Dog Ate Chicken Bones? What To Do Next

Did your pup get his paws on a chicken bone? Learn the risks of your dog eating a chicken bone and when it might be time to call a veterinarian for help.

Vanessa Armstrong

Updated December 14, 2022 • Published March 24, 2022

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Dog Ate Chicken Bones? What To Do Next

If you have a dog, it's likely no surprise that our furry friends can get their paws on things that they shouldn’t. This is especially true when it comes to human food, whether it’s something left on a table or something they’ve had the gumption to pull out of an unsecured trash can. 

Chicken bones are one thing that veterinarians generally don’t recommend your dog eat. Dogs sometimes eat things without our blessing, however, so what should you do if your precocious pup manages to gobble some down? 

The team at Pawp is there whenever you need them to give you specific help and advice. This post also has general information about what could happen to your dog if they eat chicken bones, and what you should do about it.  

What happens when your dog eats a chicken bone

The good news about your dogs and chicken bones is that it’s very possible your pup will be just fine. 

“A lot of dogs are perfectly capable of eating chicken bones without having any issues whatsoever,” explains veterinarian Dr. Jo Myers, DVM. “The risks associated with this depend on the size of the dog, the amount and type of chicken bones consumed, the health status of the dog, and just plain luck. The problem is that on occasion, chicken bones will end up causing problems, and when they do, those problems are serious.”

Chicken and turkey bones are more brittle than other types of bones, and as such, have a higher complication of risk. While not common, some of those potential problems include a splintered piece of bone piercing the gastrointestinal tract, your pup choking, or—especially if your dog has eaten a large number of bones—potential blockage. 

“If a dog manages to consume a large enough quantity of chicken bones to cause a blockage, then you will see symptoms like vomiting for more than 24 hours, appetite loss, depression, and usually no bowel movements at all,” says Dr. Myers. Those symptoms are similar if your dog gets a puncture (peritonitis) or an inflammation of the pancreas, which can cause pain and severe gastrointestinal upset (pancreatitis). 

Your dog can also have some minor symptoms, especially if they have a sensitive stomach to begin with. These symptoms include vomiting (though not for more than 24 hours) and diarrhea. 

Read: Dog Diarrhea: Why Does Your Dog Have It? How Can You Stop It?

If your dog happens get a bone (or anything else) stuck in his mouth, the signs are immediate and obvious. “The dog is going to paw at his mouth and do his best to dislodge it himself,” explains Dr. Myers. “He may also lick a lot and have excessive drooling.”

What to do when your dog eats a chicken bone

If your dog eats a chicken bone and shows no signs of distress, you don’t have be distressed either.

“The vast majority of dogs who eat a small chicken bone, especially if they chew it up, can pass it without an issue,” says Dr. Myers. 

If your dog has been vomiting for more than 24 hours, however—especially if you haven’t been feeding them in that time—you and your pup should head to the vet. You should also head to the veterinarian’s office if they exhibit any of the severe symptoms listed above for a blockage, peritonitis, or pancreatitis.

“In short, you should go to the vet if it appears your dog is experiencing anything other than a run-of-the-mill, mild, temporary upset stomach,” Dr. Myers says. 

If your dog has their airway partially and fully blocked, that is an emergency-level event that may require you to do a modified Heimlich maneuver to clear it. A dog, however, isn’t more likely to choke on a chicken bone than anything else, so this is a rare occurrence. 

Another chicken bone-related issue that may require a vet visit is if your dog gets a bone stuck in their teeth, as you’ll sometimes need a professional to get it removed.

Overall, however, your dog eating a chicken bone in and of itself isn’t a reason to panic or head to the vet, especially if your pup is in good health otherwise. In the rare event that your dog is clearly choking or has the severe symptoms listed above, you should get professional help to get your furry friend feeling better.

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