The archetypal image of a dog with a bone is something that we are all familiar with, and chicken is an age-old canine favorite, but are chicken bones really safe for dogs?
What If My Dog Ate Chicken Bones? If your dog ate chicken bones, there is a risk the bones splinter or break. This can pierce internal organs and cause excruciating pain and severe side effects.
First, feed your dog something soft and bulky such as bread. This helps to cushion internal organs. Next contact your vet, who will be able to assess if your dog needs constant monitoring. Most dogs survive eating chicken bones, which usually pass within 1-2 days.
But, there are a few more specifics to be aware of. Let’s dive in.
Can Chicken Bones Kill Dogs?
Eating chicken bones can kill dogs. Choking is the most immediate threat to life, while internal blockages caused by sharp edges can be deadly if left untreated.
According to a 2017 FDA report, there were 15 dogs who died of eating bones out of a reported 90 total complications.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken Bones? Risks of Raw Bones
Dogs can, and usually do, eat chicken bones without additional complications. But, there are risks and every year dogs are also injured from eating chicken bones.
But, it isn’t just chicken bones.
Raw turkey, lamb, and beef bones are a lot safer than cooked bones. They’re generally soft enough for dogs to chew, eat, and digest.
Raw bones can even be beneficial because they are chock-full of vitamins and minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, and vitamins A, D, and E. They also contain essential fatty acids and amino acids that support a strong, healthy body and mind.
Chewing on raw bones is also good for dental health. It scrapes off bacteria and reduces plaque and tartar build-up. This prevents gum disease and freshens the breath. It stimulates the mind, relieves stress and anxiety, and makes for a calmer, happier dog.
But, chewing on raw bones does come with some serious risks, such as choking, salmonella, and tooth damage.
Save Your Choking Dog
Choking is a serious risk when chewing on raw chicken bones. When a dog is choking, they may look panicked, paw at their mouth, gag, and struggle for breath. If your dog chokes, perform the Heimlich maneuver.
The Heimlich Maneuver on Small Dogs:
Gently pick them up and put them on your lap and lay them onto their back. Next, apply pressure beneath the ribcage using the palm of your hand. Push up and down five times. Roll them onto their side and check their mouth for the bone to remove it. If there’s nothing there, repeat the previous step as necessary.
The Heimlich on Medium to Large Dogs:
Get your dog to stand and put your arms around them from behind. Clasp your hands together to make a fist underneath their ribcage. Then, push up and in five times, and check the mouth to clear it.
Alternatively, if your dog is laying down and can’t get up, put one of your hands on their back and use the other one to push or squeeze their stomach up and in before checking their mouth.
The Risk of Salmonella In Raw Chicken Bones
Eating raw chicken bones also comes with a risk of salmonella poisoning and should not be given to dogs with sensitive stomachs or weak immune systems. According to government studies, a quarter of farmed chicken meat is contaminated with salmonella. This can infect pets who eat it if it is not cooked thoroughly.
Cooking kills off salmonella bacteria, so giving your dog a raw chicken bone increases the risk of transmission. Unfortunately, there’s not really a way of cleaning a raw bone without heating it up and cooking it. But, cooking it makes the bones more brittle.
Despite their hardy immune systems, salmonella can result in stomach upsets in dogs, similarly to humans. It should go away by itself after a few days, but it can seriously harm dogs with sensitive stomachs and even be passed on to human family members.
Tooth Damage From Eating Bones
Tooth damage is also a risk when eating chicken bones. Don’t give bones to teething puppies, older dogs with weak teeth, or dogs with poor oral health.
If your dog damages a tooth, they may spit out the tooth. You’ll probably notice swelling or bleeding. You may notice them pawing at their mouth because of the pain.
Some dogs have difficulty eating and playing with hard toys. Others pull away when their owners attempt to pet their faces.
A vet can treat broken or fractured teeth. This procedure requires that your dog goes under anesthetic to perform a sealing or smoothing of the tooth, a root canal, or an extraction.
Can My Dog Eat Cooked Chicken Bones?
