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Will Fish Bones Hurt My Dog?

Fish bones on a black marbled background

Dogs can munch on fish bones, but they shouldn’t. According to veterinary specialists, fish bones (raw or cooked) are brittle and delicate than bones of larger animals. Hence, they disintegrate easily, resulting in severe lacerations.

Eating fish bones can have a variety of negative repercussions, ranging from minor problems to life-threatening ones. It all depends on how many fish bones your canine companion has consumed and the extent of damage they caused. Keep reading to know why your dog shouldn’t eat fish bones and what to do if he/she has eaten them.

Why are Fish Bones Bad for Dog?

Fish bones are not suitable for dogs because they can cause injuries and blockages. A stealthy fish bone (concealed in delicate fish flesh) can pass through the dog’s system. However, fish bones can cause serious damage to your dog’s digestive tract and intestines, especially in small dogs. Likewise, a larger fish bone is more likely to cause problems than a tiny one.

Dogs are renowned for loving and chewing on bones, but fish bones are a different story. They are not suitable as chew toys due to their fragile nature. Some of the reasons why your furry friend should not eat fish bones are as follows.


Close up of a fish head on a white background

Some owners don’t feed their dogs fish bones, but they occasionally use fish heads as a treat. Dogs are captivated by their aroma while you prepare them on the grill. However, there’s a chance that a fish head can be dangerous for your canine.

A fish head is nothing more than a solid mass of bone, cartilage, and brain. It can create a blockage if your dog gets too enthusiastic and doesn’t chew it thoroughly before swallowing it. Therefore, it is only recommended to give your pup a fish head if he/she eats fish regularly.


Fish bones are finicky and delicate little creatures, and you may have gotten one stuck in your throat. Now, imagine the danger a fish bone can possess for dogs because they eat with far less discrimination. Hence, the first risk of giving fish bones to our dogs is that they can get choked. Fish bones can be quite difficult to remove because they get trapped in another place in the digestive tract.

Damage to Organs

Illustration of a dog's digestive track

A fish bone can scrape or perforate one of your dog’s internal organs. Peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdomen, is a life-threatening disease that can result from this damage. Although your dog won’t always die of peritonitis, it’s still categorized as a fatal disease. Peritonitis in dogs has a 50-70 percent mortality rate and perforation of an internal organ is its most prevalent cause.

What to Do If Your Dog Ate Fish Bones?

Beagle sneaking fried fish from a plate on a dining table

A couple of fish bones may not be an issue for most dogs. However, eating too many bones (or swallowing a large one) can cause severe organ perforation. This can lead to a variety of complications, including death.

If you believe your dog has ingested fish bones, the first thing to do is to stay calm. Then, you will need to perform some crucial actions to deal with the fish bone your dog has swallowed. Let’s discuss some steps to provide the best possible treatment to your dog.  

Figure Out the Size of Ingested Bones

The size of the bone is very important to determine the damage it can do. This is because a tiny, soft bone is not the same as a larger one. Fish bones are usually quite fragile, so they can be ingested without causing any harm. If the bone is small enough, your dog may be able to pass it through without difficulty.

In this case, you won’t need to do much other than keeping an eye on your pup’s health. Make sure they aren’t displaying any signs of pain or discomfort. When they are ready to release themselves, examine their feces to see if the bone is removed or not.

Watch Out for Choking

Dog on an exam table being examined by 2 vets

Choking is one of the first reactions your dog may have after eating a fish bone. It may have lodged in the dog’s throat or mouth and will hamper the breathing of your pooch. Similarly, your pooch could be in excruciating pain from a bone puncture wound.

The bone can also become lodged in the intestines, stomach, or other internal organs. They are also at the risk of being punctured which will result in some repercussions. If your dog starts choking, contact your veterinarian right away and try to remove the trapped bone.

If a canine doesn’t get enough oxygen through its nose, things can go astray very quickly. This is why trapped fish bones are considered deadly and must be removed right away.

Ease the Digestion

If the fish bone has passed the mouth and throat without causing a choke, you need to aid its digestion. You should try to protect the stomach and intestines from being pierced by the bone. The following actions can be useful in this regard.

  • Make sure your dog has regular access to water. This will move the bone along and also prevent constipation and dehydration.
  • Offer some bread to your pooch as it can soften the bone in the stomach. This will preserve the organ walls against any damage.

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