Can Cats & Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?

Written by rebecca epstein
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Can Cats & Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?
Dogs and cats can sometimes safely eat chicken bones. (Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Though they are quite a few generations removed from their wild cousins, dogs are similar to wolves and cats are similar to lions. Canines and felines like to eat raw foods and meat, much like wolves and lions do. Wolves are known for raiding chicken coops and eating their fill, but can dogs safely eat chicken bones, too? What about cats, who sometimes kill and eat birds? The answer is yes -- but only in certain circumstances.

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Raw Chicken Bones

Dogs and cats can both safely eat uncooked chicken bones. It is OK to feed a dog or a cat a raw chicken wing or breast with bones in it, though consumption of raw poultry is unsafe for humans due to the potential for bacterial content. Raw chicken bones are soft and flexible, and they are digested easily by cats and dogs. Many dogs and cats enjoy eating raw bones such as chicken bones.

Can Cats & Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?
Raw chicken and raw chicken bones are safe for dogs and cats to eat. (Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Cooked Chicken Bones

Cooked chicken bones are very unsafe for dogs and cats to eat. When heated, chicken bones become brittle and break up into sharp shards when chewed. These sharp pieces of bone can become lodged anywhere in the digestive tract, such as the throat or the intestine. While cooked chicken without the bones is perfectly safe for dogs and cats, the bones are not. Dogs and cats can eat most meats and bones raw.

Can Cats & Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?
Roofus remembers the Best Thanksgiving Ever like it was yesterday. (Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Health Consequences

Most dogs and cats who eat cooked chicken bones will be OK, but there is a risk of severe injury. When dogs or cats chew on cooked chicken bones, the bones might shatter into small, sharp pieces in the mouth. These pieces can pierce the mouth or pierce any part of the digestive tract, or they can form a blockage in the digestive tract. These problems often require surgery as a remedy.

Benefits of Raw Bones

Raw bones are good for dogs and cats to eat. Raw chicken bones are healthy for dogs and cats to eat because they promote tooth and gum health, as well as jaw health because of the chewing required to eat them. Raw bones also help to clean pets' teeth as they are chewed, and they take a longer time to eat than commercial dog and cat foods, which allows the digestive system to prepare for the meal.

Can Cats & Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?
A raw food diet is a healthy supplement or replacement to commercial food for cats and dogs. (David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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