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What do I do if my dog ate a chicken bone?

What do I do if my dog ate a chicken bone?

You've left the kitchen for a minute, only to come back and discover your dog has gotten into the trash and eaten a chicken bone. Here's what to do if your dog has eaten or swallowed a chicken bone. 

Why is it bad for dogs to eat chicken bones?

Every so often, we get a panicked dog owner calling our office asking, "My dog ate a chicken bone. What do I do?"

For thousands of years, dogs have been chewing on and eating bones. Most of the time, they process them without incident. 

Chicken bones will usually dissolve once they hit the stomach before they have a chance to become dangerous. While other bones such as pork and beef bones are significantly more dangerous and likely to cause distress and disease, there are still some potential hazards to beware of when it comes to dogs that have tried to eat chicken bones. 

Contamination Due to Bacteria

If there was still chicken on the bone and it was uncooked, your dog is at risk of exposure to bacteria such as salmonella. 

Risk of Tearing in the GI Tract

Because chicken bones splinter easily, they can cause perforation of the esophagus or intestinal tract when swallowed. 

Potential Obstruction 

While cooked bones tend to be slightly softer than raw bones some (including the thigh bone) can be difficult for a small dog to pass. 

If a dog swallows - or attempts to swallow - a chicken bone and it becomes lodged in the esophagus rather than making its way through the system, this can cause a lot of retching, gagging and drooling. 

Another scenario is that the bone becomes stuck in the upper part of the airway - either at the opening of the airway itself or the back of the throat (the pharynx). This is an immediate veterinary emergency and a dog will display significant signs of distress, such as coughing heavily or having difficulty breathing. 

Has my dog swallowed a chicken bone?

If you are worried that the bone is obstructing the upper airway or upper intestinal tract, this is classified as a veterinary emergency and will need immediate attention. 

If you are able to see or grasp the bone to remove it, do so as long as you can do so without distressing or hurting your dog further, or getting bitten or hurt yourself. 

If you suspect your dog ate chicken bones and they show any of these symptoms, get them to a veterinarian immediately:

  • Drooling
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Poor appetite 
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Retching or gagging

What should I do if my dog ate or choked on chicken bones?

If your dog is eating well, seems normal and has remained active, it's generally safe to keep monitoring the situation. 

As a rule, avoid feeding your dog bones. If your pooch does chow down on a chicken bone and appears to be in any kind of distress, act quickly and contact a vet for emergency treatment right away. 

If your dog looks to be acting normally, the bone will likely pass through the GI tract. Monitor the situation closely. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect your dog has eaten something it shouldn't have and is now in distress? Contact our vets in Everett, WA  right away during our daytime hours, or go to an after-hours animal hospital. 

New Patients Always Welcome!

Looking for a vet in Everett? Whether your pet needs routine wellness exams, surgery, geriatric care or emergency care, we look forward to welcoming you to our family at Broadway Animal Hospital located in Everett. 

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