My dog ate a rib bone – Should I Be Worried?

While it’s NOT a cause for panic if your dog ate spare rib bones… it CAN be a cause for concern.

This article will tell you what you need to do next, if anything.

So, to answer the question:

Should you worry if your dog eating a rib bone? It is not safe for dogs to eat rib bones; however, doing so won’t always hurt your dog. Therefore, you will need to monitor your dog for digestive and other symptoms to ensure no apparent problems.

To ensure your dog isn’t experiencing any ill effects from eating rib bones, you should be aware of some of the signs and symptoms of problems ahead.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Rib Bones?

If your dog ate spare rib bones, it could result in any number of serious injuries. Therefore, you will need to proceed with the following steps while monitoring your dog for any adverse reactions.

1. Check Your Dogs Mouth and Throat

Check your dog’s mouth and throat. Remove any bone remnants you find. Also, check for bone splinters in your dog’s tongue and gums.

2. Monitor Your Dog for Any of the Following Signs

If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms after your dog swallowed rib bone, take your dog to the vet to be examined for internal blockages, infections, or other problems.

  • Gagging or displaying other respiratory issues.
  • Whimpering or any signs of discomfort when you touch his or her stomach.
  • Vomiting.
  • Lethargy.
  • Refusal to eat.
  • Having a hard time going to the bathroom, or you notice a bloody stool or mucus.
  • Excessive thirst.

Other things you should watch for are constant lip licking, pacing, or the inability to sit comfortably.

Rib bones are dangerous for dogs, especially cooked bones. Cooked bones are brittle, jagged, and can splinter when chewed, which could cause serious internal damage both before and after being swallowed.

3. Call Your Veterinarian

Even if your dog appears to be OK after eating a rib bone, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any bones or splinters lodged in the gastrointestinal tract. That’s why we recommend you be proactive and take your dog to the vet to address any issues before they get worse.

How Long Will It Take for my Dog to Pass a Rib Bone?

There are too many factors to give you a definitive answer about how long it will take for your dog to pass a rib bone. It will depend on how big the bone fragments were, whether they were raw bones or cooked bones, the size of your dog, etc. The general recommendation is to check your dog’s stool daily, and if you don’t see any signs of the bone fragments within 72 hours, you should probably make a trip to the vet.

Will a Rib Bone Dissolve in My Dog’s Stomach on Its Own?

The acid in a dog’s stomach is powerful; therefore, in many cases, your dog should be able to digest the rib bone fragments. However, that’s not always the case. Some pieces of the bone might digest, and others might not. Therefore, you will have to monitor your dog’s stool to see if the bones pass.

If you notice mucus or blood, you will know there is a problem. Blood and mucus indicate inflammation in your dog’s large intestine. And if you see black or tarry looking stools, this is an indication that your dog has bleeding in his or her small intestine or stomach, in which case you should take your dog to the vet immediately.

What Can I Do to Help My Dog Pass a Rib Bone?

If your dog swallowed rib bone, give him or her a piece of bread or a bulky dry dog food meal to help pass the bone. Bulky food will help surround the bone and help push the bone fragments through your dog’s digestive system and out of the body. Additionally, food helps activate the digestive acids, which, in turn, will help soften the bones so they can pass more easily.

How to train your dog not to eat rib bones

When it comes to dogs eating things they’re not supposed to, basic obedience training can come in handy. Since puppyhood, a dog should be trained to obey commands such as “drop it,” “no,” and “stay” on the first call. 

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Such commands can potentially save a dog’s life if they have something dangerous in their mouth other than rib bones. This includes items such as razors, rocks, and toxic food items like chocolate. Your commands can also stop them in their tracks when they’re about to jump onto a road or get into any other dangerous situation.

To obedience train your dog, start by giving basic commands like “stop” and “drop” in a clear and firm voice whenever they grab something they’re not supposed to. Remember not to shout, as this can provoke your dog to swallow the object out of fear instead. If your dog obeys your command, give them a treat or verbal praises. Both are proven to be highly effective in appreciating your dog and will make them realize that obeying you will result in a reward. 

Even if your dog doesn’t obey you, never punish or scold them. This will only provoke aggression and make them harder to train. If your dog is carrying something dangerous in its mouth, you could try to pull it out or make your dog let go gently.

Safer chewing alternative to rib bones

Some dogs tend to have a knack for chewing. This is especially common in puppies as their growing teeth and painful gums create a tingling sensation that they satiate by chewing. While chewing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can go out of hand when your dog starts using your furniture, shoes, rib bones, and other precious or dangerous stuff for this purpose. 

To help your dog safely satisfy their chewing urges, you can use the following alternatives that are both healthier and safer for your pup compared to rib bones:

1. Chewing toys

There are numerous dog-safe chewing toys available in various shapes, sizes, textures, and even flavors for dogs. Most of these are made from special plastics and nylons that are non-toxic and non-piercing and thus are completely safe for dogs. 

You can also find chewing toys that are flavored and taste like chicken or other yummy fruits. These toys create a special appeal to dogs and discourage them from gnawing on cooked rib bones and other dangerous objects.

