Stuff that can't happen happens all the time.

... or does it???

One day I was eating some chicken, outdoors, somewhere in Africa, with a colleague I had been living with for a few months and two brand new visitors, Dick and Jane1 from the US. After cleaning most, but not all, of the meat off a leg bone, I tossed it to Hozi the Cat, who eagerly grabbed it and took it behind my chair to munch it down.

Jane, lunging at the cat, "No, no. No!!!! She'll die, she'll choke to death!"

The cat moved behind a different chair, with half the bone, the other half already having been munched down.

"Oh, don't worry, I feed her all the chicken bones. She can't choke on them. She's a cat. Her mother also ate all the chicken bones, 'till she was killed by that rabid dog. Her daddy was a wild cat. He's probably watching us right now from the jungle while he munches on some bones."

Looking around, still scampering after the cat, "Cats can't eat bones, they choke on the splinters."

"No they don't. It's never happened," I said. Yes, I admit, I was taunting her.

"I know a cat that did!" she yelled, following the cat, still dragging its bone, behind the dish drying rack next to the baraza.2


"What?" said Jane, now following the cat to it's place next to my chair. It's bone was all eated and it wanted another.

"What was the name of the cat that you saw choke to death on a chicken bone before your very eyes, Jane?"

"Well, I didn't see it. It was, I think, my cousin's cat."

"What was it's name? I said sternly, "If you don't know its name, you don't know it existed, and if you don't know it existed, you don't know it died from eating a chicken bone."

Jane fell silent, despondent almost. I dropped a mess of wing bones in front of Hozi. She eated them all, and did not die. Later, she ate the backbone.

I'm not going to try to tell you that dogs don't die from eating bones, because a) there are too many dog-symps out there who believe that they do and b) for all I know they do it all the time. Dogs are probably too domesticated to trust doing what millions of years of evolution has prepared them for (eating the bones). Not that I can name a single dog that died of eating a bone. Maybe you can. If you do, though, make it real. You have to have been in the house where it happened and you have to have seen the dead dog and heard the vet say that it really died of choking on a bone. That is not too much to ask. Real evidence, not just that you heard about it or that you believe it must have happened. X-rays of the bone in the throat.

I wonder if Mythbusters would be interested in taking this one on. It is a lot like many other myths they have addressed, and the incredulity that leads one to even call something a myth (which does have the connotation that it is untrue) is similar. Why just the other day I was watching Mythbusters and they were asking some dude about some myth and the guy said "Yeah, I hear that happens all the time." Then there was a bit of a passe. "But when you ask a guy if he actually saw it happen, it's always the same answer .. no. Everyone tells you it happens but no one can ever honestly say they saw it happen. I don't think it happens."

So some years ago I was walking back from the bar with Laura3 and two other people when the question of a Korean Airliner blowing up over the Western Pacific came up.

Laura said, "Yeah, did you hear they released the tapes from the cockpit?"

"No," someone said.

"The last words were the son of the co-pilot, who was visiting the cockpit. He said 'what's this button daddy.'"

I assumed she was joking.

"Yeah, that's when it came out that 747s have a destruct button."

I continued to assume she was joking. But eventually it became clear that she was not. She really thought that it went down that way. I didn't say anything. Then a couple of months later this conversation happened:

Laura, "Yeah, that guy at the bar, they should have tossed him out," referring to some guy who was behaving poorly at the local bar where a bunch of us had been having lunch. "Back in my day as a bartender," which, as I recalled, was like last week, "I would have Visene'd him."

"Visene'd him?"

"Yeah, slipped a few drops of Visene eye drops in his beer. Cant' taste it, but in a few minutes you have uncontrollable diarrhea. Tends to make the poorly behaved customer go home. All bartenders know about this and do it all the time."

Well, OK, I thought. Nice trick. I'll have to remember to always be nice to 'Laura.'

Then, much later in time, in fact, earlier today, I came across this in our local news:

... Woman Accused Of Sickening Roommate With Eye Drops

OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) -- A 22-year-old woman is accused of putting eye drops in her roommate's water bottle to make her sick.


According to a Winnebago County criminal complaint, Reichel's roommate was nauseated and had diarrhea, loss of appetite and fatigue in October. Her doctor couldn't explain the symptoms.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Reichel told someone she had spiked her roommate's water and laughed about it. That person told the victim, and police got involved.

Reichel allegedly said she was inspired by a scene in the movie "Wedding Crashers."


So, I thought that was interesting and posted it on facebook, and that's when Ryan Gagne, an astute observer and close personal facebook friend, pointed me to the page on the Visene thing. It appears that Visene can make you quite sick, but diarrhea is NOT one of the symptoms, and it is not true that a few drops works, and it is true that it can be quite dangerous and that you shouldn't put this stuff in people's drinks.

Myth. Busted.

So what happened in Oshkosh? Here's my theory, which happens to fit the facts but still might be be totally wrong. The roommate got sick because she had the Norovirus which was going around at the time. The alleged culprit, deluded, thinking she was being funny, whatever, boasted a lie, a lie based on a myth. She said she did something that even if she did, she couldn't have. And for this, she got herself into some real hot water.

Roommate. Busted.

This is a totally LOL situation, especially if she serves time for doing something that can't be done. Funny not because I want to see someone go to prison but because she'd be going to prison for engaging in this very common and quite disturbing delusional behavior.

I quickly add, I could have this totally wrong. I have no idea what actually happened. That was just a hypothesis.

Somewhere along the line, if I'm right, I imagine she'll have to own up to making the whole thing up. I wonder if she has a cat. Or a dog.


