Is Chicken Bone Safe for Dogs?

Dogs love chicken, fact. The juicy meat, the tasty skin and those crunchy bones. But, dogs can’t eat chicken bones, right? Most vets will advise against giving dogs chicken bones for safety, but there are ways you can feed your dog chicken bones as a healthy source of protein without the risk of injury or choking. Let’s find out what to do if your dog ate chicken bones.

Cooked Chicken Bones

The general rule has always been “never feed your dog chicken bones”, but why? This advice here is actually regarding cooked chicken bones.

When the bone is exposed to high temperatures, it dries out and will easily splinter. If your dog were to eat a cooked chicken bone, those tiny, sharp pieces of bone could cause serious internal injury or lodge in your dog’s throat.

This puts his entire digestive tract at risk of cuts and internal bleeding, from his throat right through to his bowels. Swallowing splintered chicken bone can be fatal for your dog if they do not receive medical treatment quickly.

The only option to fix internal bleeding is an invasive surgery, which no dog owner wants to put their dog through. So is there a way of feeding your dog chicken bones safely?

Raw Chicken Bones

Dogs are omnivores, which means they need both meat and vegetation to be healthy. Before dogs were domesticated, they would hunt prey animals, eating all parts including the bones and cartilage.

Raw chicken bones have a different texture and consistency to cooked bones. They are less likely to splinter into small pieces, however, they do still pose a choking hazard.

As a guide, you should not feed a dog a chicken bone that is just small enough to swallow. Larger bones must be crunched so they are far less likely to get stuck in the dog’s esophagus. Puppies are most at risk of obstructions or blocked airways due to their small size.

To be safe, you should always supervise your dog while they eat raw chicken bone so you can react quickly if there is a problem. Puppies can safely chew on large raw meaty bones as a treat or when they are teething, but again you should supervise them.

Raw chicken bones can carry bacteria such as salmonella, so it is important that you thoroughly wash all bones and only feed fresh chicken bones to your dog.

What to do if my dog ate chicken bones

Most of the time, dogs can eat chicken bones and be completely fine. The bone will be broken down by the digestive acids and passed via the bowels without causing any internal damage.

If your dog ate a chicken bone and it has lodged in the upper airway, this will obstruct your dog’s ability to breathe. This will show as the following symptoms:

  • Coughing or gagging
  • Jagged breaths
  • Drooling

Check inside your dog’s mouth to see how far down the throat it has gotten stuck. If you can see the bone and can get a grip on it without pushing it further down, you can attempt to pull the bone out. Take your dog to the vet immediately if you cannot see the bone or if it is too far down to get hold of.

The chicken bone may become lodged in the esophagus, in which case you will not be able to see it. You should look for:

  • Gagging or retching
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite

A blocked esophagus will be very uncomfortable and your dog will not be able to eat. They may appear lethargic or agitated. You should get your dog checked by a vet as soon as possible.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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