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Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones? Vet Reviewed Pros & Cons

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A balanced and nutritious diet is imperative to a thriving canine companion. Can bones be part of a healthy diet for your dog? Many of us associate dogs so strongly with bones that we may not even think twice.

Chicken bones do have health benefits, but are they safe to eat? The answer to this question is: It depends on the bone and on your dog’s behavior. Chicken bones can be dangerous for some dogs but healthy for others. Keep reading to learn more about chicken bones and dog health.

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Why Can Chicken Bones Be Bad for Dogs?

Something very important to consider is that cooked chicken bones should never be fed to a dog. Cooked chicken bones become brittle, and when dogs crush these bones with their teeth, they break into splinters. These splinters are sharp and can injure the dog’s throat or puncture the lining of its gastrointestinal tract. 

Additionally, while raw chicken bones are flexible and not brittle, there is always a risk of bacterial contamination. Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, and Enterobacteria could be present in raw chicken bones. The best way to prevent contamination issues is to buy organic chicken from a source that ensures the highest possible animal health and welfare status and has high hygiene standards during the processing to minimize food-borne risks. 

Some dogs are chompers or scarfers, and giving them a chicken bone could be dangerous as they will eat the entire bone, potentially causing an intestinal obstruction. Smaller dogs and puppies can also choke on chicken bones. Every time you offer a dog a bone, you must consider the size of your dog’s mouth and head, the size and density of the bone, and your dog’s behavior. Dogs with a history of ingesting foreign objects should never be offered a bone as the chances of them swallowing the bone are very high. When offering your dog a bone, it is always advisable to monitor your dog’s behavior. Remove the bone if it has been worn or broken down into any pieces small enough to become a choking hazard. 

Chicken Bones
Photo Credit: Achirathep, Pixabay

How Can I Safely Feed My Dog Chicken Bones?

If you are weighing the pros and cons of feeding chicken bones to your dog, there are a few pointers to consider. Make sure the bones are raw and that they come from a reliable source. Rinse the chicken bones with drinking water and freeze them for at least two weeks before offering them to your dog. Then feed them right out of the freezer without thawing them. Freezing the chicken kills over 90% of any contaminant bacteria on chicken meat, including Campylobacter.

Feeding chicken bones can improve your dog’s dental health since gnawing on the bones helps them to remove plaque and tartar. 

raw chicken neck in white back ground
Photo Credit: Sergiy Kuzmin, Shutterstock

Divider 8What Should I Do If My Dog Eats a Cooked Chicken Bone?

Dogs will eat a chicken bone without question if they stumble upon it. What should you do if your dog accidentally eats a cooked chicken bone?

Keep a Cool Head

The last thing you want to do if your dog finds and eats a chicken bone is panic. While dangerous, there’s no guarantee that the chicken bone will harm your dog. Keep calm so you can determine the best course of action. 

Dogs love their food, and rushing to stop them from feeding on the chicken bone will only make them eat it faster. This rush increases the likelihood of your dog choking on the bone. Instead, stay calm and let the dog finish chewing on the bone or gently remove it from the dog’s mouth.

Observe Your Dog Closely

Check if the bone is splintered and if it is, offer your dog some white bread. Yes, you read that right! Offer your dog bread to help bulk up the bone and reduce the risk of perforations. Add plain organic pumpkin puree to your dog’s meals, and for twelve hours, keep a close eye on your dog for signs of internal bleeding or blockages. Observe the dog for a couple of days and check for any blood in the stool, lethargy, or constipation. These signs indicate that the chicken bones might have interfered with your dog’s digestive system. If you notice any of these signs, contact a licensed vet for medical assistance.

cocker spaniel dog eating
Photo Credit: O_Lypa, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Dogs love chicken and will gladly chew on chicken bones. However, chicken bones, especially cooked, aren’t safe for canines despite their nutritional value. Cases of choking or intestinal injuries have been reported and often result in fatalities. Raw chicken bones can be fed to certain dogs, but their size, behavior, and hygiene should always be considered first. 

Featured Image Credit: David Tadevosian, Shutterstock

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