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Can Dogs Eat Fish Bones?

Fish bones arranged in the shape of the fish on a white plate on a white background

No, dogs cannot eat fish bones. Fish is one of the human foods that dogs find tantalizing, and it also offers nutritional benefits to them. For instance, fish is loaded with protein, vitamins, and useful fatty acids. However, fish bones present a completely different picture and you should NEVER give them to your pooch.

The term ‘fish bone’ refers to every bone of a fish’s skeletal system. They can either be made of cartilage or hard bone. The skull, spine, ribs (resemble spikes or thorns), fin rays, and tail are some important fish bones. The ribs of fish are too thin that we can accidentally eat them with meat and it’s dangerous for canines. Read on to learn more details about the hazards of dogs eating fish bones.

Dangers of Fish Bones for Dog

Fish bones may look harmless but, eating them can cause a lot of problems for dogs. It is not predictable that what will happen to your dog if he swallows them. Sometimes, dogs stay fine after gulping fish bones but things get serious on other occasions. Therefore, it is better to play safe by keeping fish bones out of your pup’s reach. The following are some of the biggest risks of feeding your dog fish bones.

Pierced Organs

Illustration of the anatomy of a dog

The needle-like fish bones can cause mild to serious damage to the internal organs of your dog. Fish bones are small and brittle and can easily perforate the esophagus and stomach. This will result in acute abdominal pain or sore throat and can result in serious complications.


Fish bones are of different sizes, but all of them are equally damaging. The small fish bones act like sharp needles and get lodged into the esophagus. On the other hand, big bones can get stuck horizontally in the throat, making it hard to eat and breathe. This can be very painful and even fatal for your dog.

Gastrointestinal Blockage

If your dog manages to crush the bones into splinters or crumbs, those pieces may pass through the food pipe. However, the digestive tract (which includes the small intestine and colon), is much narrower than the rest of the digestive system.

Hence, these sharp crumbs can either pierce the inner walls of the intestines. Or they can cause blockage for the chyme in the small intestine or feces in the large intestine. In both cases, you may need to pay an expensive visit to the veterinarian.

What to Do if Your Dog Ate Fish Bones?

White long haired dog standing on an exam table with vets arm over its back

Before taking any action, it is necessary that you closely analyze the condition of your dog. For example, if a large dog has eaten a small fish bone, he/she would probably be fine. However, the converse can be risky. Therefore, you must evaluate your pooch closely if he/she has consumed fish bones. Once you have figured out the situation, you can take some effective actions to relieve your pup’s discomfort.

  • Stay calm – It is very important not to panic in this situation because it will only make things worse. Yelling at your dog may scare them away from you, or they may start reacting aggressively. Hence, make sure that you remain calm and radiate the same feeling to your canine friend.
  • Look for blockages – Sit close to your dog and gently open his/her mouth to check for any visual blockages (chunks of bones). If you find any, sift them out.
  • Make the bone pass through the food pipe – Give some bread or any soft, edible item that could pad the bones and drive them down into the abdomen. You should also offer sufficient water to keep the esophagus soft. This will assist the fish bones to pass through without any trouble.

These steps are really helpful to get prepared for any serious blockage or internal bleeding. They will also alleviate the discomfort for your dog. After these initial steps, keep a vigilant eye on your dog for any evolving symptoms of blockage or choking.


Fluffy white dog turned away from a full metal bowl of dog food

Your dog will exhibit the following symptoms if a fish bone is stuck in his throat or digestive tract.

  • Restlessness
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Gasping
  • Hacking or wheezing
  • Constipation

These symptoms usually take a few hours to appear. If your dog was lucky enough, the bone will move out through the colon along with faces. However, if the feces have some blood, it could be a sign of internal bleeding. If you observe this and other symptoms, it is highly recommended to take your pooch to the vet.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Fish Bones?

Whole cooked fish on a white background

Just like other forms of meat, cooked fish bones are more dangerous than raw bones. Cooking fish bones makes them even more brittle, and they are more likely to shatter into sharp splinters. Therefore, your pup is at a much larger risk of blockages and internal bleeding if he/she ate cooked fish bones.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Bones in Powdered Form?

Gold spoon full of collagen powder held over surface covered in collagen powder

Fish bones are high in calcium and can be good for your dog’s bones and joints. We can’t feed them to canines (as a whole) because of the damage they can do. But, grinding them into powder is one way of safely feeding fish bones to dogs. Make a fine powder of some fish bones, and then you can sprinkle it on the regular dog meals. This allows dog owners to add the goodness of calcium to their pet’s diet without any danger.

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