Dog Eats Chicken Wing Bones

Calls for advice on what to do when a dog has eaten chicken bones happens fairly frequently in practice. They vary from dogs hoovering up leftover chicken wing bones at barbeques, scavenging on walks to helping themselves to the whole carcass at a family dinner – whoops! Once you’ve got over the fact that all your hard work preparing the meal is lost: should you worry and what do you do now?

Each case is different and this article is not designed to be in place of advice from your vet with regard to your individual situation, but it should help guide you and answer some of your questions.

The level of concern depends, to some extent, on the size of your dog, the number of bones eaten, and whether your dog has any current or previous health concerns.

Dogs are carnivores – they are designed to digest meat and bones and in theory, they should be able to cope, but not always. More often than not the bones that our dogs get hold of have been cooked first. Cooked bones are slightly more of a concern than raw ones as they become more brittle and, if chewed, are more prone to breaking into sharp points. The main danger with chicken bones (raw or cooked) is that they have the potential to cause a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract (guts) or even a perforation (rip/tear). Either of these can occur anywhere from the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach) to the rectum (the tube to the outside of the body) and can be life-threatening.

Is It Bad for Dogs to Eat Chicken Bones? Dogs have been eating bones for thousands of years, and most of the time, they process them just fine. Typically, chicken bones will dissolve once they hit the stomach—before they have a chance to become dangerous. Most times, dogs are able to pass chicken bones uneventfully.

Make Sure Your Dog Isn’t Choking

The most immediate cause for concern would be if the chicken bone is lodged in your dogs airways. If your dog is choking, they may start retching or acting like theyre trying to cough something up. They may also pace back and forth, roll around on the ground, or paw at their mouth.

Unfortunately, if their airway is completely blocked, they wont be able to make any noise at all, so youll have to pay extra close attention to their body language. If your dog is choking, dont wait to call your vet. You need to take immediate action.

First, check inside your dogs mouth to see if you can remove whatever object is lodged in their throat. If youre not able to remove the object, your next option is to use the Heimlich maneuver, just like with a person. There are two different ways to perform this maneuver, depending on the size of your dog. There is an abdominal compression technique for medium to large-sized dogs and a chest thrust technique for small dogs. Both techniques are very simple.

7 Things to Do if Your Dog Eats a Chicken Bone

Follow these 7 steps if your dog has eaten a chicken bone to help limit the potential health risks:

While it’s natural to panic when you think your dog is in danger, its important to remain calm. Raising your voice and making sudden movements can increase your dogs stress levels and worsen their condition.

If your dog hasnt completely swallowed the bone yet, calmly try to remove it from their grasp. A panicked removal motion can trigger a dog to be possessive of the bone, and they may try and swallow it quickly. Never try to forcibly take a chicken bone (or any object) away from your dog, especially those small enough to be choked on.

Another tip is to trade up with a higher-value item like steak that your dog will happily exchange the chicken bone for. This tip only works if the item is very high-value, so training to trade up will help avoid this and similar situations.

If your dog is not actively choking, call your veterinarian and explain the situation. They will be able to walk you through your next steps and give you a better sense of whether your dog is in any immediate danger.

In some scenarios, your dog may swallow the chicken bone and be perfectly fine. Your vet can help you recognize if this is the case, or if you need to seek further medical attention.

My Dog JUST Ate A Chicken Bone – What Happens Now?

I would recommend that you make your vet aware and listen to their advice; they are then prepared to provide the best care in the event of an emergency or any deterioration.

You will probably have heard that in some cases where dogs have eaten things that they shouldn’t – chocolate or other toxic items, for example, the vet can give medications to make them vomit. However, in the case of chicken bones this is not advised (and do NOT be tempted to try and do this yourself at home, it is incredibly dangerous). The reason we don’t make dogs vomit in these cases is that we don’t know whether the chicken bones were chewed or broken when swallowed and any sharp edges to the bone could cause disastrous damage on the way back up from the stomach.

In a medium-large sized dog with no health concerns my usual advice would be as follows:

  • Do not withhold food from your dog, instead feed little and often. It’s tempting to think that as they may have eaten more, or something different to usual that they don’t need anything for a while. However, in cases like this, I always advise feeding food little and often; this can be your dog’s usual food or a fairly bland wet food. The idea behind this is to stimulate your dog’s digestion to do its job and break down the bones in the stomach. The other benefit of feeding little and often is that the food should ‘cushion’ the bones in the stomach and help to protect them from any sharp points whilst they digest.
  • Allow your dog to do gentle exercise. No running around like a nutty thing, but gentle exercise (short walks on the lead) will help to stimulate digestion.
  • Make sure they stay well hydrated. Ensure they have access to fresh water: you can add water to their food to increase intake or change from dry food to wet food. Dehydration will reduce digestion alone and can have other negative effects.
  • Monitor your dog’s stools closely. If your dog does develop vomiting or diarrhea then you will know quickly. It’s also important that we make sure your dog is still passing feces as failure to do so may be one of the first signs of a blockage and prompt you to visit your vet.
  • If your dog shows any of the following signs you must contact your vet as a matter of urgency:

  • Vomiting more than once
  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Signs of abdominal (tummy) pain such as stretching out or sitting in a hunched position
  • A tense or bloated abdomen
  • Not passing feces
  • Lethargy (acting quiet, or not himself)
  • Coughing/retching
  • In any dog that is particularly old or young, has any health concerns, or is on medications you must discuss with your vet.

    Your vet may talk about X-rays with you – the benefit of these depends on timing and each individual situation. If your dog is showing signs that are consistent with a blockage then x-rays are used to help diagnose this and to try and determine the location of any bones within the digestive tract. If your dog has just eaten the bone/bones and is showing no adverse effects there is often little benefit to an X-ray as it is simply likely to confirm the presence of bones in your dog’s stomach but cannot give you peace of mind or any indication of whether issues will develop over the following few days. In dogs that are coughing or retching after eating, x-rays are useful to check whether bones are wedged in the throat or further down the esophagus.Ask a Vet In Real Time!

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    Can dogs digest cooked chicken wing bones?

    Should You Be Worried If Your Dog Eats a Chicken Bone? In many cases, if your dog stays active, continues to eat and drink, and doesn’t exhibit any negative symptoms after eating a cooked chicken bone, they will be fine. The bone will pass through their digestive tract without causing any damage.

    How long after eating chicken bones would a dog get sick?

    Can dogs digest chicken bones? Yes, dogs can digest chicken bones but cooked bones are not safe for pets. This is because they become brittle and can splinter as well as get stuck in your dog’s digestive system. Some people who feed their dogs a raw food diet offer chicken meat on the bone.

    How long does it take for a chicken wing to pass through a dog?

    Bones that lodge in the esophagus might cause shallow breathing, pain, gulping, or even vomiting. All these signs are likely to occur within the first ten minutes, but If the bone makes it to the stomach the signs can take an hour or more to appear.