My Dog is Eating wood – Should I Worry?

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 09/28/23 •  11 min read
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Pet parents to canine companions often wonder why their dogs seem to enjoy chewing on wood. Playing fetch outside, with a tree branch or a small log, is a common game we enjoy with our fur babies. However, chewing on wood can leave you pretty unhappy with your fur baby. Have you come home only to find one of the legs on your dining table has been gnawed by a huge “termite”? Or have your come across your dog chewing the woodwork around a door or window?

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Some dogs seem to have an obsession for gnawing on wood, be it furniture or wood from outdoors. Whatever your dog’s preference in wood, a dog that eats or chews wood can be a sign of underlying health and behavioral issues.

Why Do Dogs Eat Wood?

There are several possible reasons why your fur baby may be eating wood. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons your dog may be chewing and/or eating wood:

As you can see, dogs chew for many reasons, including easing the anxiety of boredom and being left alone, teething and just natural curiosity. However, there’s another reason some dogs to turn chewing and eating wood—it’s called pica.

Dog owners may find pieces of wood in their dog’s mouth, which can cause broken teeth and injury to the dog’s gums and tissues in the mouth. Not only that, but these splinters and small pieces of wood could get stuck in the digestive tract. The intestinal tract is very sensitive and it might be a good idea to follow a dog training to ensure that you teach your dog not to eat wood. Adult dogs with the bad habit of chewing on wood may experience dog’s stomach issues from eating sticks and other foreign objects. The ingestion of mulch and other nonfood items can severally impact your dog’s health and you should teach him to leave it. Your pooch may suffer from nutritional deficiency and look for things to compensate, ask your vet for more advice.

Dog Pica – an Eating Disorder

Pica is an eating disorder that can affect dogs and even their pet parents. It’s compulsive eating disorder that leads dogs (or humans) to eat items that are not considered food. Eaten items can include dirt, clay, wood, glue, hair, and more. This condition can be caused by either malnutrition, intestinal parasites, or a psychological issue (such as boredom or separation anxiety). Your dog eating wood vitamin deficiency could also be caused by pica. Pica can be harmful if the dog eats substances and items that are toxic or could damage his digestive system. The condition can also cause choking, poisoning, etc.

Signs and symptoms of pica can include:

More serious symptoms of pica, such as an intestinal blockage, may include:

Keep in mind, too, that some wood is toxic to dogs. This includes wood from trees such as black walnut, black cherry, yew or red maple. If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms in your fur baby, it’s time to see the vet. If you suspect a bowel blockage, then this is an emergency and needs to be treated as soon as possible.

Why is my Dog Eating Burnt Wood?

He could be eating ashes for any of the reasons above, but he may also be eating ashes if they smell or taste like food. When you cook out on the grill or over a campfire, juices and flavorings from the meat fall into the fire. Ashes may simply smell and taste a bit like the food that was cooked over them. Is it bad dogs eating wood ashes? If a dog eats only a little ash, he will more than likely be OK. However, if your pup eats more than just a lick of ashes, he could become ill.

My Dog Ate Wood What Should I Do?

First off, don’t panic, especially if your dog ate only a few very small pieces of wood. Chances are he will be OK. However, if you know for a fact that he ate quite a bit of wood, then it’s time to call the vet and get your dog in to see them. One of the problems is that wood easily splinters, which means small, jagged or sharp pieces can cause injuries anywhere in your dog’s digestive system. He could have a mouth injury, or a cut in esophagus, etc.

On the other hand, larger pieces of wood can cause perforations in the stomach lining or the intestines. They can also cause a bowel obstruction. These are emergency scenarios which can be life-threatening for your fur baby. If you’re worried the ashes or wood your dog has eaten may cause a problem, then it’s time to call the vet. They may ask you to bring your canine companion in to be checked, and possibly treated depending on the situation.

How to Keep My Dog from Eating Wood?

If you dog seems to be obsessed with chewing wood, there are some things you can do to curb this behavior including:

In addition to these steps, you can also train your dog to chew on appropriate things, such as his doggie toys. If you notice your dog chewing wood, then try to offer him a chew toy instead. Something appropriate may be the Kong Extreme Dog Toy. This toy is made to chewed, and you can also fill it with your pup’s favorite treats. Make sure the toy is the right size for your dog—don’t get a huge Kong Dog Toy, for instance, for a small dog, or vice versa. Chewing on this type of dog toy can help with separation anxiety, train him to avoid wood, boredom, etc.

My Dog Won’t Stop Chewing Wood

Sometimes the methods listed above may not curb your dog from chewing or eating wood. If that’s the case, you may need to try these alternative methods to help your dog stop eating wood:

1). Use negative reinforcement: if your dog start to approach a piece of wood or starts eating wood, then quickly say “no.” You’ll have to do this every time he begins to approach or eat the wood. When your dog leaves the wood alone, always praise him and give him a treat to encourage him to stop chewing on wood. However, never strike or swat your dog for eating wood, as this can make the behavior even worse and your dog could become destructive.

2). Take it away: if you find your dog has wood in his mouth or is in the act of chewing the wood, then say “no” firmly and take the wood away. You can also train him to drop the wood. Then be sure to give him a substitute to chew on right away.

3). Stop your dog with a pet cam: if you find that your dog’s chewing wood while you’re away at work, it may be helpful to install a pet camera, such as the PetCube. This way, you can check on your dog throughout the day and scold him if he begins eating wood. The PetCube even lets you chat with your pet, hear their response and more. You can also play with your fur baby with the built-in pet-safe laser. This pet cam also works with cats.

4). Create a safe space: if your dog is suffering from anxiety, you may want to create a space where he feels safe. This may be a snug corner in the living room or a crate (that’s the proper size for your dog). Your fur baby may need a space where he feels more comfortable and can relax.

Chewing wood may seem like a harmless activity; however, it can be quite harmful to your dog and your home. If you’re dealing with a teething puppy, it will be necessary to help them learn to chew on appropriate items. For adult pups, you’ll need to also help them learn to chew on the right types of items such as dog toys and treats. However, if your dog continues to chew or shows signs that eating wood has caused a medical problem, it’s a good idea to have your dog checked out by the vet. The vet will be able to determine if the chewing is a behavioral problem or due to an underlying medical condition. Proper treatment will depend on the cause.

If you stay patient and aware of what your dog’s doing, you and the vet will be able to determine the cause of your fur baby’s wood habit. He may need some medical treatment or behavioral training in order to finally stop eating or chewing on wood.

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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