1Not their real names.
2A ramada; A leaf-covered roof held up by four or more polls, usually open on all sides, serves as an eating and gathering area in a traditional Central African village.
3Not her real name.

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I could see a dog choking on a bone, just because they are stupid and tend to gulp food. I've pulled sticks out of my dogs mouths that became wedged when they chewed them. This is not saying that they would have eventually worked it out themselves, but I'm not one to watch a dog suffer unnecessarily, just because it is stupid. I have a huge Monterrey Pine in my yard. The sticks must either taste good, or satisfy some need, because the misadventures never stopped them. Sometimes they accidentally chew on a stick from the wax privet, which gives them explosive diarrhea, they've never learned to tell the difference....or at least soon enough to prevent the diarrhea!

My dog just finished eating a good-sized (3" x 1") beef bone. He crunched it all up in about an hour, and as far as I know swallowed all the pieces. I give him pork and beef bones fairly regularly with no ill effects - but I have never given him a chicken bone, because of the legend.

According to this legend, raw chicken bones are OK for dogs, because they do not splinter. I do personally know a guy who feeds his sled dogs whole, bone-in, raw chickens. I have seen the dogs. They are alive.

the issue with dogs and bones is NOT so much that they will choke on them. the bones sometimes splinter and/or somehow get stuck in their gut. the concern is not that they can't swallow it. dogs are incredibly garbage guts. they eat just about anything.

and sometimes they try to pass the freaking bone and it doesn't come out , leading to obstruction and perforation. most people who have ever owned a dog can come up with the time that they had to pull some contaminant out of their dogs butt.

one dog died - of a perforated bowel or stomach due to undigested shards of bone. he got the bone down alright. but it killed him. his name was Coal.
you wrote about the wrong story. swallowing the stuff isn't the big problem. it's digesting and passing it without it ripping a hole in you that's the problem.

and as a city person.. I have to pick up that crap that comes out the other end .. and bones and too much fat make it NASSS-TY.

give em dog biscuits instead!

Marcus, I wrote about what people talk about.

X-rays? Not that I don't believe you ... in fact, wild snakes die of eating the wild animals they eat because of gut perforations, sometimes. Hell, there's probably dogs that dies of swallowing Alpo wrong. I'm sure dogs (even wolves) could die this way. But if we are going to enter an actual dog on to some list of actual dogs that actually died of eating a bone, we need the x-rays.

The specific myth is that chicken bones (sometimes it is said as cooked, sometimes not specified) splinter and get stuck in the throat of a dog, choking it to death, or in its GI tract, causing fatal internal bleeding. Of course that could happen but highly unlikely to be more than a freak accident. Cooked = brittle. Dogs in the wild eat old brittle bones all the time, documented at wolf studies where they will revisit an old moose or whatevs and chew up old ribs etc., not unlike cooked chicken bones. Dogs have well protected internal GI tract and throat, etc, for this very purpose. It can happen but it would have to be said a rare event indeed.

Now that's funny, I was just watching an Australian reality-tv show today called Bondi Vet ( with my girlfriend (who is a vet). One of the sick dogs that appeared in this episode was choking with chicken bones and they almost perforated his stomach and killed him.

maybe it had eaten a cat that had chicken bones in it...

It was a dog, Greg, I'm not sure about his breed tough, he had the size of a Labrador and was black if I remember well. It was an pretty gruesome scene, they showed the endoscope image while the bones and fat were removed with a forceps(?) from his esophagus. I'm trying to find an episode guide to give you a better pointer but there is none that works properly on my iPhone right now.

I once had a dog who choked on a bone... except it wasn't a real bone, it was one of those rawhide chewy bones with the knots on the ends. :P The dumbass chewed one of the knots off and proceeded to try to swallow the whole thing instead of chewing it into smaller pieces. Mom had to pull the Heimlich on her. She lived, her name was Dolly, and we didn't give her those bones again. :P

Anyway, she never had any chicken bones, but she snarfed plenty of steak bones in her time with no problems. Would chicken bones be more prone to splintering than mammalian bones on account of being hollow? I suppose they would... that we cleared that up did you know that one raisin will kill a dog!! wife won't let me give our dog the burned crust of my raisin bread toast because raisins are like chocolate to dogs,it will drop them like a rock.

Here's one I read about awhile back. Big cats starved to death in a side show zoo. One is given Turkey bones (but no water) and as a result, has its intestines punctured. This happened in New Braunfels, Texas. I read the original news report about this several years back, but this is it being reproduced on another website here.

While there were other circumstances that lead to this happening, it still must have been a horridly painful, terrible death.

'..Bellin gave the zoo owners six weeks to improve conditions. He apparently did not seek emergency removal of the animals or try to have the zoo closed down. A few days after his inspection, the female lion killed and ate the male. A male Bengal tiger also died after splintered turkey bones punctured its intestinal tract because it had no drinking water to flush them through its system. Before it expired, the tiger chewed its metal water bowl to pieces.'

it's not that they are chicken bones that make them bad for dogs, it's a particular piece of bone that is present in the drumstick of chickens. Next time you eat a drumbstick notice the small piece of bone that is about the size and shape of a large sewing needle. A dog might scarf this down whole, and it can and has done a lot of damage. I think people have just generalized this bit of info to all chicken bones, which is what makes it sem silly.

When I was about 10, our dog Maddie (a rat-terrier/beagle mix-breed) was chewing on some left over chicken bones from dinner, and we heard a choking noise from her direction. We managed to hold her still and found that she had a shard of bone stuck up against her soft palate between her teeth. I doubt that in the long run it would have killed her, but I can't say for certain. We took the rest of the bones away from her, and didn't feed her chicken bones anymore.

