Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?

If you’re a dog owner, you may have been told not to give your dog chicken bones. You may also have heard that raw chicken bones are good for your dog. With the vast amount of opinions and information available, it can get pretty confusing when it comes to whether or not to give your dog bones. Here we give you the low down on whether chicken bones are good or bad for your dog.


Photo by Anoir Chafik on Unsplash

Are chicken bones bad for dogs? 

Dogs who eat chicken bones are usually able to process them without any problems. Chicken bones will be dissolved and digested when they reach the stomach. The bones will usually be passed without fuss most of the time. However, chicken bones can be potentially dangerous for the following reasons:

Potential obstruction 

Chicken bones can be dangerous when dogs try to swallow them whole. They can become stuck in the esophagus on the way down causing your dog to gag, drool and retch. 

It can also become lodged in the back of your dog’s throat or at the start of your dog’s airway. If this happens, your dog will choke and have trouble breathing. You dog might try to cough heavily to try and dislodge the bone. 

As such, it is better to treat chicken bones as potential choking hazards and avoid giving it to your dog. Dog owners should also take some time to learn what to do if dogs choke in case of emergencies. 

Risk of tearing the GI tract

Chicken bones, especially when they are cooked can splinter easily. They can be sharp and cause the perforation of your dog’s esophagus and/or the intestinal tract. This can lead to infections and inflammations which require immediate medical attention.  

Contamination from bacteria

If the chicken bone is raw, bacteria such as salmonella may be present. This can cause your dog to become very ill. Symptoms of illness caused by salmonella include fever, cramping, as well as vomiting and diarrhea presenting with blood and/or mucous. 

Can dogs eat raw chicken bones?

The simple answer is yes, dogs can eat raw chicken bones. It is natural for dogs to feed on raw bones and they are a good source of calcium and phosphorus. In fact, dogs’ digestive systems are designed to process bones. This is especially so if the bones are part of a nice, meaty meal. 


Thus, if your dog has consumed some raw chicken bones, it’s best to feed it a meal so that the bone will be digested together. The meal will also encourage your dog’s stomach to produce stomach acids which will help to digest and dissolve the bones. 

If you do decide to give your dog chicken bones, use parts like chicken wing tips and neck pieces. Always cut them up into small, flattened pieces to prevent it from getting lodged in your dog’s throat. 

Can dogs eat cooked chicken bones? 

Cooked chicken bones, or any cooked bones for the matter, is considered to be more dangerous than raw bones. 

This is because cooked bones are softer and more brittle. This causes it to splinter more easily than raw bones, therefore, increasing the risk of damaging a dog’s mouth, throat and/or digestive tract. 

Cooked bones are also drained of their nutrients. Thus, it is better to avoid them altogether as dogs do not really need to eat cooked chicken bones. 

What to do if my dog ate chicken bones?

Despite our best efforts to keep our dogs away from bones, our pets can get into things really fast. Dogs getting into leftover food, digging the bin or ‘stealing’ from the dining table are not tales that are unheard of. So here’s what you should do if your dog ate chicken bones.

Stay calm

The best thing you can do if you suspect that your dog has eaten chicken bones (or any bones) is to stay calm. If you catch your dog in the act, remove the rest of the bones calmly. Do remember that dogs can be possessive over food and thus, try to gobble everything up before you can remove it. 

Keeping your cool will also keep your dog calm. Panicking will confuse your dog and this can lead to dangerous outcomes. 

Prevent further access

If indeed your dog has eaten chicken bones, make sure that it can’t eat any more. You may have to keep your dog away while you clean up any spilled bones. If you have other pets, it’s also wise to make sure that other animals in the house are not able to get to the bones.

Call your vet

Your vet will be able to advise you on what to do as well as what not to do. Additionally, your vet will also be able to weigh the risk of whether your dog should be brought in for a check up based on factors such as its breed and size. 

Most vets will tell you not to make your dog vomit to remove the bones as this risks the bones getting stuck in the throat on the way up. Instead, you may be asked to feed your dog some bread, or pumpkin to ‘cushion’ the bones to minimize damage to the intestines until your dog passes the bones. 

Calling your vet will not cost you anything. Trusting your vet and acting on their advice is the best course of action that you can take. 

Do not self treat your dog

Many people panic when their dog gets into things that they should not eat. Some dog owners may try to treat their dogs on their own. This can be dangerous as advice from non qualified professionals, or even information from the internet can be inaccurate. 

For example, you may find instructions on how to make your dog vomit the bones out. While this may remove the bones if successful, the bones may get lodged somewhere coming back up. Other people might suggest medications for your dog, and this too, can be unsafe for your dog. 

Thus, while self treating your dog at home may save you some money, it is very dangerous. You may just end up paying more if your dog suffers additional issues due to the self administered treatments. 

Watch for signs 

If your dog is displaying any of the following signs after eating chicken bones, head to the vet immediately. 

  • Vomiting
  • Gagging / retching
  • Drooling
  • Coughing
  • Having trouble breathing

It is important to keep an eye on your dog for the next 48 hours. Abdominal pain, lethargy and black stools may not show immediately but are all signs that something might be wrong. Even if your dog seems completely normal, you should still monitor the situation for the next couple of days. 

Can chicken bones kill dogs? 

While it’s a rare occurrence, there have been cases where chicken bones are the cause of death in dogs. 

Bones can pierce the esophagus which runs from the mouth to the stomach. When the esophagus is perforated, bacteria that passes through the mouth can easily get into the dog’s chest cavity and cause infection and inflammation. This can cause serious illness and even death. 

How long does it take a dog to digest a bone?

The chicken bone will probably pass within 24 hours, but factors such as your dog’s size, breed, age and even diet will influence this. Some dogs may take over two days to pass the bones. 

If your dog seems perfectly normal after getting into chicken bones, then it is very likely that there will be no issues. Hopefully, the bone will be digested as it passes through the natural digestive route. 

For this reason, most vets will advise you to wait and see if there are no immediate signs that your dog is in distress.

What bones can dogs eat? 

After reading all this, you may be wondering what bones your dog can eat. Raw bones, which are much safer than cooked bones, are obviously the better option for your dog. There are two types of raw bones - recreational raw bones and nutritional dog bones. 

Recreational raw bones are meant for play. They are strong, hard to shatter and generally safe for your dog to chew on. However, it’s still a good idea to check it regularly to make sure that all parts are intact. 

Nutritional dog bones are high in calcium and phosphorus and can be part of your dog’s diet. In fact, some dog owners grind the bones with a meat grinder to ensure that they are safe for their dogs. 

Raw cow, lamb and beef bones are the best bones for your dog. They are generally the safer option although you should still keep and eye on your dog when they are chewing or eating them. While raw chicken, turkey and pork bones are a little safer than cooked ones, they can still splinter and cause damage that may require medical attention.  

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of whether chicken bones are good or bad for your dog. Many dog owners feed their dogs raw bones because they want to ensure that their dog gets all the nutrients that they need. To minimize the risk of chicken bones choking your dog or damaging your dog’s throat and GI tract, Petcube’s gently cooked range is formulated to provide your adult dog with all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Thus, you can rest well knowing that your dog’s diet is healthy and balanced.

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