What Do I Do if My Dog ate Chicken Bones?

Believe it or not, there’s a big difference among bones, and many don’t realize how dangerous they can be. Dogs and bones have been linked together. They are the iconic duo in literature, advertising and slang. The great British idiom, “He’s like a dog with a bone”, not only implies refusal to give up, but the determined dog who won’t let anyone take his bone away from him. Anyone who knows dogs knows that a dog and a tasty dinner bone are difficult to separate.

While the image of a huge beef bone with a dog gnawing on it is a classic one, truth is that natural bones can become a cutting and choking hazard in a dog’s esophagus. Of all bones, chicken bones are the worst for dogs. That’s because they break easily and have sharp edges when they do. Chicken bones are quite soft compared to larger and harder beef bones. Veterinarians know that chicken bones can tear the esophagus while being swallowed into the stomach and they can tear the intestinal tract anywhere along its length. Dogs should never be allowed to chew on chicken bones. The risk to their intestines are far too great.

Unfortunately, even beef and other kinds of harder bones aren’t truly safe for dogs. Though beef bones don’t shatter into sharp shards in the same way chicken bones do, dogs can gnaw on them until they fracture into small pieces which cause the dog to choke.

Chicken Bone First Aid

The first thing to do if you discover that your dog ate chicken bones is to call your veterinarian. You will want to know if your dog must be seen immediately. You should remain calm but try to take away any bones which haven’t been eaten. Some dogs become possessive about their food very quickly and you will want to try to get rid of extra chicken bones before your dog eats them.

You should also give your dog some bread to eat. The bread will help to surround the sharp chicken bones. This will help to protect your dog’s intestines from the sharp edges while the digestive juices in his stomach start to soften them.

It’s crucial to avoid making your dog throw up. Once the sharp edges are in the stomach, they have passed the esophagus without tearing it. You don’t want to bring those sharp edges back up the wrong way because they could do more damage on the way up and out.

Once the bones are down his throat, you should watch him for signs that he has intestinal blockages or bleeding. Vomiting, blood in his stool, a bloated abdomen, constipation, problems passing stools, constipation, and lethargy are all reasons to contact your vet immediately. Your vet may ask you to check your dog’s stool for bone fragments.

Vets consider surgery to remove bones from the stomach much safer than removing them from the esophagus. It’s also rare that surgery is necessary once the bones have passed into the dog’s stomach.

What to do if Your Dog Chokes on a Chicken Bone

A dog choking on a chicken bone needs almost the same kind of help that choking humans do:

  • First- clear the dog’s airway with your smallest finger by feeling if something is blocking his breathing
  • Second- perform the Heimlich maneuver if your dog still cannot breathe easily
  • Third-check the dog’s mouth to clear it of anything coming up due to the Heimlich maneuver

You can take CPR classes to learn the Heimlich maneuver at the Red Cross in your local area. There are also classes in pet CPR and first aid available at various locations. Ask your veterinarian about them. Choking on a chicken bone is exceedingly painful and has the potential to cause death. These are compelling reasons to prepare long in advance for this potential emergency.

Other Bone Risks

Every kind of natural bone can cause a problem for your dog. Beef bones have beef marrow which contains a high content of fat. Dogs do enjoy the flavor, but too much fat can lead to pancreatitis. This condition can cause problems with digesting and processing food properly.

Knuckle bones are shaped like donuts. They are hollow in the center. Many unfortunate dogs have gnawed on these until they have become stuck on their lower jaws. The bones wrap around the jaw like a clamp and can become stuck there. Rib bones commonly become painfully wedged between the dog’s molars.

Preparing for the Future

  • Figure out how your dog got chicken bones and try to avoid this circumstance from repeating.
  • Train your dog to stay away from food on the dining table or countertops.
  • Keep people food away from your dog and make certain your trash lids are closed tightly.
  • Keep watch over where your family or guests leave food and take steps to remove it so it is out of your dog’s reach.


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