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My Dog Ate Chicken Bones, What Should I Do?

Picture of a boston terrier

Every pet parent knows that accidents are bound to happen, no matter how much you try to prevent them. Dogs can be extremely curious when it comes to human food, and feeding your canine friend leftovers can make him even more interested in what’s on the table.

But if your dog eats chicken or turkey bones, he can get in serious trouble. Heaps of people foods are dangerous for dogs, but chicken bones are at the top of the list. That’s why it’s important for you to know what you should do in case your Fido gets to nibble on some chicken or turkey bones, whether cooked or uncooked. 

In this post, we’ll look at what makes chicken bones dangerous, what you can do if your dog eats or chokes on a chicken or turkey bone, and several other tips. 

What to do if your dog eats a chicken bone

The best way of going about things, in this case, is to remain as calm as possible. If you start panicking, you’ll automatically send the wrong signals to your dog — and it’s quite likely that your canine friend can feel when you’re getting anxious, nervous, or scared, and he’ll feel the same things. 

If your dog hasn’t eaten all of the bones, try to distract him so that you or a member of your family can remove the remaining chicken bones. Dogs can be quite possessive when it comes to their food, so even if they might not become aggressive, they will try to eat as much as they can before you get a chance to ‘steal’ it from them. 

If you have pet insurance and you can take your dog to the vet, that’s what you should do. A vet can offer you a simple solution such as feeding your dog several pieces of white bread to help cushion the chicken bone fragments so that they’re passed easily. But every situation is different. 

Since chicken bones can break and splinter, they can puncture the gastrointestinal tract. You really can’t know the size of the bone pieces inside your dog’s digestive system, so there’s always the risk of your dog experiencing a severe lesion. He can also choke on a piece of bone. 

Remain vigilant

If your dog has eaten chicken bones and hasn’t experienced any digestive discomfort, pain, or anxiety, it’s quite likely that he is going to be fine. Remaining vigilant can be essential, however, especially when it comes to the first two to three days following the chicken bone ingestion. 

Make sure that your dog is having normal stools. Needless to say, during this time, don’t allow your dog to have access to people’s food. Feed him only dog food and the white bread that we have mentioned earlier on. 

During the first twelve to seventy-two hours following the incident, the dog might experience difficulty defecating, vomiting, bloody stools, stomach swelling, or just nervousness or anxiety. 

Keep an eye on your Fido for any type of abdominal discomfort, and if you notice any, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Seeking out medical attention during the first 72 hours can be critical, so if you have a veterinary clinic nearby that you can go to, definitely do it. 

Whatever happens, do not try to induce vomiting with your hand, fingers, or an object. You could risk getting bitten, or you could just make the matter worse.

How to help a choking dog

Check the airway by opening the mouth, and using your index finger to go to the back of the dog’s throat and see whether there’s something lodged into it. If you can’t find anything or if you can’t remove the splinter, you might have to perform the Heimlich maneuver. 

Wrap your arms around your canine friend’s chest, almost like giving him a bear hug from behind. Bring your hands together below the end of the dog’s sternum and then pull toward you. 

Performing the Heimlich maneuver on a dog is very similar to doing the same on a human, but make sure that you constantly check the dog’s mouth, too, to remove anything that might be coming up. It goes without saying that you should perform the maneuver only on a dog that has a hard time breathing or is actually choking — not on a dog that has already swallowed the bones. 

Why are chicken bones so dangerous?

You might argue that dogs have been eating bones for thousands and thousands of years, so then why should you be concerned now? Well, while it might be true that most chicken bones actually dissolve inside a dog’s stomach (thanks to the stomach acid), some might not. They can cause real problems.

The first health complication that your dog could experience if he’s eaten chicken bones is an obstruction. A chicken bone fragment can get stuck in the esophagus, and that’s actually the positive scenario. If it gets stuck in the dog’s pharynx, your dog can actually choke. In this situation, your canine companion is going to show signs of distress, such as difficulty breathing or heavy coughing. 

If the chicken bone goes through the pharynx and esophagus and even passes through the stomach, it might cause problems in the intestines. Chicken bones can splinter very easily, and they can cause perforation of the intestinal tract, in which case the dog can experience internal bleeding.

If you let your dog eat uncooked chicken meat or bones, he might be exposed to a Salmonella infection. 

Prevention 

They say that prevention is worth a pound of cure, and nothing could be truer. But as responsible of a pet guardian as you might be, all people make mistakes at one point or the other.

If you were unlucky enough to have to go through this, try to find out how your dog got access to the bones and eliminate any possibility that this might happen again. For example, if your dog removed the chicken bones from the trash can, get one that can’t be opened by pets. 

If possible, avoid feeding your dog table scraps. This type of behavior can inadvertently tell him that it’s perfectly fine to have human food, no matter if he steals it or someone is offering it to him. 

Even though chicken bones might not be as dangerous to dogs as other types of foods, such as chocolate, for instance, they’re still not the best food to ingest. Why risk causing your pooch a health problem if you can prevent it? 

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