What Should Someone Do for a Dog That Swallows a Bone?

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If a pet dog swallows a bone, the first course of action will depend on the condition of the dog after ingesting the bone. Should the dog appear to be in some form of distress, such as pacing anxiously, drinking continuously, having difficulty sitting, licking excessively, gagging, retching or vomiting, the bone may be lodged in the dog’s esophagus and requires immediate medical attention.

If the dog is not displaying any signs of discomfort after swallowing a bone, it will likely be fine. However, it is best to observe the dog during the next few days to make sure that it passes the bone without issue. Look for signs like constipation, which will likely be caused by bone fragments, or bleeding from the rectum.

Although it does not occur often, the bone or bones ingested by the dog may become stuck in the GI tract, which will likely require surgery. Smaller, tough bones like chicken or turkey bones may splinter and poke holes in the dog’s intestines, causing a condition called peritonitis.

Some pet owners feed their dogs bones on a regular basis, perhaps reasoning out that that dogs have been chewing and snacking on bones for thousands of years. While true, it is still a risky activity for the pet. It will be best to keep the dog safe by disposing bones and other food scraps properly, and by giving it chew toys to satisfy its natural chewing instincts.