Fed my Dog (a super-sized labrador) with bones from beef, veal, porc, and chicken bones and even carcass that she would gulp in three to four bites. By the way, in France, the myth is not that dogs can get killed by chicken bones, but by rabbits bones (especially the small, sharp ones), and, because we did not want to take risk, we never gave the dog any chicken bone.

By Laurent Weppe (not verified) on 22 Jan 2011 #permalink

From the movie 'Monster from a Prehistoric Planet':

Hiroshi: "Professor, do you think it is possible that the Gappa could fly?"
Professor: "Hmm...the wings wouldn't be developed. I don't think they could fly."
Hiroshi: "But Professor, isn't it true that even the impossible happens sometimes?"
Professor: "That is correct."

By Phillip IV (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

Don't feed kittens dry cat food unless you have moistened it first and allowed it to soften. They have difficulty chewing and breaking up the dry food and will sometimes swallow it whole and choke (die) on it. I suppose the same could be true of puppies.

And don't think you can get away with this because you're watching them. They can be dead before you even know there's anything wrong.

One time I threw my German Shepherd a chicken bone, which I fed a lot them to her. But this time she started gagging and sure enough the bone was lodged cross ways down her throat. I had to reach in and retrieve it. Had I not been there I hate to think what would happened.

True Story

I once had a dog who choked on a bone... except it wasn't a real bone, it was one of those rawhide chewy bones with the knots on the ends. :P

The choke-proof "bones"? That proves something. But not something about bones! that we cleared that up did you know that one raisin will kill a dog!!.

That sounds vaguely familiar....

Raptor, interesting story about the cats. Cats (and to a lesser extent dogs) use various viscous fluids to line their guts. Lack of water may have interfered with that process.

Notice that all the other cats and dogs survived. A flying chicken bone would not happen in nature. There are no x-rays.

So even though, as I say in the post, I expect dogs to die of chicken bone injection, so far the body count is not that impressive.

Also, would this be a bigger problem for small dogs? And, would this be a bigger problem for dogs that never (normally) get bones at all?

Cooked bones are more brittle and MAY splinter and cause perforated intestines. Wild felines and canines usually are eating raw bones from fresh-killed prey.

FDA lists the problems.

Give raw bones that are too big to splinter and take them away before they get brittle and yucky. has bones as #8 ... below balls, chew toys, and various articles of clothing (apparently from various vet journals.) They aren't clear on how many incidents happen.

(I sense a research project ... how many surgeries per week per vet? And how many dogs a week do they see?)

By Tsu Dho Nimh (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

Never mind whether it's safe of not, I've always given dogs and cats meat, not the bones. Giving them bones makes me feel like a cheapskate, like I was eating fresh cooked meals and giving kids leftovers.

I once heard of a woman who swallowed a fly. She then proceeded to swallow various other organisms to move the fly up the food chain. That treatment modality was unsuccessful according to the apocryphal story.

My Mom would cook chicken in a pressure cooker and we would give the bones to our St. after. She loved them and never had a problem digesting them. I've avoided giving my dog un-pressure cooked chicken bones just in case.

As far as another issue is concerned: chocolete poising dogs. For some time I've heard of that, and then in one of the periodicals I get I read the amount it would take and stopped worrying. That would I guess be a kind of sort of true thingy: Pounds and pounds apparently.

As far as chocolate goes, I think lawguy is probably correct. The dog we had when I was a child once ate several Hersheys bars that my mother and I got for Valentines Day. We left them on the sofa accidentally, and Lucky (a lab/chow mix of some sort) pulled them off and devoured them, one of the few bad things she ever did. We panicked and worried about her for a few days, but she never had any side effects from it.
And for the record: she was never given bones of any kind.

This vet site reminds me of the apocryphal brown recluse spider sites. Dogs died from having collars around their necks and from frizbee accidents too.

The barf site is interesting. It uses the argument (which may or may not be accurate) that there are multiple "origins" of dogs from wolf ancestry to argue that, therefore, dogs are way different from wolves. But the fact that dogs and wolves easily interbreed combined with multiple domestications really says the opposite: Dogs are wolves, they are all the same species.

Having said that, I totally agree that dogs' diets and health issues are likely to be different from wolves, with some breeds being less different and some breeds being more different. This is true generally of domesticated animals. Cattle have all sorts of problems you'd never see in wild cattle (or that would be very very rare). Some varieties of domestic pig are routinely born without an open anus, and the farmer needs to ... install one, as it were ... when they are born. That would not be a characteristic of a wild animal. and so on.

Which is why I leave open the distinct possibility of dogs choking on bones.

The vet site is indeed interesting, and not very convincing. An x-ray of a dog that is alive, with an image that might be a bone in its gut, is not meaningful or good proof off anything. I'm sure that vets see problems with bones in dogs, but I remain unconvinced that it is common.

I had a border collie back in the 60's that managed to get a ham bone stuck at the back of her jaw,she could not close her mouth and was very distraught. We had to use a hack saw to cut it out, she didn't struggle at all and patiently allow us to help her, she was *really* happy when that bone came out, had she been in the wild...well the bone wouldn't have been the cut in that shape.
(OK,not a chicken bone and not a cat,it's my best bone-pet story)

The thing about bones and pets is, if they have always eaten them , they have gained experience and or less likely to choke, unless of course the dog or cat does not learn or is too hungry to care.

I have a cat that chases coyotes, I wonder how long she will do that!

