone happens to make it out of the stomach with any amount of size, it can get stuck in the intestines, potentially creating a blockage. Depending on the severity, intestinal obstructions may need to be removed surgically.

Also, as already mentioned, chicken bones can cause choking. While this is most common in smaller pups that eat chicken bones simply due to their size, no dog is immune. Choking is an emergency that needs immediate professional care.

On top of the potential issues that the bone itself could create, let’s add that any extras to the bone, such as fat, sauces, or seasonings, could present their own set of issues, potentially even pancreatitis.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Should I give my dog bread after eating chicken bones?

You may have read somewhere to give your dog bread after they eat a chicken bone. The idea is that this soft food will cushion the potentially sharp bone to help keep it from causing damage to the digestive tract. This may make perfect sense, but refer to your veterinarian first. They will be the best ones to determine if you should or shouldn’t give your dog bread, as well as the next steps that you need to take after your dog eats a chicken bone.

dog sitting on table against young male veterinarian making prescription notes in document
Image Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

Can dogs eat any kind of bones?

You’re going to get varying answers to this question. Some vets will say, hands down, no bones. No way, no how. Others will say some bones are “safe-depending”. What you may hear is that raw bones that are larger than your dog’s mouth and rounded in shape may be safe. This is basically because raw bones are less likely to splinter, and the large size will make it difficult to swallow. Bones that are rounded may also be less likely to cut your dog’s mouth.

However, raw bones aren’t without risk. There may be a chance for bacterial contamination, and chewing on hard things like bones can break teeth. Those round marrow bones also can contain a lot of fat.

Again, talk to your vet before giving your pup any bones to chew to make sure it’s a good choice.

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While dogs and bones are thought to go hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly, your dog eating a chicken bone should be followed up immediately by contacting your veterinarian. Depending on your dog’s size, the number and type of chicken bones they ate, and if they’re showing any signs, they may have you bring your pup in right away or have you monitor for further developments.

Since chicken bones can be dangerous for your dog to eat, they should not be knowingly fed to them. Please do your best to securely dispose of your leftovers to keep your pup’s diet chicken bone-free.

Featured Image Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

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