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.
Give Your Dog a Soft Piece of Bread
If your dog is willing to eat a soft piece of bread, it can keep the fragments from puncturing their stomach. In addition, it can protect the lining of your dogs digestive system and stimulate the digestive juices to help break down the bone faster.
According to vet experts at Urgent Pet Care Omaha, “It may be helpful to give your dog a soft piece of food, such as a piece of bread, which will provide a form of cushioning in their stomach. Soft food can serve as a way to protect the lining of your dog’s digestive system from being scratched.”
If your dog has completely swallowed the chicken bone, its vital to ensure they digest it as quickly and effectively as possible. And if theyre dehydrated, their digestion will slow down, and the bones won’t come out the other end.
Provide access to plenty of fresh water, and consider adding water or bone broth to your dogs regular meals to make digestion even easier.
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.
Wait — Why are chicken bones bad for dogs in the first place?
Unlike the large, hard bones many of us buy for our dogs to chew “chicken bones are very soft and often leave very sharp edges when broken,” Dr. Werber says. This is what makes them especially dangerous for dogs. If your dog ate a chicken bone, he “run[s] the risk of tearing the esophagus or tearing somewhere along the intestinal tract, ” Dr. Werber says. This is why it’s so important to make sure dogs don’t have access to chicken bones.
What should I do if my dog eats chicken bones?
Should I worry if my dog ate a chicken bone?
How long after eating chicken bones would a dog get sick?
What are the symptoms of a dog eating a chicken bone?