To Feed or Not to Feed: Can Dogs Eat Fish Bones?

Dog owners have for a long time told stories about their dogs getting fish bones stuck in their throats and needing an expensive surgery to remove them.

Many of the best dog owners are adventurous and let their dogs try anything from steaks to canned food to the latest commercially available treats. Is there a limit to anything that dogs can consume?

Well, cats and dogs will eat one potentially dangerous thing: fish. Can dogs eat fish bones? This can be a problem if they wolf down the fish whole or if there’s a fragment of a swallowed fish bone.

Are Fish Bones Attractive To Dogs?

Fish bones are attractive to dogs for the same reason that any other hard object is attractive to dogs: because they can chew on them.

Dogs would most likely chew on anything, from toys to furniture to tinfoil, but that doesn’t mean you should let them have their way with your furniture or your other things. Of course, fish bones are no different—they’re not a safe or healthy thing for you or your dog to ingest.

Dogs can and will eat fish bones if given the opportunity, but it’s important to keep those bones away from your dog and make sure they don’t get into trouble chewing on something they shouldn’t be chewing on.

The Danger of Dogs Eating Fish Bones

Is fish bad for dogs?

If you love your pooch and want to see him or her stay healthy, you might wonder if you should give them fish. And the answer is yes! Fish is actually very beneficial for dogs.

dog eating fish in the garden

It’s rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids—which can help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy—and it also contains vitamin D and iodine, which are important for their growth and development.

However, some caveats come with feeding your dog fish. While most people agree that it’s okay to feed dogs canned tuna (because it’s already cooked), some experts believe that raw fish is dangerous because it can cause botulism poisoning (see my post on can dogs eat raw fish). This is especially true if you’re giving them raw eggs or shellfish in addition to the raw meat itself.

While I recommend giving your dog some types of fish occasionally (we’re talking once per week here), make sure that it’s cooked thoroughly—which means steaming it or baking it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes—before feeding it to your pup.

But how about fish bones?

Dogs can eat fish bones, but there are some precautions you should take.

Fish bones are a good source of protein and other nutrients. However, they have sharp edges that can splinter and cut the mouth or throat of your dog. If your dog swallows these fragments, it could obstruct its intestines. This could lead to surgery and other complications.

As with any food, it’s always a good idea to check with your veterinarian before feeding your dog a fish bone.

The dangers of dogs eating fish bones include:

Dental Issues

Dogs are not built to chew on hard objects like bones, and the chewing action can damage their teeth over time. This can lead to dental disease, which may require expensive treatment such as tooth extractions or root canal therapy.

Organ Perforation

The bones in fish can break or splinter as they’re eaten and lodge in the dog’s intestines. This can cause an obstruction and/or perforation of the organ. Dogs will eat almost anything, including things that are dangerous for them.

If you have a dog that likes to eat everything—including bones—it’s important to keep them away from natural bones like those from fish.

Throat Blockage

If you’re not careful about how much your dog eats and how quickly he eats it, you could end up in a situation where his throat becomes blocked, and he starts to choke.

brown dog eating food on his bowl

This is why it’s so important to make sure that you know what kind of fish bones you have on hand—if they’re big enough to cause problems in your dog’s throat, don’t let him eat them.

Another danger associated with dogs eating fish bones is bone splinters. If your dog is gnawing on a bone and manages to break off some small pieces, these pieces can get stuck in his mouth or throat as well.

You’ll need to watch out for this kind of problem, especially if your dog is young or doesn’t have all his adult teeth yet (this happens when dogs are around two years old).

Intestinal Obstructions

It’s important to make sure that the bones are cooked and soft before feeding them to your dog. If you feed your dog uncooked fish bones or raw fish, they may become lodged in their throat or digestive tract and cause an obstruction.

Unlike humans, dogs can’t chew their food well. They also have a different digestive system than humans, making it hard to digest bones from a fish. This can cause serious problems in your dog’s digestive tract, including blockages that could result in surgery or even death.

Are There Fish Bones That Dogs Can Safely Eat?

Dogs can eat fish bones, with some caveats.

The biggest problem with feeding dogs fish bones is that they can splinter and cause choking or intestinal blockage. This is especially true of large, flat bones like those from a salmon or trout.

But some types of fish are safe for dogs to eat, including sardines and anchovies. These tiny fish have very soft bones that break easily and digest quickly, so there’s little risk of splintering or causing blockages.

In general, you should avoid feeding your dog larger fish like cod, salmon, or tuna because the bones can splinter and cause problems in their digestive tract. Can dogs eat tilapia? The meat, yes, but tilapia has large bones that could potentially cause your pup some problems later on.

