Okay – you’ve just googled ‘My dog ate chicken bones’ and you are worried sick. I completely understand.
First things first.
Before you phone for an ambulance or take a 90 mph drive to the nearest vet, take a deep breath
Your dog is probably going to be fine.
Look at your dog
Is he gagging or choking? If yes, can you see the bone in his throat and remove it safely?
If not, get on the phone to your vet. Let him know you are on the way, stop reading this, and get the dog to the vet.
Chances are, your dog is not gagging or choking.
The chances are the bone is now resting happily in your dog’s stomach. And of course that is still a worry, because we’ve all heard that “dogs should NEVER eat chicken bones” (more of that in a moment).
But before your heart rate goes up again, I want to reassure you once more. Your dog will probably be just fine.
Let’s take a few precautions though. To be on the safe side.
Look at your dog again
Is he looking back at you with his head a bit on one side? Licking his lips a bit perhaps as he remembers the pleasure of swallowing the remains of your Sunday roast?
Is he wearing his normal cheeky grin, tail wagging furiously.
Or perhaps he snoozing in the sun, blissfully unaware of the trouble he has caused. Or maybe he chasing his tail, or trying to disassemble your favourite shoes?
Well then, the fact that your dog ate chicken bones is inevitably going to worry you for a while but your dog is probably in no immediate danger. You have plenty of time. Let’s think about what to do next.
Should you take your dog to the vet?
There is no point in driving at break neck speed to the veterinarian’s office with a perfectly happy, healthy dog who just happens to have eaten a bone.
No vet is going to pull on a gown and mask, and whip out his operating instruments, to remove a bone from the stomach of a happy, bouncy dog.
Provided that bone isn’t causing a problem
What happens if a dog eats a chicken bone?
There are only three ways for the bone to come out now
He may vomit the bone up. But this is unlikely and you shouldn’t try to provoke vomiting (more of that in a moment)Your vet could remove the bone via an incision in your dog’s stomach
OR the bone could pass through the dog via the natural digestive route. And this is by far safer option unless the bone starts to cause a problem.
For that reason, the vet is only going consider operating to remove the bone if the dog is showing signs of being in trouble. We’ll look at those signs in a moment
Don’t make your dog vomit
Trying to make the dog sick could do more harm than good, simply because it gives the bone another opportunity to damage the dog’s gullet or throat on the way up
Your vet will in all probability advise you to ‘watch and wait’.
What you should do in a moment, is give your vet a quick phone call, to let them know what has happened and confirm that they don’t need to see the dog.
Let’s just quickly talk about the difference between cooked chicken bones and raw chicken bones. Because it helps us answer this next question
Can dogs eat chicken bones – the facts
The answer depends on whether or not those bones are cooked.
If your dog ate chicken bones that were raw, you can relax. Thousands upon thousands of dogs are fed on raw chicken, bones included, and it is very rare indeed for those bones to cause a problem.
Dogs have a digestive system that is designed to process bones. Especially if they are consumed as part of a meaty meal.
Recreational bones – bones eaten on their own instead of as part of a meal, may be more problematic
As a precaution, if your dog has stolen a raw chicken bone that didn’t have much meat on it, it’s a good idea to give him some other food to digest along side the bone. So that the bone isn’t sitting in is stomach by itself.
A meal will also trigger the production of more stomach acid, and help to dissolve the bone in the natural way.
Dogs and chicken bones – the cooking issue
Many people consider the consumption of cooked chicken bones, or indeed cooked bones of any kind, to be more dangerous than raw bones.
The theory goes, that cooked bones are more brittle, and splinter more easily than raw bones.
I’ve no reason to argue with that theory, though how much evidence supports it isn’t clear. It is widely accepted that cooked bones are dangerous and because dogs don’t need to eat them, it seems sensible to avoid them.
But it’s too late for that now in your case. The bones are inside your dog, so let’s talk solutions. Let’s find out what to do when your dog eats chicken bones!
What to do if your dog eats chicken bones?
Speak to your vet in case he advises differently, but in most cases, all that remains is for you to do, is to keep a close watch on your dog. We just need to be sure he digests the bone in the way that dogs easily digest raw bones.
You’ll simply be keeping an eye on your dog to make sure he doesn’t come to any harm
What you are looking for, are signs that he is in pain. This would indicate that the bone has done some damage or got stuck ‘en route’ and that your vet needs to take action
Here are the signs you need to watch out for
Dog ate chicken bones – symptoms of a problem
If the chicken bone is causing your dog a problem, you may see one or more of the following signs
- Vomiting or retching
- Drooling or panting
- Restlessness and looking uncomfortable
- Tiredness, reluctance to move
- Refusing to eat
- Stretching repeatedly or moving oddly
- Whining, crying when his tummy is touched
- Bleeding from his bottom, diarrhea, or straining to empty his bowels
- Other behavior that you don’t normally see in your dog (such are growling) and that might indicate pain or discomfort
You know your dog best, ask yourself if he is behaving normally. If your dog displays any of those symptoms run him down to your vet without delay.
If your dog is stretched out on the sofa snoring peacefully – you don’t need to worry. In all probability he will digest the bone without difficulty
My dog ate chicken bones – summary
If your dog ate some chicken bones it isn’t the end of the world.
The general consensus is that cooked chicken bones are dangerous for dogs to eat, and it makes sense to keep them away from your dog.
However, it is clear that many dogs do swallow cooked chicken bones each year without coming to any harm.
If your dog ate chicken bones that were cooked, then telephone your vet to let him know, and keep an eye on your dog for the next 48 hours to make sure he doesn’t suffer any ill effects.
For more information and advice on feeding and caring for your lab, don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Labrador Handbook
And do join the forum if you need help and support with your Lab