A dog with a concerned expression looking at fish bones, indicating it's toxic for dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Bones?

No, dogs should not eat fish bones. Fish bones can be very dangerous for your furry friend. They are small, brittle, and can easily splinter, causing choking, intestinal blockage, or internal damage. This kind of risk is not worth it, considering there are so many safer alternatives available.

A photo of Stefan Stumpfl, the co-author of this article.

By Stefan Stumpfl, in collaboration with Dr. Ali Raza.

Updated on Jul 5, 2024

Did You Know?

Fish bones can splinter easily and cause severe damage to a dog's mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines.

Fish Bones



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Allergic Risk


Why Are Fish Bones Bad for Dogs?

Fish bones are hazardous because they can break into sharp fragments that can lodge in your dog's mouth, throat, or gastrointestinal tract. They can cause severe internal injury or blockage, leading to expensive vet bills and prolonged discomfort for your pet. Even if the bones are cooked, they're still brittle and dangerous.

How Many Fish Bones Can Dogs Eat?

Ideally, none. Even a single fish bone can pose a risk. It only takes one small, jagged edge to cause serious harm. Therefore, it's best to avoid giving your dog any fish that hasn't been thoroughly deboned and prepared specifically for canine consumption.

Similar Toxic Products

Be wary of these similar items that can pose similar risks:

  • Chicken Bones: Like fish bones, they can splinter and cause internal damage.
  • Pork Bones: These can also splinter and lead to choking or internal injury.
  • Turkey Bones: Another brittle bone that can break apart inside your dog's digestive system.
  • Rib Bones: They may seem meaty, but they can splinter just as easily as other bones.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Fish Bones?

First and foremost, stay calm. Check your dog's mouth and throat to see if the bone is lodged somewhere accessible. If it is, and you feel confident, remove it carefully. Otherwise, call your vet immediately. Avoid inducing vomiting unless directed by a professional, as this could cause the bone to lodge even deeper.

Signs and Symptoms of Fish Bone Poisoning in Dogs?

Look out for these symptoms, which could indicate a problem:

  • Coughing or Gagging
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Pawing at the Mouth
  • Lethargy or Distress
  • Blood in Saliva or Stool

How Long After Eating Fish Bones Will a Dog Get Sick?

Symptoms can appear almost immediately depending on where the bone is lodged. Be vigilant for the first few hours after ingestion.

When to Contact Your Vet for Advice?

Contact your vet immediately if you notice any symptoms of distress such as coughing, drooling, or pawing at the mouth.

How to Treat Fish Bone Poisoning in Dogs?

The vet might perform an X-ray or use an endoscope to determine the bone's location. If surgery is required to remove the bone, your dog may need to stay at the clinic for a while. Follow-up care will likely involve monitoring and medication to prevent infection or further complications.

The costs for such treatments can add up quickly, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. This is where having pet insurance can be a lifesaver, covering a significant portion of the treatment costs and giving you peace of mind.

Healthy Alternatives

Here are some safe and tasty alternatives to fish bones:

  • Boneless Fish Fillets: Cooked and deboned, providing protein without the risks.
  • Carrots: Crunchy and nutritious, great for dental health.
  • Apples: Remove the seeds and core for a sweet and safe snack.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Cooked and mashed, easy to digest and full of vitamins.
  • Peanut Butter: A favorite for many dogs, just make sure it doesn't contain xylitol.


Fish bones are a definite no-go for dogs due to the significant risk they pose. Always ensure any fish you feed your dog is boneless and prepared correctly. When in doubt, consult your vet to make sure you're giving your dog the best and safest treats possible. Keeping your furry friend healthy and happy should always be the top priority.