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Does My Dog Need to Go to the Vet After Eating a Chicken Bone?

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.

Does your dog need to go to the vet after eating chicken bones?

Does your dog need to go to the vet after eating chicken bones?

Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?

They can when the bones are raw, since those are soft and easy to swallow. It is normal for people who give their dogs raw food to include chicken bones as part of the diet. I usually give my dogs the necks, with the fatty skin removed, but chicken wings and chicken wing tips also provide a great source of calcium.

Should I Go to the Vet?

Dogs like to eat almost everything they find when out for a walk, and if your dog finds a chicken bone, he is going to try to eat it. Should you panic and jump in your car to get your dog to the vet whenever it happens?

To be blunt, no.

I have seen many dogs eat chicken bones over the years with no problems. My own dogs eat raw chicken bones almost every day. They consume a diet that includes chicken necks, feet, carcasses, and wings, and eating the bones is the way in which they get their calcium.

Many dogs that live out on the street also eat cooked chicken bones. I would not recommend this as a healthy diet, and certainly would not feed my own dogs this way, but those dogs are not suffering from torn throats and obstructions. They eat, chew the bones properly, and survive on other foods that make their stools bulky.

After eating a chicken bone you should not force your dog to vomit.

After eating a chicken bone you should not force your dog to vomit.

How to Prepare a Bulk Laxative for Your Dog

If your dog does eat some chicken bones, there is probably not going to be a problem. Feed her something to make sure that she has extra stools for the next few days, and they will probably pass without harm.

  • Cook some fresh pumpkin or open up a can of pumpkin, but not the pie filling that has added spices. My dogs only like this dish if I add fresh papaya, and since I have several trees in my yard I almost always have this available. Dried shrimp powder is also very palatable. You should know your dog and be familiar with what she likes to eat. (Hamburger grease, bacon bits or grease, or parmesan cheese—be creative and find something she enjoys and wants to eat, even when mixed with pumpkin!)
  • Add some Metamucil (psyllium fiber) to the food so that it will draw more water to the stool and make it even bulkier. It is a good idea to always have this product on hand. The dose is about one teaspoonful to every 10 kilos (about 22 pounds) of your dog's weight.
  • Lentils are another food that is considered bulk laxatives and will help your dog pass the chicken bones. Some dogs like the taste, while others do not, so mix them in with beans according to the dog´s preference. You can mix up half pumpkin and half lentils if your dog will eat this mixture.
Pumpkin is a good bulk laxative but not all dogs like the taste.

Pumpkin is a good bulk laxative but not all dogs like the taste.

After the Laxative

Let your dog eat as much of the pumpkin and lentil mixture as she wants. I have never seen a dog overeat when offered this mixture, but if your dog is prone to gastric bloating you will need to feed her a smaller meal every hour.

  • Feed your dog the pumpkin/lentil mixture.
  • Make sure water is available at your dog's discretion.
  • Take her for several long walks in the next 12 hours to encourage her to pass stool. If there is an area where she can run off leash she is much more likely to stop and pass stool.
  • Do not worry if you are not able to see the chicken bones in the stool. Most dogs will chew the bones and they will be digested normally.
If your dog is vomiting after eating bones, she may be obstructed.

If your dog is vomiting after eating bones, she may be obstructed.

Is An Obstruction Possible?

Some dogs are so used to being yelled at and having bones taken away from them that they will “wolf” them down without even swallowing. These are the dogs most likely to have problems with choking or the bones becoming stuck in the bowels (an obstruction) later. You need to learn how to handle a choking dog so that if this happens when out on a walk you can save her life.

If your dog already swallowed all of the bones whole, and you are worried about your dog having an obstruction, these are the most common symptoms:

Symptoms of Obstruction

  • Vomiting is the main sign, and almost all of the dogs I have seen over the years have this sign. It is hard to ignore, but some other dogs will just drool a lot, which may be kind of normal for the breed.
  • A swollen abdomen, usually painful. (Some dogs do not want to lie down, others will turn around and look at their belly.)
  • Diarrhea or black stools.

