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Dr Scott Nimmo
Dr Scott Nimmo, Small Animal Veterinarian.
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18796
Experience:  BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }
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My dog ate a 2.5 pound chicken, bones and all about 24 hours

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My dog ate a 2.5 pound chicken, bones and all about 24 hours ago. She has been to the vet and put on medication. We were told to just wait and see what happens. Our dog has not been vomiting, but has also not passed much gas nor had a decent bowel movement. She has a diarrhea coming out in small amounts. Since the chicken she has eaten two normal meals and her belly feels quite distended. What should we do in this situation? We're very worried.
Thanks for the question.

While I cannot diagnose this via the internet I can tell you the following :

In direct answer to your question : The best thing to do here is to just sit it out, monitor your Lab and see what happens. There is really not many other options as it would be contraindicated to induce vomiting to make her sick to recover the chicken carcase because of sharp objects like chicken bones. In my experience most dogs will get way with this, it is a common occurrence which vets advise on frequently.

When you think about it wild dogs and feral dogs will be doing this on a daily basis and this is the way they are adapted to feed as opportunistic feeders and scavengers. For your dogs to swallow this chicken carcase she would have to crunch it into smaller pieces and they may pass OK. Also some digestion and softening of the bones is possible by the stomach acids which will help them eventually pass but she may have indigestion for a day or so..

However there are no guarantees and occasionally in the past at my clinic I have seen problems. You would be therefor wise to monitor your dog for such signs as vomiting, lethargy, not eating, straining or abdominal pain and of course consult your vet again without delay if you do see such symptoms. This would be generally unlikely though.

If I have not covered your question fully enough or you would like to ask more I will be online for the next hour or so and I will be at your disposal.

Scott Nimmo BVMS MRCVS
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
We had an x-ray done while at the vet and our dog really didn't crunch the bones up very well... they are quite big pieces and very noticeable. She is a very quick eater and does not chew her food well.
Hello again,

While there are no guarantees dogs being dogs I have seen this situation a great many times over the years and surprisingly most dogs did get away with it even with larger bone fragments.

Chicken bones are quite soft when compared to say bones from a T-bone steak and they can partially digest and soften in the stomach acids and then this helps them pass.

The only alternative to sitting things out would be surgery to remove the bones from the stomach and alimentary tract but this is big major surgery and it would be best only carried out if there was no other alternative. So really just carefully monitoring your dog and giving things a chance to resolve naturally would be the way to go, but contact your vet again without delay id any adverse symptoms start to occur.

Good luck,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I took her to an vet ER just after it happened and they x-rayed her, prescribed something to coat her stomach. Sucralfate 1 gram BID
She started to have watery diarrhoea several hours later, she is going often but not large amounts. She seems to be having difficulty, staying in a squat for several minutes each time. She was having very "foul" gas last night, but has not had any for most of today.

Her abdomen seems to be a bit distended and hard. She is not showing any obvious signs of pain. She is eating and drinking. She does seem to be more lethargic than usual.

A referral was made to my regular vet. I was called by a tech at my regular vet's office this am as a follow up. She instructed me to feed my dog a large meal as it would help push the chicken out- I did so.

We went to my regular vet today and he suggested that we wait and to bring her back to the er clinic if she starts vomiting- he said if she needs surgery that's the place to go... While there she layed down and stretched her body out - she is usually more active while at that office.

My vet scheduled no follow up, also saying to wait and see and gave no instructions as to how long to let symptoms go on before doing anything more. He said no x-rays were needed as it would not change the way he would treat her.

He prescribed a strong antibiotic. Metronidazole 750mg BID- He also told me to feed her lightly and offered a special dog food for digestive problems. After some thought - it seems he may not want to be further involved... I also have received conflicting instructions regarding feeding her. Also, this is a practice that schedules follow-up on nearly everything...

She is typically regular with her bowels having a proper movement 1 or 2 times every day.

How long should I wait while she is has this distention and diarea?
Hello again,

1. On the plus side it is very encouraging that she is eating and drinking normally and is not showing pain or lethargy. If something serious had already happened such as damage to her intestinal tract then you would normally not be seeing her as bright as she is.

2. Us vets do see this type of thing all the time and in most cases it will resolve but may take four or five days, sometimes though this knowledge does makes even the best of us a bit inattentive and not sensitive towards the concerns and fears of the client ...

There would be so hard and fast rule as to follow up because this would vary with individual cases but if your dog is still showing diarrhoea and distention tomorrow it would be best to have her checked again just to be on the safe side, this can do no harm. If your dog is going to be one of the few unlucky ones which is going to need surgery then the sooner any problem is picked up the better. In the meantime if she deteriorates in any way you should see an ER vet without delay.

3. I am a kind of common sense vet and have seen this often and like your regular vet I probably would not have run an X-ray if the dog seemed bright but I would have provided means where the client could contact me at once if there was a problem or if things deteriorated just to cover my back.


Dr Scott Nimmo, Small Animal Veterinarian.
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18796
Experience: BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }
Dr Scott Nimmo and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Sorry I realise I did not cover your question on feeding : I would usually suggest just feeding these dogs as normal but the special diet is a good idea as well. Some owners feed their dogs mashed potato or slices of bread in the hope that it will serve to cushion any sharp bone fragments as they pass along the intestinal tract, there may be something in this and it can do no harm.

Good luck,


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