Can Dogs Eat Fish Bones?

Today’s episode is inspired by a question sent in by Jake, who’s wrestling with whether or not to give his dog some fish bones. Often, it is hard to make logical decisions when your gut and logic disagree.

Fish bones are any bones in fish, including the delicate parts of the skeleton of a bony fish. They could be raw or cooked. The following insights will help you understand why or why not it is invaluable to include them in your pet’s diet.

Should Dogs Eat Fish Bones?

No. Dogs should not eat fish bones since they cause gastrointestinal injuries. These bones will likely get stuck in the gut, intestines, throat, and mouth, posing a choking hazard and intestinal obstruction.

Fish bones are small, fragile, and brittle, which can easily break or get lodged in the dog’s digestive system. In extreme cases, this can be painful and fatal for your dog, meaning you must consult a vet immediately.

Soft-boned fish, including sardines, are an exception to this rule. The bones in these fish are relatively easy to consume and digest.

However, if you have to feed your dog these fish bones, ensure that you grind them using a meat grinder. You’ll sprinkle the resultant powder on the dog’s food before feeding it.

Prevention is the most suitable approach toward cushioning your dog against injuries. Ensure that your pet does not access these bones. Cooked fishbones will likely splinter, causing coughing, tiredness, weakness, excessive licking, and restlessness.

What Happens To A Dog After Eating Fishbones?

Fishbones can pose a life threat to your dog, particularly when lodged in sensitive parts of the gastrointestinal system. Dogs with small esophagus are likely to suffocate as they prevent proper breathing.

However, these fishbones can pass through the tract into the stomach or intestines, causing further health issues. Here are the most common effects of eating fishbones.

Gastrointestinal Blockage

Fishbones are foreign objects in the dog’s system, blocking the intestines, which makes it difficult to excrete feces. The blockage will vary with where the bone is lodged. You’ll need medical intervention in extreme cases. However, the problem could naturally disappear after a few hours or days.


Peritonitis is the inflammation of the dog’s peritoneum, often after a bacterial infection. This infection results from the rupture of various gastrointestinal parts caused by the fishbones.

Peritonitis is a life-threatening condition that requires instant medical attention. Its clinical symptoms include reduced blood pressure, abdominal pain, paralytic intestinal obstruction, abdominal swelling, vomiting, and reduced fecal output.


Suppose the fishbones get caught in the large intestines. Then, your dog will likely not pass its fecal matter, resulting in constipation. Its clinical signs include lethargy, unproductive straining, vomiting, and appetite loss.

Injuries And Ulcers

Fishbones are brittle and sharp, piercing the gastrointestinal tract lining. These pokes and bone fragments can inflame the digestive system and trigger stomach ulcers.

Some dogs will also suffer organ perforation, which differs in extent. Extensive perforation causes internal bleeding, meaning your dog will likely have blood in its stool and vomit.

Signs That Your Dog Has Eaten Fishbones

Accidents happen, and so can your dog eat fishbones accidentally. Various signs can help show that bones are stuck in your dog’s stomach or tract. They include the following.


Dogs often try to cough out or vomit foreign objects in their gastrointestinal system, including fishbones. Vomiting and coughing could successfully remove all or some fishbones stuck in the system. Even so, you must consult a vet for further medical help.


Your dog’s body temperature will likely rise after ingesting fishbones. It is a sign that the gastrointestinal system has been ruptured, triggering bacterial infection. Increasing body temperature is a physiological adjustment to help fight the bacteria.

Abdominal Pain

Your dog will likely experience abdominal cramps if foreign objects are stuck in the stomach or intestines. Gastrointestinal obstruction and bacterial infection in the digestive system can trigger this pain, including abdominal swelling. In such instances, your dog will sleep in weird positions and feel discomfort.

Loss Of Appetite

An unusual, sudden loss of appetite shows that your dog has something stuck in its esophagus. Gastrointestinal obstruction also means no food or liquid will go through the GI tract, limiting the dog’s appetite.


Fish bones can poke the gastrointestinal tract lining, forcing blood to come out. You will notice this blood in your dog’s vomit and stool. Once you see blood, take your dog to a vet.

At the same time, your dog will likely have pale gums, meaning they turn white or pale pink. Pale pinks often signal blood loss, including anemia. The same could happen in the inner eyelids of your dog.


Constipation arises if the fishbones obstruct the large intestines, making it difficult for the dog to pass fecal matter.

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Fishbones?

A dog could eat fishbones and pass them out without any difficulty. You will not need to consult professionals for medical help in such instances. However, you’ll need to take various remedial steps if the bones rapture the GI tract or injure the dog.

First, monitor your dog for discomfort, pain, and fishbone injuries. Open the dog’s mouth to confirm whether any bones could block the airways and remove them. You will also need to give it bread and enough water to cushion its stomach.

Ensure that your dog gets medical attention once you notice any signs of fishbone injuries. An emergency animal hospital will be an excellent choice, guaranteeing immediate medical attention.

Surgical intervention could be necessary in extreme cases. This procedure aims to remove all the foreign material in the abdomen, allowing the dog to eat and pass fecal matter effortlessly.

You could also consider induced vomiting, which allows the dog to expel the bones lodged in some parts of the GI tract. Yet, your dog will still need medical attention to help avert bacterial infection.

Healthy Alternatives To Fish Bones

Dogs need approximately 1 mg of calcium per calorie daily. This mineral supports healthy bone development, muscle contraction, blood clotting, and heart health in dogs.

Fishbones are considered an excellent source of calcium. Yet, they will likely pose a health threat to your pet. Investing in healthier and safer alternatives will protect you against unexpected vet expenses.

Sardines are among the best alternatives to fishbones, as they are edible, digestible, and full of calcium. Eggshells are also an ideal source of calcium. However, you must grind them before adding them to your dog’s diet. Offering your dog yogurt in moderation could also help.

Bottom Line

While you want a healthy dog, you cannot offer it calcium-rich fishbones. These bones will guarantee enough minerals yet threaten the health and safety of your pet. Always consult a vet if you suspect your dog has ingested these bones, as they can cause adverse perforations, injuries, and tissue tears.

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