If it goes on for a while, some dogs will have:

  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • If the dog is not drinking, dehydration

If your dog does have the symptoms of obstruction in the days following his chicken bone incident, I would recommend you take him in to see her regular veterinarian.

If you do not know the answer to this question, spend a few minutes today and find out!

What You Can Do

This is one method to teach your dog "leave it". This command is important if you come across chicken bones or other tasty and potentially dangerous edibles when out for your daily walk.

A dog that swallows chicken bones without chewing is at risk of choking.

A dog that swallows chicken bones without chewing is at risk of choking.

Closing Thoughts

Ask your regular veterinarian how common this problem is in his clinic, and how many dogs have died in his clinic after eating chicken bones.

You might be surprised.

Further Reading

  • How to Save a Choking Dog's Life
    Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and find out what to do if your dog does choke on a chicken bone. You might end up saving her life.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: My dog got a hold of a cooked chicken bone. She only got about a half maybe less of the bone down before I realized and got it away from her. She started having diarrhea some slightly bloody, mostly not. She is drinking; she is eating. I mean I can tell she doesn't feel good but she's up and down the stairs no issues jumping on and off the bed, she's just kind of lazy today, more so than usual. Is there a possibility that the blood is just from passing the slivers of bone?

Answer: Yes, it is possible that she just has an "upset tummy" from eating the bones. Unless she starts vomiting I woujld not be overly concerned.

If she does become lethargic, or starts vomiting, you should get her in to see your regular vet and have her examined for an obstruction.

Question: How do I know if my dog has an obstruction?

Answer: The first sign that people notice is vomiting. Dogs will usually not want to eat, will have a tender abdomen, act kind of "blah," and not be able to go potty or if they do go will have a loose stool.

If your dog does have any of these signs, get him checked out by your veterinarian.

Question: Can dogs survive after eating chicken bones?

Answer: Dogs can survive after eating chicken bones. As the article indicates, sometimes it is not even a problem.

Question: If I ground the tiny bones in cooked chicken necks, can I feed it to my dogs?

Answer: I assume you are talking about grinding cooked chicken bone necks to a fine powder. Yes, you can feed your dog a calcium powder.

I also have seen people eat whole chicken necks with no problems. As long as the bones are chewed thoroughly, they are not a problem. (Dogs do not chew thoroughly though, so crushing the bones is a much better idea before giving it to your dog.)

© 2016 Mark dos Anjos DVM


Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 13, 2020:

Shay, if he ate a whole drumstick it would probably just lodge in the stomach and be broken down by the acids. I am not sure you are going to ever see anything in the stool. As long as he is not vomiting do not worry, but if he starts you will need to take him in for xrays of the stomach.

Shay on July 13, 2020:

Hi Doctor.. my 1.5 year old a Cockapoo ate 1 cooked chicken bone on Saturday night (it is now Monday). It was the drumstick type of bone, not the “flat wing” bone that has the 2 smaller bones attached. I’m pretty sure he ate it whole because we yelled and it was gone very fast. He has been fine, eating, drinking, playing. No vomiting. Loose stool but not super bad diarrhea. No signs of pain when I gently push around on his organ areas. However he’s pooped a few times since then and I haven’t seen any bones.. when they poop them out do they come out whole if it was swallowed whole? Or will their digestive track break it down smaller?? I’m not sure what to look for in his stool! Thanks in advance!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 30, 2020:

Sheryl, see the article above about a laxative and what to do after that. Monitor for vomiting.

Sheryl on May 29, 2020:

My do just ate a whole cooked chicken carcass. It was a small one but she did eat the whole thing. She is a lab. I am very worried. What can I do to make sure she will be ok.

