Why Do Dogs Eat Sticks?

Dogs are curious creatures that can find entertainment in anything, from chasing squirrels to digging holes in the backyard.

One of the most common behaviors that dog owners may witness is their furry friend’s inclination to chew and eat sticks.

While it may seem like a harmless activity, it can pose some serious health risks to dogs.

But why do dogs eat sticks in the first place?

Is it just a fun pastime or a sign of an underlying issue?

In this article, we will explore the reasons why do dogs eat sticks and what dog owners can do to prevent their pets from munching on sticks.

Why Do Dogs Eat Sticks? – The Reasons

While it may seem strange and potentially dangerous for a dog to eat sticks, it is expected.

Let’s have a deeper look into the reasons why dogs eat sticks.

The Instinct To Chew

Dogs have an instinctive drive to chew, so sticks may appeal to them.

This behavior is likely rooted in their wild animal ancestors and can be seen when they chew on bones or items that aren’t food.

Sticks provide entertainment and distraction since they have an intriguing texture, smell, and look.

They also provide an outlet for energy as chewing gives a good workout for the jaw muscles, making them feel relaxed and fulfilled afterward.

Nutritional Deficiencies Or Hunger

Nutritional deficiencies or hunger are possible explanations for why dogs may eat sticks.

In the wild, a pup’s ancestors may have had little access to adequate nutrition and were likely hungry often.

Certain behaviors, like eating sticks, may have become part of their survival skillset as they searched for nourishment from alternative sources in their environment.

It also could be that some kinds of wood contain trace minerals beneficial in specific concentrations.

While sticks generally aren’t a sustainable or balanced dietary option, these innate behaviors provide insight into the origins and development of some canine behavior.

Boredom Or Anxiety

Dogs may eat sticks as a way of dealing with boredom or anxiety.

Stick chewing can be an outlet for those emotions, allowing your dog to burn off excess energy and relieve some internal tension.

Mental stimulation, exercise, and physical activity help your dog express their emotions.

Unresolved issues can lead to destructive behaviors that become harder to manage.

So if you notice your pup chewing on a stick or two, provide them with more stimulating activities.

Curiosity Or Playfulness

Dogs are curious creatures by nature, and that trait often leads to them exploring new and strange things, like sticks.

They may pick up a stick, sniff it, and then take a bite to explore its taste.

As part of their canine instincts, sticks can also provide dogs with an engaging tactile puzzle.

When playing fetch with a stick, for example, some dogs get so caught up in the excitement of the game that they can’t help but take a bite from the object.

This behavior may also be related to their wolf ancestors’ behavior of tearing apart small animals or Birds as part of their hunting routine.

Underlying Medical Issues Or Behavioral Problems

Many pet owners may underestimate the seriousness of a seemingly harmless activity like dogs eating sticks.

However, in some cases, a dog’s desire to chow down on wooden objects might indicate that they are experiencing underlying medical issues or behavioral problems.

Dogs with health issues may resort to ingesting items like sticks to correct nutritional deficiencies.

Similarly, dogs with behavioral problems caused by anxiety or stress can use impulsive coprophagia to cope and distract themselves from their mental distress.

The Risks Of Dogs Eating Sticks

Choking Or Blockage Of The Digestive Tract

Eating sticks can be a healthy, natural dog behavior but should be closely monitored.

A major risk is choking and blockage of the digestive tract due to the size or shape of the stick.

A swallowed stick may also cause severe internal injury that requires medical attention.

Fortunately, many pets are deterred by the texture or taste of certain species of tree branches and won’t consume them.

If your pup eats a stick or large branch, it may need medical help, so call your veterinarian immediately.

Be proactive in protecting your furry friend by pulling sticks out of their reach when they chew on them and engaging them in more supervised activities outdoors.

Damage To The Mouth, Teeth, Or Throat

Eating sticks can have serious repercussions for your dog, as one of the more dangerous effects is damage to their mouth, teeth, or throat.

This is because of the hardness of the wood and how plastic, metal screws, and even nails can be found in some sticks.

Also, if they swallow a particularly large or sharp stick down the wrong way, it could easily get stuck in their throat and cause Blockage Obstruction Syndrome.

Therefore you should keep an eye on your pup at all times to ensure they are not licking or chewing any foreign objects, as there is always a risk that it could cause harm.

Infection Or Illness From Ingesting Bacteria, Fungi, Or Parasites

While it may seem harmless for dogs to eat sticks, the risk of infection or illness from ingesting bacteria, fungi, and parasites should not be underestimated.

If a stick has touched the ground, it is likely carrying germs that can be transferred to a dog when they start chewing on it.

This means that a dog who consumes a stick could end up ill with conditions such as vomiting or diarrhea, susceptible to serious infection if bacteria, such as Salmonella or E.

coli, were ingested or parasites, such as roundworms living in the gastrointestinal tract.

These scenarios emphasize why dogs should never be allowed to consume sticks to prevent potential health risks.

Potential Ingestion Of Toxic Substances

One of the key risks associated with dogs eating sticks is potentially ingesting toxic substances.

Certain rubbers, plastics, and even treated wood can contain various chemicals or toxins that harm a dog’s health.

They can damage the liver, intestines, and lungs if consumed.

Check any stick your dog plays with for insecticides or other chemicals before allowing free access.

How To Prevent Dogs From Eating Sticks

Remember, prevention is key to reducing the risk of your pup chewing on wood!

Every dog’s inquisitive nature makes them prone to eating sticks they find while outside, but this can be hazardous to their health.

To prevent your pup from ingesting sticks, owners should make sure there are plenty of chew toys around the house and yard.

Keep an eye on your dog outside to prevent them from picking up sticks or other dangerous items.

If your dog eats something unsafe, try distracting them with a treat or praise.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats A Stick

If your dog has eaten a stick, it’s important to consider the size and type of ingested stick.

Splinters can cause puncture wounds, and sticks over 10 inches can cause internal blockages.

If the stick is an appropriate size, there is generally no need to worry as it should pass through easily.

However, if your pup seems to be having any difficulty, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

It is also important to monitor their behavior over the next few days, such as frequent stomach gurgling or constipation.

Medical attention may be needed if your dog develops symptoms or doesn’t poop for 24 hours after eating the stick.

It is important to know the potential danger of dogs eating sticks.

Understanding why they do it is the first step to stopping your dog from doing it.

To keep your dog safe, give him a balanced diet, regular checkups, and lots of chew toys and mental stimulation.

Suppose you believe something more serious may be causing your dog to eat sticks.

If so, a vet or animal behaviorist can help your dog get back on track and avoid stick consumption’s dangers.

Before You Go…

Now you know dogs eat sticks.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Or watch this video:

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.