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Of course, we've all seen our dog with a stick in it's mouth; dogs love to play and fetch a stick.
Many dogs will often chew sticks, just like a bone or food.
What's the big deal anyway?
My dog is always eating things off the ground when I'm dropping food, and chewing and eating sticks is no different.
Puppies under six months are constantly picking up foreign objects that go into their mouth!
This can be a big problem!
What should you do when your dog is actually chewing and eating sticks?
Well, we are going to discuss why dogs eat sticks, why chewing on sticks is a bad habit, and how to your dog from eating sticks going forward.
Eating Sticks Is Dangerous
It's fairly common to have a dog obsessed with eating sticks.
This can put them at risk for numerous medical issues down the road.
I mean, sticks are everywhere.
First, some wooden sticks or tree branches come from trees that may be poisonous to dogs.
Think of the chestnut, oak, apple, buckeye, and locust.
These trees will have nuts, conkers, flowers, wood/bark, and leaves, some of which contain toxic substances, such as Aesculin or others, which are deadly to dogs.
The other danger of chewing sticks is its a choking hazard and can cause intestinal blockages.
Sticks are inappropriate things that should not be ingested because of the internal damage it can do.
If a dog swallows parts of a tree branch, those sharp edges can perforate your pup's digestive tract or esophagus.
If your dog cannot pass the foreign object through its gastrointestinal tract they are in serious danger.
If you are not quick enough to take your dog in for surgery, it could very well die all because of eating sticks.
Lastly, if your dog likes to chew on sticks, it can cause dental issues down the road. Sticks damage your dog's mouth and wear down its teeth.
Also, when a dog chews on a stick, it splinters, which can end up in your dog's gums.
It Can Be a Sign of a Medical Problem
Nutritional deficiencies, digestive disorders, or oral and dental issues can all cause your dog to eat sticks.
Dogs that eat poor quality commercial dog food are usually lacking in necessary vitamins and minerals.
Animal proteins that have been cooked down at high temperatures lose amino acids creating a nutritional deficiency.
Other ingredients in the recipe lose their nutritional value during this process, and companies try to put them back using incomplete synthetic vitamins and minerals.
And for whatever reason, your dog decides eating sticks is how they can get that nutrient they're missing.
Digestive Or Internal Parasitic Problems
It could also be an underlying stomach or digestive issue.
Finally, some dogs eat sticks because they developed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), tumors, worms, gastritis, or stomach inflammation.
Or they could just have an upset stomach and are trying to relieve that.
Oral and Dental Problems
Your dog could also be in pain from some underlying medical problem like gum or dental disease or cavities.
They resort to destructive behaviors like chewing sticks to relieve the pain and discomfort they feel in their gums and teeth.
A potential medical issue is anemia and low blood cell count.
If the reason your dog is chewing on sticks is because they're anemic, it means they have a low red blood cell count, and they might have developed pica, which causes the dog to eat non-edible items.
Anemia can be caused by different medical conditions such as intestinal bleeding or leukemia.
It Can Be Hunger
Have you noticed that your dog might not be eating all their food that you put in the bowl?
If that's the case, or if other pets in your household are stealing some of your pup's food, then the dog might be hungry.
A stick likely taste good enough for your pet to want to consume it when they're hungry.
It Could Be Behavioral Issues
Anxiousness, stress, boredom, fear, and craving for attention – all these behavioral issues and conditions can cause dogs to eat sticks as a way to fight off stress.
When To Get Your Dog to the Vet
If you see your dog eating sticks go ahead and call the vet.
Depending on the veterinarian, they'll say as long as you've caught them early in the act just take it from them and see if they start to show any other signs of pain.
If you see your dog eating and SWALLOWING parts of the stick, call your vet wait to get the okay to bring them in.
The veterinarian will need to give your pup a physical examination.
They will perform blood tests to find out if the dog is anemic or has mineral deficiency. X-rays will reveal if the dog has digestive disorders.
The vet might also decide to do MRI or CT scans.
They will examine the dog's teeth for dental problems and refer the dog to a veterinary dentist if it is something more complicated.
If this is a behavioral problem, it will require patience, attention, love, and hard work on your part as you work with retraining your pooch.
You may even need the help of a dog training or especially a canine behaviorist.
Next, let's talk about how to get your dog to leave sticks alone.
We'll also talk about some alternative toys you can use if you see your dog chew on sticks often.
Instead of playing fetch with sticks, encourage your dog to play with dog toys.
There are many different types that your pooch will favor and that are safer than wooden sticks: chew toys, rubber bones, balls, and other things.
Ideally, you also remove fallen sticks, tree branches, bark, nuts, leaves, flowers and pieces of wood debris that fall from the trees or avoid the areas where there's a lot of that stuff around.
This will keep your dog safer and away from returning to their old habits of chewing on sticks.