Tim Wiggins on October 25, 2019:

My big dog who weighs 130 pounds ate a cooked chicken leg and it ia the weekend no vet

Michelle fortt on September 16, 2019:

Hi my dog has ate 6 chicken drumsticks bones. When I was sleep last night. She seems fine she's eaten been to toliet normal. I have phoned vets they said unless she is sick etc she should be k. Should I just keep an eye on her and hope they will come out of her system. Michelle fortt

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 17, 2018:

Heather, since the bone was raw I would not worry about taking her to the vet at this time. Try feeding her a bulky meal as described in the article (pumpkin, for example). As long as she does not start having any symptoms of obstruction (like vomiting) your dog probably digested the bone, even if you did not see it in the feces.

Good idea to chop them in half from now on though! Labs are real chow hounds.

Heather on November 17, 2018:

Our dog, black lab, scarfed down a whole raw chicken leg night before last without chewing at all. My husband has given him chicken legs plenty in the past and he always chewed them before so we never worried. Last night he seemed constipated but was still hungry and thirsty my husband said not to feed him until it passes through his stool. This morning he had a big solid stool but it did not contain bone or anything that I could see. Should I keep feeding him, take him to a vet, what? It’s been Between 24 and 36 hours since he ate it. Thank you Dr. Mark

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 05, 2018:

Paulette, she most likely has already chewed them up. You can give her a bulk laxative as described but if she is not vomiting or has diarrhea your dog is probably fine.

Paulette Cronce on November 05, 2018:

My dog, black lab blue heeler mix ate 1 thigh, 3 wings, and 1 breast. She has pooped 3 times since then but I don't see any bones. Did she possibly chew them up? Her stool is hard so I will try the softener above. She did this Saturday night and today is Monday morning. I hope we are out of the woods soon, my daughter is going to freak!!

Stacey on September 01, 2018:

My dog ate 6 xhicken wings at 2 oclock

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 16, 2018:

Bella, you should prepare a laxative as described in the article. If your dog starts vomiting or has diarrhea, especially if it has blood or is black, take her to your vet.

Bella on April 15, 2018:

My 15 month old Border Collie ate 2 chicken wings today. I am so worried, its been a few hours now and she seems fine, she even ate her dinner and is now sleeping. Should I take her to the vet or should I just keep an eye on her? Thank you so much!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 03, 2018:

If she is obese, the problem may be garbage gut/pancreatitis, not a problem with the bones. If you want to wait a few hours and see how she is doing fasting that is okay. With a small dog, however, she can get sick very fast. I cannot what kind of shape she is in so it is impossible for me to tell you if she needs to go to the vet right away.

Alicia elliott on March 03, 2018:

Yesterday my pug chiuahha hound mix either ate or swallowed 6 chicken wing bones today she is puking should I take her to the vet

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 03, 2018:

Wilson, chicken wings should pass just fine. If you need another bulk laxative though try the pumpkin suggested above. I hope they are both okay.

Wilson on March 02, 2018:

I have a redbone coonhound & a black lab. One or probably both got into the garbage when we were at work. It’s winter out. 2 lbs of chicken wing bones gone not even a drop of sauce nothing. It’s been 12 hrs so far so good. I fed them hamburger with grease as well as bread to soften or cushion the bones.

Gio the shih tau on November 28, 2017:

Good information my dog ate cooked chicken bones and I was so worried but now I feel a bit better thx

Suhail and my dog on October 09, 2016:

Very informative article. I am glad I read it. I will save it for easy reference. My dog is food motivated and I always fear that he may eat a cooked bone at a dumpster or in a park during my hikes and get it stuck somewhere.

However, I am not afraid of feeding him raw chicken legs, including the bone, because I have confirmed that raw meat and bones are actually good for the dogs, something that I think you have endorsed in this article.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 19, 2016:

Hi Penny thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope your summer went well up there.

Penny Leigh Sebring from Fort Collins on September 19, 2016:

Good information!