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What To Do If Your Dog Eats A Chicken Bone | Blog | AKC Pet Insurance

Pet Health and Safety  •   Richard Rowlands  •   Mar 18, 2022


With dogs, accidents can easily happen, and it only takes a moment for a dangerous situation to occur. Many dogs will steal food from the counter or your plate when you're not watching, but some human foods can be hazardous to your pup's health.

Even though you may regularly give your dog raw bones to chew on as a treat, cooked bones (like chicken bones) are dangerous. If your dog has recently eaten a chicken bone, here's what your next steps should be.

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:

1. Don't Panic

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

If your dog hasn't 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.

2. Call Your Veterinarian Immediately

Before you do anything else, 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.

3. Make Sure Your Dog Isn't Choking

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

Unfortunately, if their airway is completely blocked, they won't be able to make any noise at all, so you'll have to pay extra close attention to their body language. If your dog is choking, don't wait to call your vet. You need to take immediate action.

First, check inside your dog's mouth to see if you can remove whatever object is lodged in their throat. If you're 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.

4. Monitor Your Dog's Behavior

If your dog has already eaten the bone and it's not lodged in their airways, you'll need to watch for signs of blockage or internal bleeding. If your dog displays any of the following symptoms, take them to your veterinarian immediately:

  • Vomiting repeatedly
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Refusal to drink
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Whining
  • Lethargy
  • Not passing bowel movements

If your dog appears to be active and eating and drinking normally, then it's likely that they'll be okay. In this case, you can continue to monitor the situation without seeking immediate medical assistance.

You'll want to watch your dog's stool for several days after they eat the bone for signs of bone fragments. In addition, you should still follow up with your vet in case there's any remaining bone left in your dog's intestines or esophagus.

5. Don't Induce Vomiting

For many foreign substances that your dog consumes, your veterinarian may encourage you to induce vomiting to get rid of the toxic substance before it can settle in the stomach. For bones, however, this is extremely dangerous.

By inducing vomiting, you risk the chicken bone getting stuck in the esophagus on the way back up or causing more lacerations to your dog's airways.

6. Give Your Dog a Soft Piece of Food

If your dog is still willing to eat, a soft piece of food like bread can act as a cushioning around the sharp bone in their stomach. It can protect the lining of your dog's digestive system and stimulate the digestive juices to help break down the bone faster.

Only feed small pieces of food at a time, and make sure your dog eats slowly to prevent the bone from causing any further damage.

7. Keep Your Dog Hydrated

If your dog has completely swallowed the chicken bone, it's vital to make sure they digest it as quickly and effectively as possible. And if they're dehydrated, their digestion will slow.

Provide access to plenty of fresh water and consider adding water to your dog's regular meals to make digestion even easier.

Why Are Chicken Bones Bad for Dogs?

Cooked bones like chicken bones are softer than the raw bones that you may buy from the pet store to give your dog to chew on. Because they're softer, they can easily splinter while your pup chews on them.

When the bone splinters, it creates sharp edges that can damage your dog's mouth, airways, and gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to restrictions to their breathing, painful lacerations, and potentially life-threatening infections.

Bones can also:

  • Be a choking hazard
  • Cause a blockage in your dog's small intestine or colon
  • Get stuck in your dog's stomach
  • Be contaminated with pathogens like Salmonella

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 they eat a chicken bone, they will be fine. The bone will pass regularly through their digestive tract without causing any damage.

However, it's still important to be cautious and check with your veterinarian immediately after consumption. Your vet will be able to give you next steps that will help you keep your dog safe.

You should also always practice caution with bones around your dog. Keep all food out of your dog's reach and dispose of bones quickly as soon as you've finished your meal.

The best way to protect your dog is to prevent them from eating bones in the first place. So, always be aware of what they're scavenging when you're outside and keep an eye on them when they're around food.

Take some of the stress out of doggy dining mishaps with Accident & Illness Coverage from AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company). Our dog pet insurance plans are designed to be there when you need them, allowing you to focus more on the health of your pet and less on costly veterinary bills. Click here for a quote today!

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