Picture this – you’re out with your dog when suddenly, they catch a scent, snag something off the ground, and swallow down their contraband before you know what happened. You catch a glimpse as it’s going down, and much to your horror – it’s a chicken bone.
Don’t panic. While chicken bones can be dangerous, you want to stay calm and call your vet. If your dog is having difficulty breathing, gagging, vomiting, and any other serious symptoms, you’ll want to bring them in immediately. Do not try to induce vomiting. The bone could get stuck in their throat, or the fragments can cause serious damage as they come up.
If your dog is not experiencing symptoms, you may be able to wait it out to see if the bone passes naturally. Here’s what to look for it your dog ate a bone on a walk.
First, you want to make sure that your dog swallowed the bone completely and that it’s not stuck in their airway. Open their mouth and use your finger to check if something is blocking their airway. If the airway is clean, they swallowed it completely. Now you just have to worry about them passing it within 72 hours.
If there is something stuck in your dog’s throat, you may need to do the Heimlich maneuver on your dog. This is very similar to doing it on a human. You want to apply quick, sharp pressure to their chest to help dislodge anything that may be stuck. It’s easiest to go behind your dog and bear hug them, applying pressure just below the sternum. Make sure to remove anything that comes up and check that nothing else is stuck.
Monitor your dog’s behaviour. If they start to act lethargic, wheeze, or bloat, you may want to consult with your vet to ensure they did not injure themselves while swallowing the bone.
Now that the bone is in your dog’s stomach, you want to do some damage control. Chicken bones can have sharp edges, so it’s important to try to cover them, so they don’t harm your dog on the way out.
Monitor any changes in appetite and try feeding your dog bulky food like white bread. This can help do the job, complementing your dog’s natural digestive system. The juices in their digestive tract will help to break down the bone, softening the edges even more to help it safely pass.
Your dog should pass the bone within 72 hours, and you should see bone fragments in the stool. Keep an eye out for any blood in their stool, as this could be indicative of internal bleeding.
If your dog becomes bloated, constipated, or strains to poop after eating the bone, they may have an internal blockage. You’ll want to check with your vet if you notice any of these behaviors or your dog has not passed the bone naturally.
After your dog is feeling better and has passed the bone, it’s important to reinforce their training. Simple commands like leave it or drop it can prevent them from eating bones on walks in the future.