If you’re here, chances are your dog has chewed a fair amount of wood sticks.
Dogs just look so enthralled and focused while chewing a stick, as if that stick holds a treasure they might forage in the next bite.
But what’s the real reason dogs chew on wood sticks?
And should you let your dog chew on sticks?
By Mila Bander.
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Top Reasons Why Dogs Chew on Wood and Wood Sticks
If you’re in a hurry, here are the 4 main reasons why dogs chew on wood:
- They’re natural hunters
- They’re curious
- When puppies, their teeth start growing causing discomfort
- It might be a nutritional deficiency or illness.
The best solution is to give them proper chewing toys.
The Real Reason Dogs Chew On Wood Sticks
Chewing on items in general is normal dog behavior.
Most dogs at their core are hunters and foragers.
Despite their domestication, dogs have a natural desire to chew on wood sticks and other objects.
Dogs also love the feeling of smelling, sniffing around, running, chasing and grabbing.
All of these things are involved in “hunting” for a good wood stick, and chewing the stick is their reward.
When a dog chews on a wood stick, twig or big branch, it feels like a natural toy or treasure they just found.
Dogs love wood sticks because it feels like a chew toy or something special they found all by themselves, as hunters, by using their skills.
Why Do Dogs Chew on Wood? Is It a Nutritional Deficiency?
When a dog is seriously ill, he may develop a craving for wood, and even other objects.
This condition is called ‘Pica’; Pica is a disorder in which dogs crave and consume non-food objects.
In dogs, intestinal parasites are one of the most common causes of pica.
Your dog might lose weight while simultaneously seeking to chew on wood and other objects.
Some dogs will only eat one type of object (and that can be wood), but others may consume a wide range of things.
Pica can be harmful to a dog’s health because what they ingest may be poisonous, interrupt their regular digestive process, or get trapped in their intestinal track, requiring medical procedures and even surgery.
To get rid of this problem, your dog may need to be dewormed.
A dog with insufficient nutrition will begin to eat foods it cannot digest in order to find a source of nutrients.
How to Stop a Dog Chewing Wood Furniture?
Having a dog destroy your furniture can be disheartening and frustrating.
It’s quite common for dogs to chew on and even destroy furniture such as couches, chairs, not to mention cables, shoes, and wood furniture in general.
So how to stop a dog chewing on wood furniture (and others)?
Give Them Plenty of Toys
Both pups and adult dogs should have a selection of durable chew toys that are appropriate and appealing to them.
However, simply supplying proper chewing materials might be insufficient to avoid inappropriate chewing; dogs need to be taught what is OK to chew and what is not, in a gentle but firm way.
Limit Access to Your House
Many people have dogs that are not allowed in certain rooms, or live outside, in the backyard, in their own (safe) space.
Back in the day, it was normal to care for dogs in this way, leaving them outside.
While it can be difficult to do so if you feel attached to your dog, it will help you protect your furniture, especially if your dog is especially disobedient.
It can also help protect your children, and anyone who suffers from allergies.
Get professional help
There are professionals working in pet-behavior that can help with a variety of behavioral problems in a variety of ways.
- Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDTs)
- Veterinary Behaviorists
- Group Classes
- Private Sessions
- Day Training & Board-and-Train
It’s important to train your dog to respect you, your home, and other people too.
Why Puppies Chew on Wood Sticks
Dogs are also naturally curious and investigative. It’s natural for a dog to explore their environment by chewing on things, if it smells safe.
But despite it being the main reason why dogs chew on wood sticks, it’s not the only one.
As puppies grow and develop, their teeth start to sprout.
Puppies might chew on wood sticks to help alleviate their discomfort and pain while their teeth grow. Yeah, just like human babies!
When Do Puppies Stop Chewing Everything? (OMG! Do They Ever Stop?!)
Puppies, like human infants, go through a phase in which they lose their baby teeth and feel discomfort when their adult teeth emerge.
This period of increased chewing usually lasts six months. Phew!
Some recommend feeding puppies ice cubes, frozen dog toys, or frozen wet washcloths to chew on to help alleviate teething pain.
Although puppies need chewing, gentle training can teach your dog to limit his chewing to acceptable objects, such as his own toys.
To assist your dog in learning the difference between what he should and should not chew, avoid confusing the dog by offering old shoes and abandoned cushions.
It is unreasonable to expect your dog to understand that some shoes are safe to chew on, while others are not.
Dogs Might Chew on Wood for Attention
It’s no secret dogs require a lot of attention – they need daily exercise and playing, after all, most dogs were made to work on huge spaces either hunting or herding.
When dogs are bored, they can start chewing things, such as a wood stick.
Especially if they notice you give them more attention for it – either negative or positive attention; it’s all attention anyways!
Dogs need attention and playing regularly with their owners.
Chewing on wood for a dog is comparable to watching TV for humans.
It might not be their first option of fun, but it distracts and engages them while they wait for the time to go for a walk.
Should You Let Your Dog Chew On Wood Sticks?
Now that you learned why dogs chew on wood sticks, you might be wondering if you should allow your dog to chew on wood sticks.
While it’s enchanting to see a dog all happy and proud with the wood stick they found all by themselves, many veterinarians would not recommend allowing your dogs to chew on wood sticks.
Letting Dogs Play With Wood Sticks is Risky
Some dogs enjoy simply picking up sticks and carrying them around, other dogs like to destroy wood sticks.
But no matter how your canine friend enjoys playing with sticks, there are risks involved.
The same way children shouldn’t run around with scissors in their hands, dogs shouldn’t simply run around with wood sticks in their mouths while unsupervised, or at all.
Wood sticks are all different from one another, and one of them might be splintering more than the other.
The problem is, your dog might not be aware of that difference.
Your Dog Might Be Hurt from Playing with Wood Sticks
Dogs might get too excited about the stick and not pay full attention to where they’re going and how they’re playing.
They can also not adapt to playing with a particularly pointy stick, and this can end up causing accidents.
And that’s not the only issue with dogs chewing on wood sticks.
Another red flag about letting your adult dogs or puppies chew on wood sticks is that these sticks can damage or wear out their teeth and the soft tissues in their mouth.
Dogs can’t tell you they’re in pain, or if something feels wrong.
They are usually so upbeat; owners might not realize their teeth are hurt after chewing on wood sticks.
How to Check if Your Dog is Hurt from Playing with Wood Sticks
It’s important to pay attention to the subtle signs and to check your dog’s mouth for splinters that might be stuck in there before they swallow it.
Some subtle signs a dog’s mouth is hurt are:
- They are uninterested in playing like they used to,
- they might hide,
- drop food,
- chew only or mostly on one side of the mouth,
- develop strange odors coming from the mouth.
If a dog swallows splinters or bigger pieces of wood, they could damage the dog’s stomach.
There’s also the risk of ingesting bacteria.
Vets from Mill Creek Animal Hospital share that many dogs were brought to them with a “foul odour” coming from their mouths.
“Many of these sticks had been there for many days and were starting to rot causing the foul odour.”
The Solution is Simple
The best thing to do is to give your good boys and good girls durable toys that are also safe to chew away!