My Dog Ate Chicken Bones

Eating cooked chicken bones can be dangerous to your dog.

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Can dogs eat chicken bones? Well, yes, he can. Should a dog eat chicken bones? If the bones are cooked, the answer is absolutely not! Cooked bones are dangerous.

There are many people who feed raw chicken (including bones) to their dogs as part of a “bones and raw food” (BARF) diet. But there is more involved to feeding raw chicken safely than just handing your dog a raw wing or leg. For guidance on feeding raw bones as part of a BARF diet, see “Feeding Raw Bones.”

Why Chicken Bones Are Bad

Many veterinarians will say the dangers of eating chicken bones are a myth, adding that dogs have eaten them for centuries. But, in the next breath, the same veterinarian will likely tell you about a dog or two who choked or had to have emergency surgery for a perforated intestine, adding, so your dog shouldn’t eat chicken bones.

Once they reach the dog’s stomach, acids and enzymes normally dissolve chicken bones. But there’s always that one dog who chokes (from eating too quickly and not chewing sufficiently) or gets a bone fragment caught or a piece embedded somewhere in his digestive tract . . .

Treatment If Your Dog Ate Bones

What should you do if your dog ate some cooked chicken bones? First, stay calm—it will do neither of you any good to panic! If you catch him in the act, take the bone out of his mouth, if you can. If you have a hemostat in your first-aid kit, use that.

If you’re not quick enough to remove the bone before he swallows it, check for blood in his mouth or in his throat. If you see none—and your dog is acting normally—he’ll probably be OK. Note: Do not induce vomiting. There is more risk from the bone fragments coming back up.

Even so, though, it’s wise to give him soft food, like a little white bread and/or a tablespoon of plain canned pumpkin in his meals for a few days, to help move the bone pieces out. Encourage consumption of water, adding a little broth, if necessary, to keep him well-hydrated. (Always have a second bowl of plain water available, too.)

Check his poop for three days to see if there is any bone or blood and to monitor him for bloating, vomiting, bowel changes, or other discomfort like lethargy, lack of appetite, whining, and so on. Call your veterinarian immediately if you see these things.

To be sure your dog is fine, put chicken bones where he can’t reach them—even though he’s telling you that chicken and turkey taste great!

 

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John Strassburger was the editor of The Chronicle of the Horse from 1986-2006 and worked for the magazine as a special correspondent until 2010. He was then training editor for the Horse Journal until 2017. He has been the owner and trainer at Phoenix Farm in Santa Rosa, Calif., since 2006. He is a graduate A from the U.S. Pony Clubs and has competed in eventing to the three-star level. He has owned about a dozen dogs since he was a teenager and now owns a Doberman Pinscher named Boreas and a Livestock Guardian Dog named Isis. He is married and has a 13-year-old son.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I have fed raw chicken necks and backs for 15 years as part of a biologically appropriate raw food diet and have had amazing results re long term health of my canine companions. My understanding is when cooked the bones are more easily fragmented with sharp edges so I don’t ever feed cooked. My dog has found some cooked chicken bones outside and scarfed them down before I could stop her and head been fine but I would avoid.

  2. I, respectfully, disagree.
    RAW chicken bones should not be a problem, (for medium to large dogs) as they are soft and easily chewed.
    (Unless you have a dog that bolts the entire thing and doesn’t chew it.)
    My current dog has been eating raw backs, wings, and drumsticks daily for almost 9 years with NO problems. My previous dog ate them for 12 years.
    Cooked bones become hard, brittle, and splinter. THESE are very dangerous.
    That said, user discretion is advised.
    Sincerely,
    Kitti

  3. I agree with Kitti. Cooked bones of any kind – avoid feeding them. Cooking chemically changes them to be harder and more splinter-y. Test this yourself by breaking a raw chicken wingbone vs. a cooked one. Raw bones – it depends on your dog’s size, personality, & health level & the type of bone. Large weightbearing bones (like beef legs) tend to be harder than smaller non-weightbearing ones (like chicken wings or necks,) i’ve fed exclusively raw since 1998. Some of my dogs (mostly golden retrievers, including dozens of foster dogs) ate very slowly & methodically, chewing well. Some would swallow as big a piece of meat as they were given, bones or not. Once, I even had to do a Heimlich maneuver to keep one from choking to death. From then on, she only got bones while I was holding them so she’d eat slowly (Note: I don’t recommend feeding bones by hand in general, because you have to be very careful the dog doesn’t bite you inadvertently. It’s hard to distinguish between a chicken wing & human finger in the heat of the moment.) Bones of some kind are needed in a home-prepared raw diet, but some companies make high-quality powdered supplements if there’s a reason you don’t want to feed your dogs bones. Just thought I would share my experiences.

  4. I have fed raw drumsticks to all of my dogs for years without issue. They chew them, swallow them, and enjoy them. They are a good source of protein and fats, and keep their teeth clean. Cooked bones should never be given, raw chicken bones are fine for medium and big sized dogs.

  5. I have been feeding raw bones (chicken, duck, fish, turkey, pork) for decades with no issues. I don’t give the dogs beef bones because they are too large and hard. I have always had Labrador Retrievers and so I think that it is important to size the bones to the dog. As others have said here they are a good source of protein and fats and the potassium/calcium balance is perfect. At the same time I also use the bones/vegetables after making chicken and turkey soup for the humans and I put this “mash” through my grinder add some liquids and make them into dog “ice cubes” which my dogs have thoroughly enjoyed for many years (far better than store-bought treats).

  6. I love WDJ and the articles are always on point, until this one. How can the writer not differentiate between cooked and uncooked bones, or address that he is applying this information to both conditions? I’m certain he must appreciate the difference, as those who wrote comments obviously do? This subject is worthy of a ‘do over’.

    • Yes, why is Whole DOG Journal putting out articles written by someone who appears to have no idea what he is writing about?

      I am another of these crazy people who intentionally feed their dogs raw bones!
      I started my current GSP with chicken and duck necks when she was a few months old, and learned that she would swallow chunks without chewing. I learned from a WDJ series on raw feeding to hold onto the bone with pliers for your dog to chew. A very bonding few minutes, for sure!

    • Thank you for pointing out the problems with the article as initially posted. I’m sorry to report that an error led to it getting posted before it had been properly readied for publication. We absolutely support the feeding of diets that include raw bone; however, we’d like readers who are new to that concept and interested in raw diets to read “Feeding Raw Bones,” which is linked in the above article. – Nancy Kerns, Editor

  7. I think the author is mostly referring to cooked bones which in the case of chicken are very dangerous. Cooked bones of any kind should be avoided as they get hard and brittle. If they don’t shatter into splinters they could break teeth. i don’t buy any sort of bones you find in the pet store. And I absolutely will not give them cooked bones of any kind.

    I do buy raw bones from the butcher, mostly cow because that is what they have but I have also been able to get lamb bones occasionally. If it’s a rib they get the rib as is. If it’s a big leg bone I have them cut them down the length so the dogs can easily get at the marrow and enjoy chewing some of the remains from the outside of the bone. They’re gathered up a few days later and discarded as even raw bones will get hard and brittle.

    The vet has commented on how white and clean my dogs’ teeth are. They get an occasional raw bone, bully stick (no shorter than 6 inches) in addition to their dry kibble and some Milk Bones.

    I have given them an occasional raw turkey or chicken neck but not often as there are three of them and I can’t always get enough for all three.

  8. i am glad to see this was explained but I think the article should be pulled. I have come to rely upon WDJ as a credible source of info. but this piece jumped out as wrong or unnecessarily alarmist. thank you.