By Sphere coupler (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

This is taken from the Merck Veterinary Manual, 8th edition.

Chocolate. Chocolate poisoning depends on a few factors, including what kind of chocolate it is. Baker's chocolate is the most dangerous, because it's the least diluted with milk. "The LD is reported to be between 250 and 500 mg/kg; however, deaths have been reported at dosages as low as 115 mg/kg. Clinical signs of toxicity can occur with ingestion of ~0.04 oz (1.3 mg) of baker's chocolate or 0.4 oz (13 mg) of milk chocolate/kg body wt. The half-life of theobromien in dogs, ~17.5 hr, is long in comparison to that of other species." In cattle the main problem with them is that they are feed cacaco byproducts, like shells and meal, which have about 1-3% theobromine in them. Snopes has more

Onions (just cause I was surprised at this one) - "Cattle are more susceptible than horses and dogs, which are more susceptible than sheep and goats... Livestock readily consume cull or overproduced onions, with anemia developing within days of exposure. Toxcosis in cattle associated with prolonged ingestion of large amounts of onions." Although it takes a lot to make them sick (as a cup or more), Iâve also read this effect is cumulative in dogs (but I canât seem to find where â so take that as you will).

Grapes â Hereâs the Snopes (again)
And apparently, it doesnât take many. Poisoning has been reported in as much as a pound of grapes, to a single serving. I suspect a lot has to do with the size of the dog. I knew a rotty who liked to peal and eat the skins of grapes (though I don't think she ever ate the grapes themselves).

I have a cat that chases coyotes, I wonder how long she will do that!

Until one of them turns around?

Baker's chocolate is the most dangerous

This is a bit of a misnomer because "Baker's Chocolate" is a brand, and the word "Baker" comes from a family name. (I don't care what Wikipedia says, I did the archaeology for the original Baker's mill.)

Baking chocolate is most pure, and a famous brand of that stuff is Bakers. So, if it does not say "bakers" but is still "baking" be careful with the dog!

A German Shepard bitch named Dancer, in Venezuela, was routinely fed cooked chicken bones and never had a problem. However, as a small child, I was taken to see Granny somebody, who showed us the piece of chicken pully bone which had perforated her stomach, then penetrated her liver, and had to be surgically removed.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

Damn you're good, actually she saw her siblings *get it* so she always keeps her escape route closer than her predator, and she expects them to flank her, so she's always checking the bush, she never chases past a certain point (the distance between her escape route and the bush).

Coy dogs or coyotes around here hunt in cooperative packs.

It's probably my fault, I've always treated her like a dog,
She has never heard the words kitty kitty kitty.

By Sphere coupler (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

The Chocolate thing is a bit interesting as well. The same rat-terrier/beagle mix-breed one easter got into all of our chocolate candies while we were at church in the morning. She even unwrapped a bunch of the Hershey's Kisses and ate at least two chocolate bunnies. I don't remember her even getting an upset stomach from the incident. This was a dog that weight probably less than 20 lbs and ate almost a pound of chocolate.

Subsequently, my father who loved eating chocolate chips from the bag would toss her a few every time she was around. She never suffered any ill effects from the chips, and died at a pretty good old age of 18 of arthritis.

My dog swallowed cooked chicken with bones that she snatched on the street.
A few hours later she was yelping. So I felt her belly, and that seemed painful too. I fed her a second dinner based on advice on the net, to encourage the bones to move along. The vets said the swallowed bones might be dangerous so I took her to the ER.
But they took x-rays and couldn't see any obstruction, and she was fine later.

Adam: The thing is, most "chocolate" candies in the US barely contain any chocolate. Now, of your dog was allergic to corn, that would be a whole 'nuther story!

Sphere: So your wild canids are hybrids?

Some of them are, they are not as successful as the coyotes and are selected out, and hunted out, in years past there was a group that had very short legs...they didn't last.

By Sphere Coupler (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink


It truly was amasing how fast they could run, though not as fast as the rest of the pack.
I've seen some coyotes sprinting across a field and it looks like a good ten foot or slghtly more of flight between groundings.

These *cats* were haulin ass, and not long after followed the hunting dogs...then the hunter...and then in this case...silence.

By Sphere Coupler (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

My late lamented Lab-Queensland Heeler cross scarfed a couple of family-size blocks of Cadbury Dairy Milk choc, a couple of raw potatoes, and some very nice sirloin steaks the family was planning on having for dinner, when my mother accidentally left one of the grocery bags in the car with the dog for about 10 mins. And then, to add insult to injury, the dog threw up all over the back seat. It was more likely overeating than chocolate poisoning.

I remember the episode of Bondi Vet mentioned above. Not as nasty as ep where a tiny dog ate a thong (bathing suit, not Aussie footware). They had real trouble removing that before it strangled the intestine.

By neon-elf.myope… (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

@Gwen #1
Last month my dog vomited up pine needles. I could readily identify them in this undigested state. Dumb dog chewed up a branch from the Christmas tree!
On the topic of letting pets consume chicken bones:
The domestic canine has survived (actually thrived)by eating the food scraps leftover from humans. But now we have veterinarians to consult. Somehow the logic behind feeding pets chicken bones reminds me of the logic for home birthing.

I think the really neat thing about my cat is when her bowl runs out of water she will scoot it around to draw my attention, yet when she runs out of food she will ask to be let out to hunt, she also only defecates outside, well unless it's really really nasty outside.

