Pets Are Important Too

What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats A Bone At A Summer Barbecue?

by Aurore Fontai

Dogs love barbecues: the sights, the smells, the people and of course, the food. Dogs can get into all manner of trouble when they eat people food, but one of the biggest threats to dogs at summer barbecues are the bones found in foods like chicken and ribs. Knowing what to do if your dog swallows a bone can help you keep your dog safe, and may even save your dog's life. 

Don't Panic

Avoid the temptation to panic when you've realized your dog has been chomping on animal bones. Small bones that are swallowed whole may pass through the bowels without creating an obstruction or perforation. Now is the time to stay with your dog, just in case he or she starts to exhibit symptoms of intestinal distress. If you can't stay near your dog because you're still dealing with guests at your barbecue, assign someone from your party to stay with your dog and watch for symptoms. 

Recognize the Signs of Intestinal Problems

Bowel obstructions and perforations are distinct problems and have different symptoms. If your dog has a blockage, he or she might exhibit the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Sluggishness
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea

Meanwhile, a perforated bowel might look like this:

  • Bloody stool or inability to have a bowel movement
  • Pain in the belly
  • Obvious discomfort
  • Shallow breathing
  • Stretching stances
  • Panting and shallow breathing

It may take hours or a day before your dog really begins to exhibit serious symptoms, and you may not be able to tell which problem your dog is having based on his or her behavior. That's alright. Your job is not to diagnose your dog, but to get him or her professional help. Call your dog's veterinarian as soon as you start to suspect that he or she has a problem. If your dog's vet is unavailable, call an animal hospital like Stewartstown Vet Services immediately. Don't attempt to treat your dog on your own. Simply call for help and follow the subsequent instructions. 

Avoid Problems in the Future

There are many steps you can take to avoid this problem in the future, including:

  • Serve burgers instead of ribs or chicken at your next barbecue.
  • Buy a dog-proof garbage with a heavy lid that will prevent your pet from getting into your guest's discarded waste. 
  • Keep food containing bones away from the edges of your tables and countertops. 
  • Make sure your dog is well-fed and well-exercised before your guests arrive. This way your dog will be full and tired, and less likely to go begging for handouts. 

To further protect your dog, keep the number for the after-hours animal hospital posted on your refrigerator or somewhere else accessible. This way you'll be able to protect your dog if anything like this ever comes up again in the future.