That moment your pup snatches a discarded chicken bone before you can grab it. You feel your stomach drop, wondering what if my dog ate chicken bones, if they’ll choke or become sick? Bone ingestion strikes fear in many dog owners.
But when Fido gets into cooked chicken bones, all hope isn’t lost. Understanding the risks, signs of trouble, and smart actions to take can ensure your dog avoids serious harm.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about dogs and chicken bones. You’ll gain the knowledge to respond appropriately should your sneaky canine steal one off your plate.
Table of Contents
Let’s start by looking at the risks and benefits of cooked chicken bones for dogs so you know what you’re dealing with.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Chicken Bones Safely?
Many people advise never to feed dogs any bones to avoid potential choking hazards or damage. However, the risks depend on factors like:
- Cooked poultry bones – More brittle so higher choking risk. Can cause obstructions or punctures.
- Raw marrow bones – Typically crush rather than splinter. Considered safer options when supervised.
- Small bones – Higher likelihood of choking or wedging in the throat, mouth or intestinal tract.
- Large bones – More likely to pass through the digestive system or be crushed. Lower obstruction risk.
- Small/medium dogs – Greater danger of choking on bones proportionately sized for bigger dogs.
- Large/giant breeds – Chicken bones less likely to lodge in throat or gut due to size. Still can puncture or splinter if swallowed though.
So while not recommended, cooked chicken bones are generally less hazardous for larger dogs compared to small breeds. But proactively avoiding access is best.
Now that we’ve assessed the risks, let’s look at signs of trouble and protocol to follow if your dog consumes chicken bones.
My Dog Ate Chicken Bones! What To Do?
Staying calm but taking quick action maximizes your dog’s safety if they eat chicken bones. Here are the steps to take:
1. Check for Choking
If you witnessed the ingestion, assess their breathing. Are they coughing, wheezing or showing signs of respiratory distress?
If there’s obstruction, follow first aid steps:
- Open mouth to remove blockage if visible
- Perform doggy Heimlich maneuver
- Get emergency vet assistance
2. Monitor Closely
If breathing normally, continue observing for at least 48 hours for signs of distress:
- Attempts at vomiting but unsuccessful
- Swollen abdomen
- Loss of appetite
Trouble eliminating or any obvious pain also warrant an immediate vet visit.
3. Call Your Vet
Consult your vet even without symptoms to discuss potential risks and have guidance on hand just in case. Inform them of the following:
- When were the bones ingested?
- What types of bones?
- How large were the bones?
- Your dog’s size/age/health status
Follow their advice for what to watch for and when to seek emergency care. Waiting and watching is often recommended first unless choking occurred.
4. Feed a Fiber-Rich Diet
Adding extra fiber from foods like canned pumpkin, rice or low-fat yogurt may help bones pass through without issue. Avoid fatty foods that worsen digestion.
5. Limit Rigorous Exercise
Restrict high-intensity exercise and activities that could further impact digestion like tug toys. Stick to leash walks only.
6. Monitor Poop
Check your dog’s stools for the next 5-7 days for any traces of problematic bones. If appearing normal, the bones likely passed without incident.
By taking the proper steps, most dogs recover just fine after eating cooked chicken bones without intervention. But call the vet right away if you have any concerns. We’ll cover more serious scenarios next.
When To Worry – Symptoms of Chicken Bones Causing Harm
While many dogs pass bones uneventfully,severe or escalating symptoms warrant an emergency vet trip for evaluation:
- Repeated attempts at vomiting without producing anything
- Signs of abdominal pain – whining, stretching, sensitivity
- Distended belly indicating obstruction
- Inability to pass stool due to blockage
- Bowel perforation or tearing
- Dehydration from vomiting or diarrhea
- Lethargy, weakness indicating blood loss or toxicity
If bones get stuck and damage the intestines, they can cause potentially life-threatening peritonitis requiring urgent surgical removal.
Catching obstruction early maximizes successful outcomes. Now let’s look at why most chicken bones still clear without issue.
Can Dogs Safely Digest Chicken Bones?
Dogs, as opportunistic scavengers, have digestive systems evolved to consume bones along with their food. Here’s why most bones pass through harmlessly:
Acidic Stomach Environment
Dogs have a very acidic stomach pH of 1-2 compared to humans closer to 4-5. This strong acidity helps break down bone material.
Shorter Digestive Tract
With a shorter intestinal tract than humans, bones typically won’t sit in the stomach long enough to splinter. They pass more quickly.
Strong Stomach Contractions
The canine stomach churns with enough force to make bones smaller and soften their edges before entering the intestines.
Crushing Chew Strength
Back teeth designed for chewing bone apply up to 150-200 psi of pressure – enough to crush most bones swallowed.
So while chicken bones pose some risk, dogs are anatomically adapted to consume bones safely in most scenarios. Still, prevention is key for avoiding issues.
Preventing Chicken Bones in Your Dog’s Diet
The best approach is keeping chicken bones away from dogs entirely. Here are some tips:
- Supervise anytime chicken is being consumed to prevent sneaking scraps.
- Trash bones immediately into closed bins dogs can’t access. Never leave leftover bones unattended.
- Train a strong “leave it” command and reward ignoring food you drop.
- Crate dogs away from the dining area during meals.
- If offering recreational bones, select safer options like raw marrow bones.
While cooked chicken bones can potentially puncture or obstruct, with vigilance and quick response you can limit risks. Let’s recap the key steps if bones still get swallowed.
What To Do if Your Dog Eats Chicken Bones – Recap
Here are the critical steps if your dog consumes cooked chicken bones:
- Check immediately for choking and clear airway if needed. Perform doggy Heimlich.
- Contact your vet to inform them and have guidance on any symptoms of concern.
- Monitor closely for the next 2 days minimum for signs of distress like lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea.
- Avoid strenuous exercise or play that can affect digestion.
- Feed a bland diet along with added fiber like canned pumpkin to assist passing bones.
- Check stools for shards over the following week but don’t worry if appearing normal.
- Rush to emergency vet for severe symptoms like swelling, pain, blockage or perforation.
- Discuss ways to better “bone proof” your home so it doesn’t happen again!
Chicken Bones and Dogs FAQs
Here are answers to some common questions about dogs consuming cooked chicken bones:
Will my dog be okay if he swallowed a cooked chicken bone?
In most cases, dogs will pass chicken bones without issue thanks to their highly acidic digestive system. Monitor for symptoms, feed a bland diet, and contact your vet for guidance. Only seek emergency care if signs of obstruction, perforation or toxicity appear.
How long does it take for a dog to pass a chicken bone?
Chicken bones can take 10-60 hours to fully pass through a dog’s digestive system. Check the stools for several days to one week after ingestion to ensure the bone fully passed.
Can dogs safely digest cooked chicken bones?
While not recommended, most dogs can digest cooked chicken bones thanks to their strong stomach acid, shorter digestive tract, crushing teeth and forceful contractions. But dogs should be monitored closely. Raw bones are safer.
Do cooked chicken bones eventually digest?
In most cases, cooked chicken bones are softened by stomach acid and eventually pass through or dissolve once ingested by dogs. But the risk of choking means bones should be kept away from dogs completely. Monitor dogs closely after accidental ingestion.
While scary in the moment, try to stay calm. With prompt responses, most dogs recover just fine after eating cooked chicken bones without complications. Call me anytime for coaching, if needed!