True story, when the 3 of them were kittens They would follow me to the woods with mother tagging along crying for them to come back, I would stop and teach them to climb trees (which is in their capability) I introduced this to them and after a few trips I could point and snap my fingers, they would respond by climbing the tree I pointed out.Before long they had a favorite tree by my home.

A neighbor stopped by to chat one day and told me that everyday on his way to work, at day break, 3 raccoons would run to my front road tree and climb up...With a smile on my face I whistled and out from the barn, my 3 kittens ran all the way from the barn to me, 150 foot (2 of them have/had raccoon markings) I pointed to the tree and snapped my fingers and up the tree they went...I said "those raccoons?"

Well it was kinda dark...(as he hung and shook his head)

By Sphere Coupler (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

"Laura, it was probably the sauce."

ha ha. No, I think she was in pain from chicken bones but her body managed to move them on by the time the vets got to her.
Greg, what this boils down to is that it's a *risk* feeding chicken bones to a dog (and maybe a cat). And those other foods. That you do it and haven't had problems, doesn't contradict that. It only means that it doesn't always cause problems.
I feed my dog large raw bones like lamb bones. That seems pretty safe.
Cooked bones are different because they get less pliable, and wolves would almost never eat them.
by the way I've experienced dogs getting small bones stuck in their palate. That's very minor compared to getting stuck further down.

When I was a veterinary technician student 16 years ago, we saw a young Boxer that had wolfed down a rib bone (unsure of what animal it was from) which perfectly fit his trachea. We unsuccessfully attempted for some time to retrieve it with a scope and he suffocated. Don't recall his name, but he died and I watched it happen.
Just last year (different clinic, different city) we retrieved the "T-bone" from a steak that was stuck in the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach in a small mix breed dog. We got it out but it had done so much damage the owners elected euthanasia since the dog would likely be unable to eat normally ever again. I guess in a sense, feeding the dog that bone ultimately killed it.
I've also seen numerous dogs crack their large upper chewing tooth eating bones and cow hooves and ending up with large abscesses. No death involved, but not fun, and comparatively expensive to not feeding your dog these things.

Greg, what this boils down to is that it's a *risk* feeding chicken bones to a dog (and maybe a cat). And those other foods. That you do it and haven't had problems, doesn't contradict that. It only means that it doesn't always cause problems.

For dogs, I agree, but not cats. Or, more specifically, the concern that there is a serious risk that cats will be injured by eating their main prey (little critters with the bones in them) is a myth. Of course, any animal can drown in its own water bowl, but still. I see no xrays of cats that died from a bone. I've been asking this question for 20 years. A fair number of dog examples (as expected) but no cats. And many of the dog examples are not impressive. If you save the dog how do you know it wasn't just playing around?

My ex business partner (who was a drunk and an idiot) once owned a large black Labrador. I flew into town for a meeting one day and we had lunch at Fuddrucker's hamburger place. On the way out, my partner asked if he could have some of the beef bones for his dog, and the manager obliged with a plastic garbage bag of bones.

When he got home, my partner gave his dog all of the bones in a pile; the dog went berserk and was too dangerous to approach. He ate all of the bones as fast as he could and died of a perforated stomach.

By CherryBomb (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

My uncle was a federal predator control agent down in the Rig Grand Valley. He told me the most difficult predators to control were packs of feral dogs. He said they know too much about people. A rancher friend who had had to deal with a good many dogs killing his sheep, gave me some wise advice, "Never tell a man you shot his dog."

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

Cherrybomb: Dogs do tend to resemble their owners. Or no, wait. Was it the dog or your partner that died of the perforated stomach?

"Not that I can name a single dog that died of eating a bone. Maybe you can."

From choking on a bone - easy enough, a dog named "Druzhok" ("a friend" in Russian).

Yeah, it's a rare event. But people die from choking on food too, even after millions years of evolution.

By Alex Besogonov (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

Jenn, interesting that those are mostly highly bred breeds, which generally have a wide range of other problems.

And none of them were cats.

I found the same info Raptor did on chocolate--on Christmas Day eve. I had a foster dog (he just went to his new home Friday), a beagle who is a real chow hound. I thought I'd put everything away and went upstairs to put my daughter to bed. Herbie didn't join us as he usually did and when I came back down I found the wrapper from a large Lindt 85% cocoa bar. Herbie had found this bar in a small gift bag left on a chair--there was an untouched milk chocolate bar in there too.

Called a vet in my family and she said it would be a good idea to induce vomiting. Hydrogen peroxide (2 tbsp) worked like a charm.* She really wasn't sure if the bar would really cause him problems. I found good info online regarding chocolate and if that bar really had 85% cocoa in it, it could have caused him some problems. Theobromine is the culprit and could cause heart problems, seizures and death. Herbie's only about 30 lbs so that much cocoa could have caused him problems. Besides, I didn't want to take the chance that I'd have to take him to the emergency clinic--we were about to get a snowstorm. He turned out just fine.

*Decided to clean up the vomitus in the yard too, he'd have just eaten it again later--poor guy, his dinner came up too.

By Lynn Wilhelm (not verified) on 23 Jan 2011 #permalink

Greg Laden:

But the fact that dogs and wolves easily interbreed combined with multiple domestications really says the opposite: Dogs are wolves, they are all the same species. Having said that, I totally agree that dogs' diets and health issues are likely to be different from wolves, with some breeds being less different and some breeds being more different.

Definitely; consider that Europeans are much more closely related to Asians than dogs are wolves, yet have a significant dietary difference -- Europeans tend to retain the ability to digest lactose into adulthood, while Asians often do not.

