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You were watching the big game on TV when you got distracted long enough for your dog, Buddy, to steal the bones of every yummy chicken wing sitting on your table. After a family fried chicken dinner, the kids scraped their plates into the trash can, but someone didn’t replace the lid tightly and Buddy couldn’t resist. Or, perhaps someone had a picnic earlier and left behind a chicken bone that Buddy sniffed out and scarfed down during your evening walk.
Yes, we’ve all been there. Aren’t dogs inherently built to eat and digest steak, chicken, ham or rib bones? Well, not exactly. But, before you rush Buddy off to the clinic, here are a few things to consider. Although dogs and bones have always gone together, it’s cooked bones – not raw – that can be dangerous.
Raw bones – yes, even raw chicken bones – are actually quite beneficial for dogs. In addition to providing calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals and nutrients, they stimulate the production of saliva enzymes that keep teeth and gums clean and healthy, and are an excellent way to provide both mental and physical stimulation, preventing boredom or bad behavior. Remember to always supervise your dog while he’s chewing.
Cooked bones, on the other hand, unless they have been labeled as safe for dogs, should be avoided. Yes, even that rib bone your dog’s been salivating over while you ate dinner should go safely into the trash or compost pile and not into your dog’s bowl. Cooked bones become dry and brittle. When chewed by your dog, cooked bones can crack and splinter leading to painful cuts to the mouth and gums, or, worse, can lead to choking, internal injuries, punctured organs, and death.
Still, despite your best efforts, your dog eats a cooked bone. What should you do?
1.When Buddy gets hold of the cooked bones. Because cooked bones can splinter in a dog’s mouth, throat, and digestive linings; thus, causing serious injury and even death, it is very important that you first make sure that right after your pooch has gotten hold of the bones, he is not choking on them. You will know that the bones have been lodged in your dog’s throat if he starts to gag, wretch, vomit, drink excessively, lick his lips, suddenly shows an anxious pacing, or has difficulty sitting down comfortably.
2. When Buddy has already ingested the bones. If your dog has already eaten the forbidden food and does not appear to be choking or experiencing any kind of distress, it is likely that he will be fine. Nevertheless, it is essential that you remain vigilant about his condition over the next few days. Ensure that he is able to pass the bones through his stool. You can try giving your pooch something soft such as white bread to serve as a cushion in his stomach. This way, delicate digestive lining can be protected from being scratched by the bones’ jagged edges.
Because perforation of organs is a real threat whenever sharp objects are ingested by your pet, it is imperative that you pay attention to possible internal bleeding. For the next 12 to 72 hours, be alert for signs of bloody stool, difficulty defecating, stomach swelling, vomiting, nervous or anxious behavior, or any other form of abdominal discomfort. If you see your dog exhibiting any one of these symptoms, immediately seek out medical attention. If after 72 hours you still haven’t found any bone fragments in his stool, have your dog examined by a vet.
3. Learn from the experience. Prevention is always better than a cure. The best thing you can do after this frightening incident is to learn from it and ensure that it does not ever happen again. Take precautionary measures by keeping a better eye on Buddy, purchasing a more dog-safe trash can, and ensuring that table scraps are not in any accessible place to your pooch.