What Do I Do If My Dog Ate Chicken Bones?

Four minutes
Apr 28, 2023

There’s nothing like the smell and taste of freshly cooked chicken or turkey. Unfortunately, your dog may also be tempted! While there’s nothing wrong with your dog eating unseasoned chicken or turkey, there is a potential risk for your dog if they eat their bones.

Learning about these risks and what to do if your dog does eat a chicken bone may help keep them healthy, maybe even save their life.

Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?

Dogs should not eat chicken bones, especially when they’re cooked. Chicken bones themselves aren’t toxic for your dog, and nothing in the bones themselves will make them sick. So what’s the problem? According to experts, cooked chicken bones are softer than raw or dried bones, making them easier to splinter into small, sharp pieces.1

If your dog is unable to swallow the bones, they can damage your dog’s mouth and airway, possibly becoming a choking risk. Even if your dog does swallow the bone splinters, they might not fully dissolve in the stomach. These partially digested bone splinters could potentially damage your dog’s intestinal tract.1

Also, if your dog eats raw chicken bones, they may be at increased risk of salmonella poisoning.1

How Do I Know if My Dog Ate a Chicken Bone?

If you know or suspect that your dog ate a chicken bone, and assuming that your dog isn’t clearly choking, veterinarians recommend that you be on the lookout for these signs.2

  • Gagging/retching
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite or refusal to drink
  • Constipation
  • Bloody stool
  • Bloating or abdominal pain
  • Whining
  • Lethargy

If you see these signs, it’s best to call your veterinarian immediately. They can advise you on the best course of action to take based on your dog’s situation.

What To Do if Your Dog Eats Chicken Bones

While it’s advised to consult your vet if your dog swallows a chicken bone, there are a few key actions that may help.

Remain calm

Dogs can sense when we’re upset or scared, which in turn could make them upset and scared, too. Do your best not to panic. Try to speak to your dog in a calm, steady voice. This can also help you to better manage the situation overall.1

Clear their airway to prevent choking

If there are bone pieces stuck in your dog's teeth, gums, or mouth, try to gently remove any bone pieces before they swallow them. If bone pieces are stuck in the back of their throat, you may want to try pressing in the bottom of their jaw. It’s also helpful to learn in advance what to do if your dog is choking; that way you can take action immediately.

Give them bread and water

If your dog isn’t choking and has already swallowed the bone, emergency care vets typically recommend that you offer them a piece of plain white bread or another soft food and encourage them to drink water.3

The bread may help to cushion the lining of the esophagus and digestive tract. It may also help increase the production of gastric juices in the stomach, which can help dissolve the bone splinters.3

Keeping them hydrated with water or bone broth will also aid digestion and help them pass any bone splinters.3

What You Should Not Do If Your Dog Eats Chicken Bones

There are also some things to avoid doing if your dog eats a chicken bone.

Don’t pull the bones away

If there are bones still in your dog’s mouth, try to get them to give them up, but don’t yank or take them away by force. This will only make your dog want to bite down on them with more force which can cause more splintering. Instead, offer your dog a special treat or a valued toy in exchange for the bone.

Don’t induce vomiting

Encouraging your dog to vomit or inducing vomiting may make sense if they’ve eaten something toxic like chocolate. But if they vomit up a sharp object like a bone splinter, they may be at greater risk of it getting stuck in their airway on the way back up. Instead, it’s better to let your dog’s digestive system do its job with intervention from your vet.4

How To Keep Your Dog From Eating Chicken Bones

The best way to prevent your dog from eating chicken bones is to remove any temptation. Keeping food out of reach and making sure your trash can is securely closed is a good start. It’s also smart to train your dog to not steal food. It’s helpful to educate your family and guests so that they know the risks, and ask them to not feed your dogs from the table.1

Consider Investing in Pet Insurance for Accidents

If your dog eats chicken bones, it can quickly turn a festive meal into an expensive trip to the vet, maybe requiring an X-ray and possibly surgery to remove pieces of undigested bone from your dog. These procedures can easily add up to thousands of dollars in vet bills.

That’s where a dog insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance could help. Our pet insurance policies can help you provide the coverage and care your furry family members deserve, even when they eat something they shouldn’t.5 Get your free quote today.

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 Dr. Hunter Finn

Dr. Hunter Finn has been paid by MetLife to discuss the importance of choosing pet insurance. He is an integrative veterinary expert first, and social media star second. He  owns Pet Method in McKinney, Texas, where he cares for pets while prioritizing their emotional well-being. When he’s not at his clinic, he’s starring in viral videos on TikTok (2 million followers) and Instagram (500K followers) — where he’s been known to snuggle puppies and conquer the latest dance trends. 

1 “What to Do if Your Dog Eats a Chicken Bone,” American Kennel Club

2 “What Do I Do If My Dog Ate a Chicken Bone?” PetMD

3 “Canine Emergency Situations: Can A Chicken Bone Hurt My Dog?” Urgent Pet Care - Omaha

4 “How and When to Induce Vomiting in a Puppy,” The SprucePets

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