Dogs and cats can definitely swallow and choke on or have their gut perforated by bones, though it's not something millions of them are dying from today. Most vets discourage giving either species bones (of any kind) or even rawhides or other supposedly-safe products because almost anything solid which resists rapid digestion has the potential to produce a bowel obstruction. It's not bone-ness that does it. And I would be shocked if it didn't occasionally kill wild felids and canids. Nature's a bitch that way.

Me, I tend to think the risk is fairly low, but there's really not any reason to accept even that low risk. Bone meal is put into most commercial petfood; any nutritional value they would get out of the bones is met by the feed, and without the choking hazard. Likewise, I would not feed raw meat to the dogs. Yeah, they *probably* won't get sick from it, anymore than we would. But they might. It's more of a risk-benefit thing. They don't need to eat it, so why take the risk? A more common problem, according to my vet, is people giving inappropriately large bones to the dog, and the dogs getting their muzzles trapped; she was particularly opposed to the circular slices of cow femur, because the dogs naturally want to eat the inside first (all that yummy marrow), and pretty soon they're wedged.

Mind you, my mother-in-law had an interesting disposal method for chicken scraps out on the farm. She fed them to the chickens....

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 24 Jan 2011 #permalink

Calli, in the above mentioned story, Hozi was getting fed at night. Had it been during the day she would have been competing with the mother hen!

If she had to compete with my mother-in-law's hens, she might have had to flee for her life! Those birds could get *mean*.

Not-really-relevant story: the chickens were very happy eating chicken. In fact, sometimes the trick was making sure they didn't obtain chicken for themselves -- if one of the birds was being picked on, she'd get stressed and sick, and eventually if nobody interceded, the other hens would kill her. And then, if nobody removed the corpse, they'd eat it. I don't know how much of the carcass they'd eat, if left to their own devices; there was only one time they had the opportunity to actually dig into the carcass, because normally my MIL would remove and slaughter the harassed bird before it died (and consequently became unfit for the table).

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 24 Jan 2011 #permalink

It is a bit cockeyed to presume that cats can choke on or be injured by bones. I've heard cats crunching away merrily at bird carcasses, and seen them fail to drop dead as a result. Cooked - specifically, roasted, baked, or grilled - bones might be more problematic, due to brittleness, as pointed out upthread.

Cats seem to be somewhat resilient eaters, though picky. Neither of mine will eat "people" food, at least not consciously. I have no idea why. If it's served in a bowl, they won't touch it - but I've seen one of them licking away at fallen food on the floor, the same food she refuses when it's in a bowl.

I had two other cats that had distinctive palates. One preferred anything Italian, particularly with garlic; the other was fond of spicy Mexican-seasoned foods.

My fiancee had a cat that liked donuts. It didn't eat the whole donut; it would go up to a box of them and take one bite out of each.

I suspect everyone who's ever had a cat has similar stories about what they will and won't eat.

Even allowing for the weirdness of cats relative to humans and other domestic animals, cats are weird.

My Great Pyrenees dog (from a breed that was used to getting some oatmeal and milk from the shepherds but otherwise mostly fending for itself) dragged home a roadkill coyote and ate that, including the bones recently. We removed it several times (for aesthetic, rather than health reasons), but the ground is frozen and there was no where far enough away to fully remove it. Not dead yet. He had a deer femur too from a hunter's lost kill last year. I don't actually give him bones, but I don't see a really good way for a working farmdog not to eat bones.

The cats seem to do fine with small bones of creatures they catch, although I wonder if they really would, in nature, get many bones as large as chicken bones - at least not the kind of heavy chicken bones one gets from most meat breeds in the US. We have many chickens and six cats, and while the cats sometimes chase the chickens, it is just as likely that the hens will turn around and chase them back. They are big suckers, and not easily intimidated by cats. Most of what my cats get are small rodents, up to cottontail size.

As for feeding chickens to chicken - they are omnivores. The nice thing about a well balanced farm is there's simply 0 food waste - everything gets fed to something. The cats, dogs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, goats and sheep all pretty much cover the range of human scraps, yard wastes, garden wastes, etc..., and it all comes back 'round to feed the worms in the garden.


My pyr ate bones all the time. I didn't happen to give him chicken bones, but he would have inhaled them. I'd give him big giant bones that would last a long time. Which, for him, was a few days.

Sharon -- just like the old, traditional feeding of slop to the pigs. ;-) My MIL's hens were for eggs primarily, and she always made sure to save the shells after cooking eggs. The chickens would go crazy over those; there's probably instinct involved, either to recycle the lost calcium or to remove something that might attract predators to the nest, or maybe both.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 25 Jan 2011 #permalink

Cooked chicken bones and myth about the danger.

I saw a dog die from eating a cooked chicken thigh bone that splintered and pierced its stomach wall...I actually felt the bone under the skin. Terribly sad and scary when I thought about the bones I'd previously given to my own dog. It was a stray that had apparently gotten into someone's trash...or maybe someone's pet that was running no name, and there was no collar, but it came to our yard, suffering, and died before the vet could help it.

While some cats and dogs have eaten cooked bones with no ill effect, it's only luck. Are you willing to trust your pet's life to luck?

Never, ever, give a dog or cat Pop Rocks and Coke - it's assplode their stomach.


RYoung, what kind of bone was it, what shape, and how long? (based on your observations when it was removed from the dog.)

Thread necro! Greg, look up "INPACTION[sic] OF THE PHARYNX, LARYNX, AND ESOPHAGUS BY AVIAN BONES IN THE DOG AND CAT," by Rendano et al., in "Veterinary Radiology," doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8261.1988.tb01502.x

Also "Chronic oesophageal foreign body in a cat," by
Augusto et al, in "Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery," doi:10.1016/j.jfms.2004.12.006

I couldn't get past the paywall on the first one, but the second one has x-rays and photographs of the surgery.

