Can Chicken Bones Kill A Dog?

Last Updated on October 19, 2021 by Marco

We have all been there. You have just finished dinner, and you’re cleaning up the mess. Your dog looks at you longingly; they can smell the remains of your roast chicken dinner. 

Sometimes it is tempting to toss our dog a chicken bone or two after we have finished our meal. But is it ok? Hmmm, what to do.

In this article, we look at the question, can chicken bones kill a dog?

Sadly, yes they can – if they are cooked chicken bones. This is rare, but a cooked chicken bone can choke a dog, or pierce their esophagus.

Read on to find out why you should never give your dog cooked chicken bones, and find out if it is safe to give your dog uncooked chicken bones.

Can You Give Dogs Chicken Bones?

It is ok to give your dog raw chicken bones if it is part of a raw food diet. This diet is gaining popularity with dog owners.

Part of the raw food diet for dogs includes muscle meat, still attached to the bone, and the raw bones themselves, either whole or ground up.

The benefits of the raw food diet include cleaner teeth, a shiner coat, healthier skin, smaller stools, and increased energy.

The risks of this diet, which also includes organ meat, raw eggs, and certain fruits and vegetables, are threats from bacteria in raw meat, and the potential for whole bones to choke the dog, or puncture their internal digestive organs, or break their teeth.

Are Chicken Bones Good For Dogs?

Chicken meat is great for dogs because it is low in fat and packed with protein, which is an essential part of a dog’s diet. The amino acids in protein aids tissue repair and keeps their skin and coat healthy.

The marrow (the gelatinous tissue inside the bone) provides some excellent vitamins and minerals for your dog.

A book called “Give Your Dog A Bone”, by veterinarian Dr. Ian Billinghurst, is “The Practical Commonsense Way to Feed Dogs for a Long Healthy Life”, and a good starting point for anyone considering feeding their dog a raw food diet that includes bones.

The Different Types of Chicken Bone

When it comes to giving a dog a bone, generally, the larger the bone, the better. This is because larger bones are less likely to splinter into small fragments that can pierce your dog’s stomach, intestines, or bowels. Smaller chicken bones to be avoided are the rib bones, for example, and the wings.

Siberian husky holding bone

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The longest bone in a chicken is the thigh bone, and the largest is the sternum.

Many dog owners feed their dogs raw chicken necks semi-regularly, with no problems. Dogs love to crunch these up.

Why Can’t Dogs Eat Cooked Chicken Bones?

When a chicken bone is cooked, it becomes brittle, like glass. The dog can swallow a fragment of cooked bone that is sharp and pointy, which can cause a dog to choke.

Cooked chicken bones can pierce a dog’s esophagus (the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from your mouth to the stomach), which can result in death.

Similarly, too many bones in a dog’s diet can cause a bowel obstruction, where compacted pieces of bone cause a blockage. This can be life-threatening and may require surgery.

What If My Dog Accidentally Ate A Cooked Chicken Bone?

Do not panic, as your dog may be perfectly fine. If they are choking then this will be obvious right away. Read this article about First Aid for a choking dog.

Other signs to look out for that a cooked bone is making your dog unwell are:

  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Straining to make a bowel movement
  • Blood in their stools
  • Vomiting
  • A bloated abdomen
  • Lack of appetite
  • Appearing uncomfortable

You will need to monitor your dogs’ poop each day for the bone shards. If you do not see any bones pass after 72 hours, then take your dog to the vet to make sure the bones aren’t stuck somewhere in your dog’s digestive system.

How Many Bones Can My Dog Eat?

Vets recommend that dogs eat no more than two bones per week and that there are a few days in between bone meals so that the dog has time to digest them.

But Don’t Wolves Eat Bones In The Wild?

Yes, they do, but wolves are carnivores, which means they need to eat a diet that is made up exclusively of animal flesh and bone.

Dogs, on the other hand, have evolved significantly over millennia; today they are omnivores which means that they need a different diet to that of a wolf. Dogs need other foods, like vegetables and grains, for optimal health.

A dog can’t thrive on raw meat and bones alone.

What Are The Best Bones To Feed A Dog?

A huge marrowbone is a winner. These are the long leg bones from a cow. They have loads of cartilage in the knuckles for a dog to safely munch and crunch on, and they are so big and strong that your dog will take a long time to break the bone down into smaller pieces. Plus, as the name suggests, these big bones have loads of tasty marrow inside that not only is wonderful for your dog’s health, but it will keep them entertained for hours trying to lick it all out.

Dogs and Chicken-Bones: The Takeaway:

  • Dogs can eat a raw food diet that includes bones, such as chicken bones;
  • The benefits of the raw food diet includes cleaner teeth, smaller stools, more energy, and healthier skin;
  • Avoid giving your dog the smaller bones of the chicken such as the rib or wing bones;
  • Never give your dog cooked bones because they are brittle, and can cause choking, tears in the digestive tract, or bowel obstruction;
  • Take your dog to the vet if they have accidentally eaten a cooked chicken bone and do not pass it after 72 hours, or appear unwell;
  • Dogs are not carnivores; they need grain and vegetables to thrive;
  • Only feed your dog raw bones twice a week, with a day off in between;
  • Give your dog a big juicy marrow bone to eat – they will love you for it!

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