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How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Pass A Bone?

Every story ever told links dogs and bones together, so it’s normal to consider giving your dog one as a treat.

Chewing on raw bones is somewhat safe, but if swallowed, it can quickly become a problem, causing intestinal blockages.

The risk is even higher when the bones are cooked.

Cooked bones are brittle and sharp, making them hard to digest and dangerous for your dog when they pass through their digestive system.

In addition to discussing how long it takes for your dog to pass a bone and if they can digest bones, we offer some tips on what to do if your dog swallows a bone.

How Long Will it Take For My Dog to Pass a Swallowed Bone?

There’s always a chance that your dog will pass the bone without any issues.

But how long does it take for a dog to pass a bone?

It depends on many factors, including the type and size of bone, size of the dog, whether it is raw or cooked, and even the health of your dog.

It takes as much as 8-12 hours for a dog to pass a bone.

Can Dogs Digest Bones?

For the most part, a dog’s stomach acid can dissolve and digest some bones.

Osteophagia is a common feat within the animal kingdom, so it’s not all that surprising to expect your dog to be able to keep their bones down.

With dogs, digesting bones isn’t always an issue.

Small bones are usually dissolved easily to pass out without any problems.

The risk lies in splintering, where a cooked piece of bone breaks off when the dog is chewing and ends up causing perforations in the small intestine.

This is particularly true of cooked chicken bone.

It’s relatively uncommon for a dog to have serious issues with bones, so much so that they need to go to a vet.

At least, it’s uncommon enough that thousands of dog owners willingly give their pups bones to chew regularly.

Still, it is a real possibility.

Let’s examine the factors that might influence your dog digesting a bone.

Type of Bone

Generally, different bones have different compositions.

When chewed, some bones crumble, some splinter, and some fracture.

Those that fracture end up with razor-sharp edges that are dangerous for your dog.

The bones in birds are easy to break because they are thin and full of air sacs.

A dog will find it easy to chew and digest some of these.

On the other hand, bones from cows or pigs are more massive, built to support the bulk of the larger animals.

Feeding your dog dense bones isn’t the best choice, and it will make it much harder for it to pass through their system.

Size of Bone

Even within the bird species, different animals have different bone structures that determine their bones’ size and weight.

Some are quite dense while others are hollow and barely weigh anything.

The size and weight of a bone also affect digestion.

Size and Health of Your Dog

Your dog’s size and health are also essential factors that affect how well your dog can process and digest any bones they consume.

A big healthy dog has a better chance of digesting a bone than a frail unhealthy one.

Considering the endless differences that can exist among dogs, it’s easy to see that there isn’t a science to predicting what dogs can digest which bones.

It all varies based on a lot of factors.

Your Doggo’s Teeth

The condition of your dog’s teeth is an extension of your dog’s overall health.

If your dog has healthy strong teeth, crushing the bones adequately before swallowing won’t be much of a struggle.

If you have a dog with unhealthy teeth or one that doesn’t chew their food much, it can pose a problem.

What Problems Can Bones Cause Your Dog?

Your dog can experience several issues when they eat and swallow bones.

The thing with bones is that they don’t even need to get into the stomach before they start causing issues.

Here are some problems your pup might experience as a result of cracking bones.

Bones can:

  • chip your dog’s teeth
  • get stuck in the roof of their mouth
  • get stuck in the throat or wound the oesophagus
  • cause injury to the intestines
  • cause laceration to your dog’s anus.

What Do You Do When Your Dog Swallows A Bone?

You now know not to feed your dog bones because they are high-risk treats.

Unfortunately, even if you stick to this, your dog can still go and find a piece of bone all by themselves to gulp down.

Uh oh.

Now, all your preventative measures didn’t work and your dog has swallowed a bone.

What do you do to ensure the bone has passed safely or how do you help if it doesn’t?

Make Sure Your Dog Isn’t Choking

The first thing is to ensure that your dog isn’t choking.

If your dog is struggling to breathe, then you might need to perform a quick procedure where you safely remove the bone with your hands so as to clear their airway.

However, you can only do this if you can see the bone.

If you can’t see it, don’t waste time trying to find it, head straight to the emergency room.

You should call ahead so that a vet can be waiting for you once you get there.

Here’s how to tell if your dog is choking:

  • Extreme panic or stressful movements
  • Pain and yelping
  • Rubbing their neck or face on objects or the floor
  • Being overly restless
  • Repeated attempts to vomit
  • Increased salivation
  • Gagging.

The above outcome is possible, but it is even more likely that your dog is sitting or running along and looking very pleased with themselves.

If this is the case, move on to step two.

Calmly Watch Out for the Signs They Exhibit

If your dog isn’t frantically trying to catch their next breath, then the bone is trying to make its way down to the stomach for digestion. This means that they can either safely accomplish this or might experience some discomfort and complications while trying to do this. Pay attention to the signs they exhibit so you can know how to best help them.

Watch to See if They Start or Try to Start Puking

Your dog can vomit up the bone sometime after consumption.

This might seem like an easy solution, but that’s not always the case.

It’s important to not incite a dog to throw up after swallowing bones.

The bones can do even more damage on their way back up.

If they do puke, pay close attention to how they act afterward.

If your dog exhibits any signs of pain, you might need to go in to see the vet.

Watch For More Symptoms Further Down the Line

If they don’t get sick, pay attention to their behavior for further abnormal conduct as time passes.

The following symptoms when they follow bone consumption can indicate that there must be some sort of blockage.

Intestinal blockages are potentially life-threatening and can cause intestinal tissue to become necrotic, so you would want to take any of these symptoms seriously.

  • Excessive drooling or panting
  • Depression
  • Extreme tiredness and lethargy
  • Refusal of foods or treats
  • Stretching or moving differently as if to be rid of discomfort
  • Lack of stool production
  • Repeated retching or vomiting
  • Bloody poop or diarrhea
  • Abnormal behavior, growling, or not wanting their stomach to be touched.

Will Your Dog Need Surgery?

A vet first attempts to get to the bone through the mouth.

When they can’t spot it, they take an X-ray to try to locate it.

Where they find it will determine whether or not they need to operate on your dog.

If the bone is in the large intestine, it is safe enough and should come out in your dog’s poop.

Another option before surgery is endoscopy, where a flexible tube with a camera is inserted via your dog’s mouth to help the bone out.

Surgery is usually the last option.

The doctor only resorts to surgery if they believe that an endoscopy will be dangerous for your dog or that the bone has caused a perforation.

Final Thoughts

There’s no rulebook that says giving your dog bones as treats is bad.

However, there’s enough evidence to support the notion that it is as unhealthy as it gets.

With some veterinarians claiming that bones are some of the most common foreign bodies found in dogs’ oesophagus, it seems prudent to avoid bones as a treat all together.

To avoid worrying about how long it takes for a dog to pass a bone, offer your dog safe alternatives instead like indestructible toys, treat-dispensing toys or bully treats.

If your dog swallows a bone by themselves or you forget to err on the side of caution, call your vet immediately for their professional advice.

You might just be saving your pup’s life.

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National Canine Research Association of America