Apparently the most common bone that causes trouble is actually the wishbone, because of its inconvenient shape.

By Anton Mates (not verified) on 02 Feb 2015 #permalink

Well, interesting, Anton, thanks for the links! Of course, vets would have some examples. But I wonder ... we can find dozens of papers on the same thing happening in humans, I assume, yet rarely does someone come sailing across the room to stop someone from eating a chicken!

Good blog post..
I am doing some research about this topic...
Cats and cooked chicken bones, and the danger of it...

Ive read some vetenerian that wrote that she never worries about her client s cats who has eaten chicken bones.
9 out of 10 never call back.

The 10th need some therapy for vomiting and diarréa..

I also read some vetenerian who had had 50 years of expertice, and he wrote a book of Myths..
He mentioned that you should give cooked chicken bones or bones Coocked to both dogs and cats, regulary...

Hmm. I dont know the science behind that.
I gave my loved 7 months old kitten chicken 3 days ago.
But i did not think, and defrosted in water first..

Then i used microwave 20 Seconds. *stupid*

Then i worried as fuck... But it has been 3 days and he has eaten and crapped like normal, soo far...

The "coocked" 20 sec, microwave, must have left his system by now!
But i am researching this subject, nontheless..
My english is not that great, but yeah...

Would be cool to get an good answer about this in cats.
If it is a myth, or not...

Or if it is very uncommon that a cat could die from stealing a Coocked chicken bone, etc...

I mean. Accidents happens. But i think 9 out of 10 cats who eats cooked chicken bones survives.
What do you experts think?

*googling some more*

So yeah..
My cat ate this 20 second microwave chicken last week.. After i defrosted in warm water first, but thought i could warm it up a little bit. Did not think.
But the Meat was raw.
Stupid to put it in a microwave. Hmm.

But he has eaten raw bones, 2 chicken wings since that now!
But today he threw up! First time.

But i saw two hairballs in there.
Either he ate too much food. He is 7 months now..
Eating as a horse!

But yeah, that chicken a week from now, should be out of his system right?...
No way it is caught in his intestines, right?

I am going to look after him. He ate after, and all...
Was like 2 days ago he had a raw chicken wing last time..
He just ate too much cat food perhaps...

But yeah.
A cat cant die from eating cooked/prepared chicken bones right?

I have not read one case of cats in this thread.
That makes me worry a bit less...

If he should throw up again tommorow, theoretically...
I will go and see a vet.
He eats, plays and craps good...

I hope it was hairballs that made him throw up!
Or too much food.

Also, here are two links in my research.……

One with 12 years of experience.

And one with 50 years.. He say people should give Coocked/prepared chicken bones to cats...

I dont know the science behind that thou.

Anyways. I hope my cat will be fine.
Was 6-7 days from the microwave chicken now.

His inner workings should be clear now.
If he should throw up again tomorrow, i will go see a vet..
Now time to schleep.!

bones of contention

"If your dog or cat loves bones, and rarely suffers their ills: fantastic. Select a bone size and shape that encourages chewing for longer, to maximise any dental benefit, and keep the weekly bone ration fairly stable.

"If your dog repeatedly suffers tummy upsets, even when gradually weaned on to small amounts of bone, or he just buries them and presents the festering knuckle to your bedside, the costs may outweigh the benefits and you should feel comforted in the knowledge that bones may not have helped his teeth anyway.

"If your pet has a weight problem, start to view a bone as a meal. See more under Killing with Kindness – managing obesity.

"If your pet refuses bones outright, don’t worry, they’re no dental or nutritional necessity, and if you’d like to persevere there are non-bone dental options.

"Feeding raw bones, in preference to cooked, seems the prudent thing to do, with some rule bending allowable. Only feed raw veal, lamb or chicken bones if you cant cope with risk; go ahead and feed cooked if you hate waste and like living on the edge."

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 14 Nov 2015 #permalink

Me again.
So yeah, i browsed this page on my mobile before. Now i discovered this is a good science blog!


But well, maybe is a myth then.
My english sucks, so pardon me.

But uhm.
This link:…

Can anyone answer me about a cats stomache acid.
Can it digest coocked chicken bones also then?

What i understand, people who write all over internet, and in my country to. DONT FEED COOCKED chicken bones,

Thats why i panicked a bit last time, when i after feeding my first BARF (Bones and raw food) diet too my loved kitten. (7 months old.)

But 20-30 seconds in a microwave, i dont know if it even changes the molecules in the bones structure! Might need a minute or two for that,

Also, i dont know the word "coocked" in my language.
If its, boiled chicken, or in oven, or microwave.


But yeah, i dont know if evolution has counted in brittle bones, in cats.
Mine chewed his first BARF chicken wing good.

So there can not be splinters.
I had this worst scenario in my head after that.

"I hope i didnt kill my cat".

Like, something stuck in his intestines, like punchured, blood , etc...
Would be horrible!

But i think my cat is fine. I guess, i hope he threw up hairballs yesterday, or that he had eaten too much,

Its good to try and research, when i am learning more about cats, when i own one.

I dont wanna kill my cat by accident, you know. ;)

So yeah,

is coocked chicken bones a myth or not?...
Does anybody know?...

Its kinda hard to know by science, perhaps.

Would be awesome if mythbusters did an episode on this subject! Way back...

But all the people all over internet that writes that this is a BAD THING. Coocked chicken bones.

