My Dog Ate Chicken Bones – What Should I Do Now?

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Help, my dog ate chicken bones

Okay – you’ve just googled ‘My dog ate chicken bones’ and you are worried sick. I completely understand.

First things first.

DONT PANIC!

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!

My dog ate chicken bones, what should I do now?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.

Further information

You can find out how to feed bones safely to a dog in our guide to raw feeding. You might also enjoy our ‘What Can Dogs Eat’ series

For more information and advice on feeding and caring for your lab, don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Labrador Handbook

The Labrador HandbookAnd do join the forum if you need help and support with your Lab

 

8 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for calming me down. Mr. Bear, our 7-year old yellow lab, helped himself to the contents of the garbage can (my fault for not taking out before going to bed) – selecting cooked chicken bones I had tossed. I prepare a mixture of steamed broccoli, steamed yams and steamed chopped beef for Mr. Bear that I mix with his dog good kibbles. I am feeding him now so he is not digesting the chicken bone on empty stomach. Your information was very helpful. Thank you again.

  2. I have read this and I agree with Celeste above. I have had dogs all my life, from small corgi terrier to Labs. From 10 pounders to 100 pounders. Large and small. Bones have always, I mean Always been given as treats. Chicken, Pork, beef. cooked always. Now that being said, I am the worst dog owner in the world if you listen to most on this page. So be it. However I have had BONE EATING DOGS live long and prosperous lives. My Dad, who feed his Golden retriever bones as a regular habit, and that dog lived to be over 17 years old. Not to mention 2 other of his dogs did the same. IF you read closely to this article and it says that the EVIDENCE is weak. I say it is non existent. I have seen a dog choke and cough on a bone, BUT it is rare, and they have the instinct to fix it themselves in 99% of the cases I have seen. I feel it is irresponsible for someone to post FEAR instilling falsehoods like this without adding disclaimers. This being said, If you dont want too feed your dog bones, then dont, that is your choice. But please do not advertise falsely that it is dangerous when it is clearly barely a concern. As far as a Veterinarians are concerned, I trust them less than I trust Practicing Doctors. Any profession that is “Practicing” means they have not got it all right, means they DONT KNOW IT ALL… IM done.

  3. Thank you so much for this information. My dog hot into the trash (not his fault, it was totally my fault)& ate some cooked chicken bones on Tuesday night. He’s eating and drinking and showing no signs of distress except he has been vomiting several hours after he eats. I did cut down his portion to see if it would help him digest better but he’s still vomiting. How long do I wait to take him to the vet? He gets too stressed at the vets so I don’t want to cause him anymore trauma

  4. Im really glad i read this because if not i may have a heart attack or depression right now… Im having a puppy labrador and we leave her for about 5 minutes and i saw her eating a cooked bone… So I’ll just observe her in 48 hours and check if she is doing the actions of symptoms…. A big THANKYOU here🤗

  5. Thank you for the advice as we can be calmer now that we know the signs of distress. We would never give our dog chicken bones, but he found one in the snow on the side of the road. Chicken bones belong in the trash, people.

  6. I am 40+ years old. I remove the choke bone from chicken legs and have been feeding my dogs bones all my life, well starting with my first dog at 4 years old. Me and my dad have never lost a bone eating dog yet. He raised coon hounds for years when I was growing up. We are talking a lot of dogs and a lot of bones here. Now we have had to go in and remove a choke bone or two so they are worth removing from all chicken legs and throwing away. The risk posed by a dog eating a bone would in my opinion be SMALL. I also think dog papers are good for wiping your butt and little else. A good dog is a good dog and my dogs will eat bones and be just fine it would seem.

    • Rite Celeste it is, in my humble opinion, somewhat irresponsible of you to downplay the dangers of dogs eating chicken bones.

      Your anecdotal evidence is just that, anecdotal. Simply because you have never personally seen a dog get injured due to consuming a chicken bone absolutely does not mean that others will have the same results.

      There are far too many variables at play and you have far too few qualifications for you to summarily declare that chicken bones are safe for all dogs and that your personal experience supersedes any advice from a trained professional.

      Spreading false information can be very dangerous where it concerns a pets well-being.

      Please consider this in the future.

      • Raw bones are 100% okay

        But I agree that feeding a dog cooked chicken bones intentionally is completely irresponsible, cooked bones when cooked become brittle. If the dog chews it up into small pieces those pieces can pierce the wall of the stomach or intestines or even pierce the throat or get into the lungs. Same with sticks, I never let mine eat sticks as long as I’m supervising.

        Theres always that what if, and I’d rather be safe than sorry 👌👌

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