My Dog Ate A Chicken Bone – What Do I Do?

When we think of our dog’s wild ancestors, we often picture dogs in the forest, snacking on the bones of their most recent prey.

We know these dogs likely consumed bones of all kinds, with some wild dogs even gnawing on bones to this day.

Large animal bones are even sold in pet stores as treats, so does this mean all bones are safe for dogs to consume?

Chicken is prepared in homes across the world, meaning many pups out there have an opportunity to snack on the bones.

While our pups may be interested in this enticing treat, it is not a safe option at the end of the day.

In this article we will discuss the details of why you should never give your dog chicken bones to snack on, and what you can expect if your pup accidentally gets their paws on this potential danger.

My Dog Ate A Chicken Bone

Are Chicken Bones Dangerous To Dogs?

Overall, chicken bones are extremely dangerous for our canine companions.

There are varying degrees of risk based on how the chicken bones are cooked, but each type of bone has the potential to cause significant damage to a dog’s digestive tract.

Chicken bones have the ability to splinter off and puncture tissue, cause blockages in the intestines as they move, and even become a choking hazard if they do not go down the esophagus correctly.

To help you better understand the many health complications that chicken bones consumption can bring, let’s break down more of the details below.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Chicken Bones?

When discussing the dangers of chicken bone consumption in dogs, cooked chicken bones are especially risky.

Chicken bones become extremely brittle when they are cooked, as they are dehydrated of all their moisture in the process.

Once this happens, the bones can easily break apart into tiny splinters as the dog chews it.

These sharp pieces of bone will not only travel down the esophagus and into the stomach, but they will move throughout the intestinal tract.

This leaves many opportunities for intestinal irritation, obstruction, and even perforations.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken Bones?

Raw chicken bones are considered less dangerous than cooked bones, but they are still not safe for your pup to consume.

Raw chicken bones do not typically splinter to the extent that cooked chicken bones will, but they can still lead to significant complications as they move throughout the digestive tract.

Raw chicken bones can still be a choking hazard, they can still form blockages in the intestines, and they can still perforate intestines.

Can Dogs Eat Chicken Wing Bones?

Many pet wonders assume that chicken wing bones are safer for dogs to eat due to the fact that they are generally smaller than other chicken bones.

While this may be true about their size, it can actually make them much more dangerous.

Many dogs end up swallowing these chicken wings whole, leading to a higher likelihood of complications.

Even if a dog does chew the wings before they consume it, this still causes an abundance of tiny bone splinters to travel through the intestines.

Though they may be smaller, chicken wing bones are still dangerous for dogs.

My Dog Ate A Chicken Bone, What Should I Do?

If your dog just ate a chicken bone, you are likely wondering what you can do next to prevent as many complications as possible.

No matter the amount or type of bone your dog just consumed, we suggest reaching out to your veterinarian for guidance.

A quick phone call to your vet can offer you advice on whether or not your pup needs to be seen, and the potential risks of waiting it out at home based on your dog’s specific situation.

A simple phone call does not cost a thing, so we always suggest picking up the phone in these situations.

Should I Make My Dog Vomit If They Ate A Chicken Bone?

Unless your vet tells you otherwise, we highly suggest against making your dog vomit at home.

Not only can large pieces of bone be a major choking hazard if your dog vomits, but tiny splinters of bone can severely damage their esophagus on the way up.

If your vet thinks vomiting is appropriate for your dog, they will likely suggest coming into their office and doing so in a controlled environment.

Your vet can offer an injectable medication that will cause your dog to immediately vomit, allowing them to monitor the situation in case your dog is in any form of distress.

Not only can they offer special food that will cushion the pieces of bone on the way up, but they can intervene if any complications arise.

There is no way to induce vomiting at home safely when it involves chicken bones, so we highly suggest bringing your pup into the vet for this process.

Signs Of A Chicken Bone Obstruction In Dogs

We don’t always catch our dogs in the act of consuming a chicken bone, so it’s important to be aware of the signs of potential complications down the line.

Chicken bones can lead to health threats ranging from GI obstructions to perforations, all of which will typically cause signs of gastrointestinal upset.

Some of the most common signs of a chicken bone foreign body in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Bloody vomit
  • Anorexia
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy

Chicken bones can impact the digestive tract in other ways aside from obstruction, so there are other symptoms that you should be on the lookout for as well.