Maybe they have a point, but i guess they think about that a chicken bone can splinter and cause like a "needle", in the stomache.

And that would be bad ofcourse. Then, they might be right ofcourse.

Anyways. Can a cat digest both coocked/prepared bones and raw bones?
Even if the molecules have changed in a coocked chicken bone?

is it dangerous, or safe, is it a myth?

If someone knows, please answer, if you got the time.

Dan, your English is quite good -- better than many Americans, actually.

"Coocked" is actually spelled "cooked". For English-speaking people, the word is very general, and does not denote a particular type or style of cooking. So you would have to depend on context to determine which style of cooking (broiled, baked, simmered, etc.), and what device was used (microwave, stove, etc.).

As far as digesting cooked versus raw bones, a cat would be able to digest either. Some types of cooking might be able to break down some of the protein matrix that makes up bone, but would likely require a meat tenderizer (i.e., protein enzymes) to really do much as far as that's concerned. An acid (e.g., vinegar) can de-mineralize bone -- rendering it flexible, and therefore harmless -- but almost certainly would be rejected by any cat !

My view on this issue is to not give chicken bones to cats. Yes, they can chew them up and digest them... However, chicken bones splinter easily, and that makes it too easy for a splinter to cause a puncture.

Yes, that probably does happen from time to time in nature (when animals, including cats, eat birds), but I don't want that to happen to any of MY cats. Even if it's just a poke in their mouth. It's not worth the risk, even if the risk is small. (And it probably is small.)

Cats, as a species, will certainly survive if freely given bones, but I want my specific cats to survive.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 14 Nov 2015 #permalink

Hi, Brainstorms.

Thanks for your reply!

Well, i can communicate somewhat. But yeah, i cant spell all the words correctly. ;)

Now i know. My bad. Hah. Coocked. I meant Cooked. Not "coocked". That sounded kinda funny... Actually.

But yeah, alright. I understand, its a broader word. Alright.

And thanks for that. Then i know. Good to know that a cat can digest either!

Also, that should work, to de-mineralize bones..
BUT, RAW bone, is completely safe!
Almost, completely safe.

To my knowledge. I would not had worry one second if i gave my cat raw bones. They are build to digest that. Evolution.

Cooked, bones. Maybe not soo much, as you write,

But yeah, i called in a animal hospital today and asked if it was safe. She said that i should not worry a bit.
Its been 7 days now, and its out of his system, and the reason he threw up yesterday was hairballs.

So i can breathe out now.

But i will NOT feed him cooked, prepared bones in the future!
But i will give him BARF, raw bones to chew on. Thats just healthy.

Thats just evolution. They can handle that. They learn.
Sure, you are right that it is a risk. It is a factor. But it is very very small, if it is raw bones.

And cats chew those splinters small. Like grain, i think is the word..
They learn.

If you mean by splinter, like a "needle", well. I think thats is very uncommon, actually.
Raw bones dont splinter like that. Only cooked bones... To my knowledge.

But i respect that you dont feed that to your cats! Ofcourse. All for good health.

I feed dry cat food, and wet cat food. And sometimes, raw food, like a raw chicken wing...

he loves chicken.
Anyways. Thanks for your answer, and i respect your decision ofcourse.

Hope your cats have a long healthy life. ;)

I love cats. (Now that i own one, its good to do some research about diffrent stuff.)
Peace out

Dan, I think your cat will be fine. You seem to be a conscientious owner.

We have 3 Siamese, Lilac-Chocolate mix litter mates, all females, who are spayed and have their claws. (I think de-clawing cats is equivalent to amputating the fingers of your children to "keep them out of trouble".)

They never go outdoors, and we never feed them human food or wet food. I'm told that wet food is bad for them, especially their teeth. It also makes them fat and human food turns them into beggars. So they are content to eat only dry food. (They reject human food; "it's not food!")

So, no bones and no wet food, and their teeth are good (8 years old now). But they throw up regularly, and have since they were kittens. We learned to limit the amount of dry food we give them each time...

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 14 Nov 2015 #permalink

FWIW, my vet recommended four measured meals a day, two wet and two dry.

Apparently there can be urinary issues associated with high ash and Mg intake, and these can be higher in dry food. Wet food also provides moisture. Some cats, like some humans, don't drink enough water.

Too much vomiting can be a symptom of problems, or it can irritate and cause problems with the digestive system over time.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 14 Nov 2015 #permalink

The breeder we bought them from warned us about their (inherited?) sensitive stomachs. She said to keep them on dry food, and recommended Iams.

They also drink regularly (but are not showing symptoms of diabetes, so that's not why).

We know they have hairballs (as this is sometimes what they cough up), but they won't take Petromalt.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 14 Nov 2015 #permalink

Yeah, I've had problems administering Petromalt. They will lick it off their paws, but some always seems to wind up on walls and ceilings.

Maybe train to gentle and regular brushing.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 14 Nov 2015 #permalink

We've had a lot more success with that. Two of the three now love to be brushed. The one (who takes a strong liking to me) doesn't like it. She will tolerate combing, though.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 14 Nov 2015 #permalink


Yeah, thanks.
I have learnt quite much already on cats, that i had no idea about before getting one.
And yeah, he will be fine. He is healthy.

I think i gave him too much food, or hairballs causing his one first trow up the other day. He has been chill and better, normal today. Eating and shitting good, etc.

De-clawing is inhuman, in my opinion.
Cats should be cats.

Anyways. Good luck with your cats. Too bad they trow up thou..
Hope it gets better.
Peace out