Can dogs eat seafood? Dogs can eat seafood, but you should always check the ingredients list to ensure the seafood is fresh and not spoiled.

Seafood can be a great source of protein for your dog, but it can also contain mercury and other toxins. If you’re going to give your dog seafood as a treat, make sure you don’t give them too much, as they’re prone to getting sick from too much mercury.


It’s always best to err on the side of caution: If you want to feed your dog any fish containing bones, it’s best to use canned varieties rather than raw meat because this will remove any chance of splinters or other hazards.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has a Fish Bone Lodged in His Throat?

If your dog has a fish bone lodged in his throat, you’ll probably know it. He’ll be gagging, coughing, and maybe even throwing up. The good news is that once the bone is out, he’ll be fine—but it’s important to get him to an emergency vet as soon as possible.

What To Do If Your Dog Ate a Fish Bone?

If you think your dog may have swallowed a fish bone, keep him calm. The first step is to determine whether your dog has actually swallowed a fish bone.

If you’re not sure, check in his mouth. Look for a small piece of bone or a lump that could be lodged there. If you find something that looks like it might be a bone, take your dog to the vet right away.

How To Get a Fish Bone Out of Your Dog’s Mouth or Throat

If your dog is like mine, they love to eat fish, and they’ll find a way to get a fish bone stuck in their mouth or throat.

I’ve been there, and it’s no fun, but you can take some simple steps to help your pup get that bone out of its mouth or throat safely and easily.

First, make sure that you have a pair of tweezers on hand in case the bone is still in one piece. If it’s not, then you should still be able to use these methods with a little practice.

Second, make sure your dog is calm and quiet before proceeding so you can get them into a stable position without being wiggled around too much by its whimpering or barking.

Thirdly, try to grab onto the end of the bone with one hand while using the other to gently pull down on your dog’s lower jaw until he opens his mouth wide enough for you to grab hold of whatever part of the fish skeleton remains inside him (if any). Then slip those tweezers into his mouth and carefully remove what’s left of his dinner between those sharp puppy teeth!

Plenty of Fish: Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Okay for Puppies To Eat Fish Bones?

They can, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Please be very careful if you feed your pup a dish containing fish bones. Puppies are typically just as eager to eat fish bones as they’re to eat any other kind of food.

fresh fish

However, dogs need to be trained to chew things properly, and eating the wrong type of bone can cause dental issues in your pup. You should always supervise your dog when he eats bones from any source.

If you’re going to let your puppy eat fish, make sure that it’s a small one that’s been cooked thoroughly, and don’t leave it unattended. Even if it looks like your dog is chewing on something else entirely, there’s a good chance he’ll get some fishbone stuck between her teeth.

Can Canines Consume Fish Heads?

Dogs can eat fish heads, though it’s not recommended.

Fish are typically high in protein and contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your dog’s coat and skin. However, they also tend to have lots of bones, which can be a choking hazard for your dog if they aren’t broken down enough.

The bones in fish heads are particularly hard for dogs to break down because they’re so small and thin. While some dogs might be able to break these bones down on their own, most will require help from you.

If you do decide to feed your dog fish heads, make sure you cut the head into pieces before giving it to them so that you can ensure none of the bones remain whole when you feed them to your canine companion.

Can My Dog Die From Eating Fish Bones?

The short answer is NO. If your dog has a normally functioning digestive system, it will be fine to eat some fish bones while out hunting for their next meal.

The long answer is that it depends on what kind of fish it is and how big those fish are.

Fish with smaller bones are less likely to cause any problems, but larger ones like salmon or mackerel can cause issues in your dog’s digestive tract. But even if you feed him these kinds of fish every day for years and years, he’ll still be okay as long as there aren’t any other problems in his system (like heart disease).


As a dog owner, I take full responsibility for taking good care of my pet’s health and safety. Do your research and familiarize yourself with the information above, as well as your particular dog’s eating habits and if possible, consult your veterinarian. These tips can help keep your dog safe while enjoying fish treats!

For most dogs, fish bones are fine and will pass through their bodies without any problems. I certainly wouldn’t recommend feeding dogs just any type of fish regularly due to the amount of mercury and other toxins in some fish.

While fish bones may not hurt dogs, they could prove quite dangerous. For this reason, you and your dog must understand the risks that come with feeding him fish and the basics for safely feeding your dog.

For more posts on curious questions that readers send in on what their dogs could eat, check out my articles on whether dogs can eat seaweed and have goldfish crackers.

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

Leave a Comment