Man’s best friend: This is the term often used to describe the relationship that we have with our furry four-legged friends. We hug on them, cuddle with them, and consider them to be members of our families.
We do everything in our power to make sure they live active, happy and healthy lives for as long as possible. Just like humans, dogs need food and water in order to survive and thrive. Unfortunately for dogs, however, their menu options are limited.
And let’s be honest, wouldn’t you get tired of eating the same food three to four times a day? I know I would. So, it is understandable that our dogs would be tempted by any food that we humans leave within their reach.
In the paragraphs that follow, I will reflect on an incident when my dog devoured a plate of chicken bones and lived through the experience, as well as relate the steps to take if this were to happen to your pet.
Let’s hit the rewind button to about nine months ago. My family had just experienced the loss of my grandfather. On this night, we arrived home rather late from the visitation service for my grandfather at the funeral home. The funeral was the next morning.
As we entered the house, our 15-year-old toy poodle barked with excitement when she saw us. I hadn’t eaten in several hours and was hungry. Rummaging through the refrigerator, I found some leftover chicken legs. Our dog is a huge fan of chicken. She prances around on her hind legs every time she smells chicken, hoping to get some.
And yes, sometimes we give into her pleading barks and treat her to a small bite of chicken. However, we make sure it is off the bone. On this particular night, I decided to relax and eat my chicken leg snack in the den in front of the television. I left my plate of chicken legs on the coffee table and returned to the kitchen to get my drink and then…it happened!
I heard a shriek from my mom and I immediately knew: our dog had gotten into the chicken legs! As I ran back into the den my dog was looking up at me, wide eyed and innocent with a very small piece of chicken bone hanging out of her mouth and very little of the chicken was left on the plate. She had been caught, but I could tell that she had really enjoyed her quick little snack. My mom was frantic, and I honestly thought we were going to have two funerals in our family the next day, one of them being mine!
My mom and I knew that we needed to get our beloved pet to The Animal Hospital as quickly as possible.
Once there, the short wait to be seen by a doctor seemed like an eternity. We sat in silence, thinking to ourselves, “How did we let this happen…AGAIN?” O yeah, I forgot to mention, this was the SECOND time this had happened within a two-year period.
So, we weren’t sure, because of our dog’s age, if her body could handle the surgical procedure a second time. X-rays were taken and evaluated. Our options were to let our dog attempt to pass the fragments of bone on her own or to have them surgically removed for the price of $2,500. YES!
You heard me correctly…$2,500!
We were told by the veterinarian that some larger dogs can pass the bones with no problems. Due to our dog’s small size and the fact that cooked chicken bones, when eaten, become as sharp as razor blades sliding through the intestines, we opted for the surgery.
The surgery was successful, and the recovery time went as expected. She spent a day and a half in the hospital after the procedure and had to wear a halo around her neck to prevent her from licking and biting at the stitches in her stomach. She was sent home with pain medication and antibiotics. She wasn’t completely her normal self for about two months, but this was mostly due to her advanced age.
Hopefully, after reading about my family’s experience, you’re thinking, “I really don’t want this to happen to my dog. How can I learn from their mistakes, and avoid this unnecessary trauma?” Here are some things that we have learned from our “Chicken Bone Adventure”, as well as some extra precautions that we now take to ensure that this does not happen to us again. Because in this situation, the third time would not be a charm.
- Feed your dog a healthy diet – Your veterinarian is your best source for what to feed your dog. Many of the foods that humans eat can be dangerous and life-threatening to our pets. According to WebMD, some foods can cause serious digestive issues. Xylitol (an artificial sweetener), avocado, alcohol, onions and garlic, grapes and raisins, dairy products, macadamia nuts, chocolate, persimmons, peaches, and plums, raw eggs, raw meat and fish, salt, sugary foods and drinks, yeast dough AND the dreaded chicken bones can all have adverse effects on your dog’s health.
- An occasional “people food” snack is acceptable, but it should only be a small treat. Again, ask your veterinarian for suggestions for snacks for your dog. Chicken bones are NEVER an acceptable food for your dog to ingest. Cooked chicken bones can break and splinter, which could get caught in your dog’s throat and cause him to choke. The bones could also puncture your dog’s gastrointestinal tract which could lead to death.
- Store and dispose of food properly – Keep foods out of reach from your dog in containers or pantries. Make sure that the containers are “pet proof” so that they can’t be opened by your furry little friend. We place chicken bones in a separate Ziploc baggie, sometimes double bagged (we are REALLY paranoid about these chicken bones now) and placed in the trash. Keep the lids on trash cans tightly closed.
- Train your pet – Teach your dog not to steal food from the kitchen counter or dining table…this can be a challenge for even the most well-trained pet!
- Be Prepared – The American Kennel Club has outlined some steps to take in the event that your dog was to eat chicken bones. First, remain calm and try to take the bones away from him. Getting overly excited might make him try to quickly gobble up the bones before you can get them away from him. Next make sure that he isn’t choking and give your veterinarian a call to help you figure out how to handle the situation. Be sure to keep the phone numbers of your local veterinarian, the closest Pet Emergency Clinic, and the Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA) – (888)426-4435 where you can easily find them in case you have an emergency with your pet.
We consider ourselves to be responsible pet owners, but even so, accidents happen. And even more than once. My hope is that you can learn from my family’s mistakes with the chicken bones and not let this happen to your dog. Our pets ARE our best friends and we want them around us for a long time.
Brent Frayser is a media relations representative for SMARTBOX Moving and Storage, who is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (Major in Marketing, Minor in Management). He was born and raised in the south, is very outgoing, with a strong sense of determination. In his spare time, he enjoys: reading, writing, coaching baseball and football, and spending time with family and friends.