There are many different sizes and shapes of chewing toys you can choose from depending on your dog’s age and size. Puppy chewing toys are usually smaller in size and have nubs that gently massage their sore gums. Adult dog chewing toys are larger and contain soft scrubbing bristles that brush your dog’s teeth as they chew.

2. Raw bones

Although cooked bones can splinter and harm your dog, raw bones are completely safe and carry significant benefits that are hard to find elsewhere. They act as natural toothbrushes for dogs and gently remove tartar from their teeth. This leads to better dental hygiene, fresher breath, and reduced chances of developing gum diseases.

Raw bones are also an important part of a canine’s diet. They contain calcium, phosphorus, and multiple minerals that are crucial for dogs. Most bones also carry bone marrow and cartilage, which are full of micronutrients that contribute to your dog’s overall well-being, such as selenium, copper, glucosamine, and chondroitin. 

Because the compulsion to chew bones in dogs is instinctual, allowing them to consume raw bones also has numerous positive mental effects on them. A few of those effects include reduced anxiety and dopamine release, both of which make your dog happier and more satisfied. 

But even with raw bones, there are some hazards you need to be aware of. Never buy one that’s too big or small for your dog’s mouth. They can break their teeth if the bone is too big or choke on a small piece if it’s too small. Aside from that, remember not to feed them a raw bone more than once or twice a week. Overeating bones can lead to diarrhea and digestive upsets.


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions people have about dogs eating rib or other types of bones.

Are Any Bones Safe for My Dog to Eat?

Raw and cooked pork bones tend to splinter and crack. Therefore, they have more chance of damaging the intestines, presenting a choking hazard, or creating an intestinal blockage. However, most other raw bones such as chicken, beef, turkey, or lamb are soft enough to eat and digest. However, you should never give your dog any type of cooked bones.

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How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Internal Bleeding?

The most common signs of internal bleeding in dogs are pale gums, weakness, trouble breathing, a distended abdomen, or even collapse. Less common signs are vomiting, not eating, and lethargy.

Are Animal Bones Good for My Dog?

Chewing is a natural and instinctive behavior for dogs. Bones provide mental stimulation for your dog as well as helping to keep your dog’s teeth clean. Just remember never give your dog cooked bones, pork bones, or rib bones.

How Do I Choose the Right Bone for My Dog?

Ensure any bone you choose is larger than your dog’s mouth to prevent them from swallowing the bone whole. The best raw bones for dogs are cow and bison bones. Ideally, any bone you choose for your dog should be larger than your dog’s snout to reduce the chance of him or her breaking off chunks that could cause problems.

Can Raw Bones Cause My Dog to Get Sick?

Is it possible for raw bones to make my dog sick? Raw bones can pass along food-borne diseases such as salmonella or E. coli. Therefore, if you give your dog a raw bone, you should throw it away or refrigerate it after about 30 minutes or so.

How Can I Safely Give My Dog a Bone?

When shopping for commercially available dog bones, look for those that say they are easily digestible or are non-edible chew bones. And always make sure the bone is larger than your dog’s mouth.

When Is the Best Time to Give My Dog a Bone?

You can give your dog a bone just about any time, but the best time to give your dog a bone is after he or she has already eaten. When full, your dog is less likely to chew the bone so vigorously that he or she ends up swallowing chunks of that bone. A full dog will be more likely to enjoy the mental stimulation of chewing on that bone without feeling a hunger need to chew on it ravenously.

Can You Freeze Raw Bones?

You should always know the origin of the bones you give your dog. The best resource for raw dog bones is a butcher that has locally sourced meat. If you want to stock up on raw bones, you can buy them in bulk from your butcher then store them in your freezer.

Are Raw Bones Better Than Commercially Processed Bones for Dogs?

Yes, all-natural raw bones are better for your dog than highly processed dog bones that contain loads of chemicals and preservatives. Whole, raw, unprocessed bones work with your dog’s body as they are rich in nutrients, aid in digestion, and help with dental care as well.

What Are Raw Recreational Bones?

Raw recreational bones are uncooked raw bones that usually have marrow in them. The marrow is the fatty substance inside the cavity of a bone. These bones include femurs, knuckles, necks, ribs, tails, hips, and feet from cows or buffalo.

The Bottom Line

Raw bones contain many nutrients vital to a dog’s health, including its skin and coat. Bones contain calcium, phosphorous, and trace minerals. So, giving your dog raw bones is a good idea as long as those bones are not cooked and that you supervise your dog while he or she is enjoying them. And remember, any bone could potentially be dangerous and cause intestinal obstruction or other problems.


This article is for informational purposes only and is not a diagnosis. All health advice and questions should be in consultation with your veterinarian for a professional diagnosis based on your dog’s specific situation.

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Kevin Myers

Kevin Myers is a passionate animal lover, pet enthusiast, and dedicated writer. With over a decade of experience as a professional pet blogger, Kevin has gained a wealth of knowledge and insights into the world of pet care. He firmly believes that every animal deserves a loving and nurturing home, which has driven him to adopt and foster numerous pets throughout the years.

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