Cooked bones of all kinds are strictly off-limits to dogs. Some people think that cooked bones are the safer option because they are softer. While it’s true that uncooked bones can hurt the teeth, softer bones are far more dangerous.
This is because they can splinter into shards when your dog chews them. That increases the risk of choking and potentially cutting the mouth, the throat, and even the intestines. Cooked bones can cause serious damage. Large chunks of swallowed cooked bone can also cause blockages in the intestines.
How Long After Eating Cooked Chicken Bones Would a Dog Get Sick?
Mouth injuries and signs of choking should be fairly immediate, although some obvious signs of choking can take up to ten minutes after chewing and eating to be seen. Symptoms of internal injuries and blockages could take an hour or more to show themselves, so it’s important to be aware of what they are.
Signs of internal blockages include:
- An upset stomach
- inability to poop
- loss of appetite
- excessive thirst
- lip licking
- anxious pacing
- inability to get comfortable
- hunching over and whining in pain.
If your dog gets wounded by a shard of bone in their mouth or throat, they may bleed and paw. They will probably stop eating. Internal injuries can cause blood in the poop and abdominal pain.
If your dog gets wounded from eating a chicken bone, depending on the location and the severity of the wound, they may either be treated topically, with oral medication or surgically, and care must be taken to prevent infection. Bones causing internal blockages will almost certainly have to be surgically removed.
How To Keep Your Dog Safe With Chicken Bones
To keep your dog safe when it comes to chicken bones, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
But, if you really want to give your dog chicken bones, make sure it’s a whole, smooth, hardy raw bone that is bigger than their muzzle and that you can’t break. Supervise them at all times, and only let them have the bone for 10-15 minutes at a time, as a treat, and after a meal.
In between chews, be sure to keep the bone in the fridge and throw it away after a few days. Keep it in a sealed container and don’t let it touch anything in the fridge or the kitchen, and be sure to clean anything that it does touch, including your hands to avoid cross-contamination.
Take it away from them if they chew it into smaller pieces. Never give your dog a bone when an unfamiliar dog is visiting, as they could become territorial of it.
Alternatively, you could cook your chicken bone, and then blend it up in a blender or food processor. This is a safe way to feed your dog chicken bones. But you must make sure that it is ground up super fine and poses no hazard whatsoever. Once it’s ground up, sprinkle some over your dog’s dinner for a healthy, hearty, delicious meal topper!
Alternatives To Chicken Bones For Dogs
If you don’t like the idea of giving your dog raw chicken bones, but you still want the benefits, there are some alternative options to consider.
Buffalo horns, for example, are all-natural, high in protein, low in fat, and rich in calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones and muscles. They’re also great for dental hygiene, extremely long-lasting, and super affordable. Most of them usually have a hollow center, too, so they can double up as a treat-stuffing toy.
Like chicken bones, they can be hard on teeth, and can cause choking or snap into smaller, sharp pieces. That said, they are completely digestible and far less likely to cause an internal blockage than chicken bones.
Caribou antlers, on the other hand, are super soft on teeth and very easy to digest. But, they’re a little harder to find in pet stores. Commercial dental chews like Pedigree Dentastix and hardy chew toys like Kong are great for dogs of all sizes and ages, and you can find them in any local pet store. You could even improvise at home with a frozen carrot, simply put one in the freezer overnight and you’ve got a nutritious, crunchy chew toy – which is especially good for teethings pups.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much bread should you give a dog that ate chicken bones?
If your dog has eaten chicken bones and you want to give them something soft to cushion their stomach, about half a slice of high-fiber bread should suffice, or a whole slice for giant breeds.
What are the signs of Salmonella in dogs?
Signs and symptoms of salmonella in dogs include fever, nausea, stomach pain, drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and subsequent weight loss.
How to help dogs pass chicken bones?
Do not try to induce vomiting! Although that’s standard practice for certain obstructions, once the bone is in the stomach, you’re usually past the worst of it, you’ll just have to wait for it to be digested. Trying to bring it back up could scratch the esophagus and cause serious damage to the throat.