My Dog Ate Rib Bones: What Should I Do Now?

Dogs have their own adorable ways to pressure you into giving them food from your plate.

And when it comes to meat and bones, one might be tempted to share some goodies with their pooch. But it could be a mistake because not all bones are safe for dogs.

For example, if your dog ate rib bones, you should keep an eye on them looking for any sign of discomfort.

Rib bones are not meant for dog consumption and your pouch might be at risk of developing serious infections or diseases that, if left untreated, may lead to further complications.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Rib Bones?

If you catch your dogs eating rib bones, the first thing you should do is take the bones away from them.

Open their mouth, check if you can see the bone in their throat, and if it’s safe, try to remove all remaining pieces of bones from the area.

This will give you an estimate of how big of a piece your dog swallowed.

After that, if your dog isn’t choking or gagging, keep an eye on them for the following hours to see if they show any sign of discomfort.

The acids in a dog’s stomach are very strong and should be able to digest the bone, but it’s not certain.

Sign Of Discomfort To Look Out For

These are the symptoms of bad ingestion that you should look out for:

  • Vomiting: It’s dangerous especially with bones because the bone might get stuck in your dog’s throat as it comes up and could cause suffocation;
  • Abdominal pain: Try touching your dog’s belly and see if they react painfully. It might mean the bone is stuck somewhere in their bowel;
  • Blood: Finding traces of blood in the vomit or stools (dark brown/black stools) is a very bad sign. Your dog will need to be treated immediately;
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea or constipation are signs of a gastrointestinal blockage. The bone is stuck in the intestine and nothing manages to pass except for liquids;
  • Lack of appetite: This is another sign of a blockage, but it could also be a sign of ongoing infections. Check your dog’s temperature because infections usually cause a fever;
  • Lethargy: A lethargic dog will hardly respond to any stimulus that they would usually find exciting. They won’t eat, play, or even simply react the way they normally do and will appear incredibly tired and sleepy at all times. This may be due to gastrointestinal problems, inflammations, or infections.

If one or more of these symptoms show up, bring your dog to the veterinarian immediately.

They will need to be examined because the bone is probably stuck somewhere and is causing trouble.

Pork rib bones

Among rib bones, pork rib bones are particularly dangerous because pork contains a lot of fats, which is going to be heavy on your dog’s pancreas.

If your dog ate a pork rib bone, they will most likely need to be medically examined to exclude any possibility of pancreatitis, which is the inflammation of the pancreas due to a diet full of fats.

Pork, in general, is not bad for dogs but should be given to them rarely because it’s about 80% proteins and 20% fats, and feeding your dog so much fat regularly is going to cause great damage in the long term.

Cooked bones

The big issue with rib bones is that they’re usually cooked when your dog gets its paws on them.

It’s hard to find raw rib bones for dogs at the butcher shop or at the supermarket, the same way you would with ham bones.

Dogs should never eat cooked bones, because a bone that has been cooked will harden and splinter very easily, and bone fragments are incredibly dangerous for your dog.

What Happens If A Dog Swallows Rib Bones?

When a dog swallows a rib bone they will be at risk of severe complications.

But even dogs that only chew on rib bones without any intention to eat them are at risk of swallowing some small pieces that may turn fatal.

In fact, if your dog ate a cooked rib bone, they’re immediately at risk of developing internal damage in different areas and organs, so the situation shouldn’t be underestimated.

Mouth damage

The first victim of a splintering bone will be your dog’s mouth.

Bone shards can provoke a great deal of damage to your dog’s tongue, cheeks, throat, and even to your dog’s teeth because a cooked bone is much harder than a raw one.

dog eating bone

With mouth wounds, you usually have a lot of bleeding, which is a messy situation for you and a very painful one for your pet that won’t be able to eat or swallow properly.

This issue will more often than not require medical assistance.

In the case of teeth damage, you might need a dentist veterinarian and it might turn into a quite long and expensive procedure.

Gastrointestinal blockage

Some bones might be small enough for your dog to swallow, but big enough to cause a blockage in their gastrointestinal apparatus.

This is unfortunately very common with bad ingestions and especially with cooked bones, while it may be more unusual with raw bones since they’re more flexible.

A blockage in the stomach or intestines means your dog won’t be able to eat or poop properly.

It will cause them great discomfort and you might notice your dog lying on their back or reacting aggressively or painfully when you touch their belly.

A gastrointestinal blockage will probably require an endoscopy to remove the bone from the stomach, or a full medical surgery if the bone is stuck in the intestines.


Peritonitis is an inflammation of the thin membrane of the abdominal cavity and is extremely dangerous because it can quickly lead to death.

When a pointy item (a splintered bone in this case) ends up in your dog’s stomach, there’s a chance it might poke holes in the digestive tract and cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

If left untreated, a bacterial infection will cause peritonitis and proceed to affect other organs, causing their eventual collapse.

A dog affected by peritonitis might look completely fine one moment and appear very sick all of a sudden, so prevention is fundamental in this case: if you know your dog ate spare rib bones from your table, call your veterinarian immediately.

Safe alternatives to rib bones for dogs.

You shouldn’t give rib bones to your dog, but if your dog has chewing tendencies or simply loves bones, there are a few safer alternatives you can educate them with.

Most dogs are big chewers and that’s not a bad thing per se.

Chewing actually helps dogs developing their jaw muscles and it’s also healthy for their teeth, as long as it’s the right type of bone.

It’s also a form of entertainment, not to mention that raw meat and bones actually contain good nutrients for your dog.

If you follow the guidelines given by your veterinarian, you will be able to feed bones safely to your pet.

Raw ham bones

Feeding your dog raw ham bones might be a good alternative to the more dangerous rib bones.

Raw ham bones are usually very big and are also sold separately, so you can find high-quality raw ham bones specifically for your dog at your local butcher shop.

Raw bones should only be fed after a meal, so your dog will less likely feel compelled to eat the bone.

You should also put a time limit to your dog’s playtime with the bone and train them so that they know they will only get the bone threat if they don’t steal from the table.

Chew toys.

Dog toys like Nylabones are designed specifically to answer your dog’s chewing needs.

It’s important to choose the right Nylabone for the size and jaw strength of your dog because these toys are made from nylon, which is a synthetic material that shouldn’t be swallowed or eaten, as it won’t be digested.

There are edible and non-edible Nylabones.

The first is safe for your dog to eat, but shouldn’t be fed to them regularly because they should not replace actual food, while the latter is just for playtime.

Whether you choose to start your dog to a raw bone diet or to Nylabones, make sure to discuss your option with the veterinarian.

Can dogs eat rib bones?

No, dogs shouldn’t eat rib bones because eating rib bones usually means eating cooked bones, which are very dangerous for your dog as they could splinter and hurt their insides or cause a blockage that might compromise their health.

Although the ingestion of rib bones is not always fatal, if you don’t want to risk an expensive medical bill or worse, losing your dog, the best preventive method is also the easiest one: keep rib bones away from your dog.

Your dog should not have access to the table after you’ve eaten and should not be fed leftovers.

If your dog has extreme cravings or chewing tendencies, consider safe alternatives to rib bones or improving their diet with the help of a professional so they won’t be craving your food as much.

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