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

Updated on April 9, 2018
DrMark1961 profile image

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

Dogs love finding chicken bones when out for a walk.
Dogs love finding chicken bones when out for a walk. | Source

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?

No.

I have seen many dogs eat chicken bones over the years with no problems. My own dogs eat chicken bones, raw, 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. | Source

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 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 each 10 kilos (about 22 pounds) of your dog´s weight.
  • Lentils are another food that are bulk laxatives and will help your dog pass the chicken bones. Some dogs like the taste, others do not, so mix them in with the 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. | Source

Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?

When the bones are raw they 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.

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 free choice.
  • 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. | Source

Is An Obstruction Possible?

Some dogs are so used to being yelled at 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:

  • 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 her in to see her regular veterinarian.

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

My dog does not like and would never eat:

See results

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.

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. | Source

Questions & Answers

  • How do I know if my dog has an obstruction?

    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.

  • Can dogs survive after eating chicken bones?

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

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

    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 Dr Mark

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    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      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.

    • profile image

      Bella 

      4 months ago

      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!

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      5 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      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.

    • profile image

      Alicia elliott 

      5 months ago

      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

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      5 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      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.

    • profile image

      Wilson 

      5 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Gio the shih tau 

      8 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Suhail and my dog 

      22 months ago

      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.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      23 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

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

    • Penny Sebring profile image

      Penny Sebring 

      23 months ago from Fort Collins

      Good information!

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