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How Long Will It Take for a Dog to Digest a Bone? Facts & Risks

Written by: Chelsea Mortensen

Last Updated on June 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

red border collie dog chewing on a bone

How Long Will It Take for a Dog to Digest a Bone? Facts & Risks

Dogs and bones seem like a match made in heaven, but should you be worried if your dog swallows a bone? And can dogs digest a bone if they do eat one? The answer is pretty complicated. Dogs can usually digest bones in about 8 to 12 hours.

Depending on whether the bone is cooked and how big the bone is, it might take longer. In some cases, eating bones can be dangerous because they can cause choking or intestinal damage. Here’s the rundown on dogs eating bones.

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How Bone Digestion Works in Dogs

Dogs share a common ancestor with wolves, and in the wild, their ancestors needed to get as much nutrition as possible from their meals. They might have eaten smaller bones whole and chewed bigger bones open to get anything they could out of it. Today, dog bones are familiar treats, and many dogs will be interested in bones they find around your home or yard.

If your dog swallows a bone, stomach enzymes break it down immediately. Most of the time, it passes through the system entirely within about 8 to 12 hours. However, larger bones might take longer to break down. If you’re worried about your dog eating a bone they shouldn’t have, it’s safest to monitor them for two days.

If your dog passes a bone, you might see white, chalky feces. This is from all the extra calcium in the bone.

dog eating bone
Image By: 7138475, Pixabay

Dog Bone Dangers

When your dog chews on a bone, choking is the first danger you need to worry about. Most dogs are smart enough not to swallow too big of a bone, but you should still supervise your dog around bones that might be a choking hazard.

A second, scarier danger is damage to your dog’s stomach or intestines. This is more dangerous in cooked bones and hollow bones from birds because they are more likely to break into sharp pieces. Don’t feed your dog cooked chicken bones. They can cause tearing or blockages in your dog’s stomach or intestines. In some cases, a large chunk can also cause a blockage in your dog’s intestines.

Signs You Should Call a Vet

Most of the time, your dog can eat a bone without experiencing adverse effects. But if your dog eats a bone that splinters in their stomach, the consequences can be very serious. You should call a vet if your dog is experiencing unusual lethargy or bloating. Bloody stool or vomit can indicate a cut in your dog’s digestive tract. A dark, sticky black stool or vomit that looks like coffee grounds may be partially digested blood. If your dog has a blockage or internal cut from a bone, surgery may be needed to repair the damage and remove any remaining bone fragments.

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divider-pawLast Thoughts

Most of the time, letting a dog chew on a bone isn’t a big deal. And if your dog swallows a smaller bone, it will usually break down and pass quickly. However, it’s important to keep an eye on dogs if they have access to bones in case something goes wrong. Noticing the signs of choking, obstructions, or internal damage can save your dog’s life.


Featured Image Credit: Sebastian Quinn, Shutterstock

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