For example, if a dog has a chicken bone stuck in their mouth or throat, they may experience pawing at the face, excessive drooling, coughing, hard swallowing, excessive licking, and respiratory distress.

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your canine friend, we suggest having them seen by your veterinarian immediately.

What To Expect At The Vet When Dog Eats A Chicken Bone

Once you realize it’s time to take your pup into the vet for their chicken bone consumption, you may be nervous about what to expect once you get there.

Each situation will vary based on multiple factors, but there are few different routes that your vet can explore.

First, if your dog ate the chicken bone within the last few hours, they may suggest inducing vomiting in a controlled environment.

This will typically involve feeding your dog soft food to cushion the bone on the way up, and administering a medication IV that will cause them to immediately vomit.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that your vet may first suggest taking an x-ray of the stomach to ensure that the bone is truly there.

If your dog has consumed the chicken bone longer than 2-3 hours ago, or they are showing obvious signs of distress, your veterinarian will likely suggest performing an x-ray to determine the location of the bone.

This can also help the vet determine whether the bone is in one large piece or multiple tiny splinters, as this can change their treatment plan drastically.

No matter the details of your dog’s case, imaging is always important in determining the best plan of action going forward.

Your vet can then determine the safest treatment method based on the results of their x-rays.

Treating Chicken Bone Ingestion In Dogs

As you can see from the details above, every chicken bone ingestion is different.

There are many factors to consider in each treatment plan, which is why it is always best to trust your vet’s guidance.

However, to help you better understand the standard options on the table, let’s discuss the most common treatment routes that are available to your pup.

Inducing Vomiting

If you were lucky enough to catch your pup in the act of consuming the chicken bone, your vet may be able to induce vomiting in their office.

If your vet is able to induce vomiting successfully without any complications along the way, most dogs do not need any additional care.

However, your vet may still suggest performing an x-ray to make sure no other parts of the bone have remained in the stomach or have moved into their intestines.

Hospitalization And Monitoring

If your vet thinks your dog may be able to pass the chicken bone based on their radiographs, they may suggest keeping them in the hospital on IV fluids.

The fluids will help to not only hydrate the gut and encourage movement, but to also control any current nausea or pain that your dog is experiencing.

Your vet will typically repeat x-rays every 12 hours to monitor the chicken bone movement, and if the bone has not moved, they can then consider surgery.

Surgery

If your dog is unable to pass the chicken bone, or if the chicken bone has perforated the intestines, your veterinarian will recommend surgery.

The surgery will vary based on the severity of your dog’s case, but there is a standard process that will commence.

Their surgery will typically involve removing any pieces of chicken bone, assessing all parts of the digestive tract for damage, and removing any portions of the intestinal tract that are damaged beyond repair.

Again, every case will vary, so we suggest trusting your veterinarian’s surgical plan.

Endoscopy

If your dog can get to a facility that offers an endoscopy, there may be some situations in which a chicken bone can be removed from the stomach with an endoscope.

However, these situations are limited, so it’s best to trust your veterinarian’s advice on whether or not this is possible.

What If I Don’t Take My Dog To The Vet When They Eat A Chicken Bone?

If you are not yet aware of the dangers of chicken bone consumption in dogs, you may wonder what can happen if you don’t take your pup into the vet.

Many dogs have passed a chicken bone with complications, leading plenty of owners to think their pup will be just fine.

While this may be true in some cases, there is just no way to know.

By not taking your dog into the vet when they eat a chicken bone, you are increasing the risk of fatal complications down the line.

It can take a few days for dogs to develop symptoms of intestinal complications, and significant damage could be done to the digestive tract in this time.

Many of these situations are fatal for the dog, as the damage is too severe to recover from.

Even if your dog has passed chicken bones before, we always suggest having them seen by your veterinarian.

Prognosis For Dog Eating Chicken Bones

A standard prognosis for a dog eating chicken bones is always best when they receive immediate medical care.

The longer the bone is left to continue on throughout the digestive tract, the higher their risk of fatal complications.

Though we can never ensure a full recovery in these situations, we can always be certain that immediate action is the best way to offer your dog the best chance at survival.

Final Thoughts

Our dog’s wild ancestors may have snacked on bones often, but that doesn’t mean our pups should continue to do so now.

Be sure to always keep any chicken bones away from your dog, and to reach out to your vet if your pup ever gets their paws on a chicken bone in the future.

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