Dogs are great fans of playing, particularly when they’re outside. When you’re out with your dog, you will most likely engage in a fun game of fetch. Dogs love to use sticks during fetch, and also as chew toys.
If you dog eats a stick, wood splinters may hurt their mouth and throat either by cutting or by getting stuck. Certain types of wood can be toxic for dogs, such as yew, black cherry, azaleas, red maple, and walnut. Eating sticks can also cause intestinal issues with varying degrees of severity.
We will offer more insight into why dogs feel the need to eat sticks in the following sections. We will also show in more depth what can happen if your dog eats a stick, as well as how to avoid it.
Why Do Dogs Eat Sticks?
There are many reasons why dogs find sticks entertaining, regardless of their age.
- When they’re puppies, dogs are fascinated by everything. They discover the world by interacting with it, and sticks are a natural encounter.
- Sticks are found in great numbers outdoors, and dogs happen upon them all the time.
- Dogs love anything bone-shaped and sticks fit the bill. This shape also makes it easy for dogs to maneuver sticks.
- Sticks become natural tools in games of throw and fetch precisely because they’re so easy to find and to use.
- It’s calming. Chewing is a source of comfort for dogs and something that they can find very soothing, especially if agitated.
- Dental discomfort. Puppies need to chew on something, particularly when they’re teething. Adult dogs can also have dental issues that they’ll seek to alleviate by chewing.
- Dogs can also suffer from this obsessive-compulsive disorder, particularly labrador retrievers. This condition makes dogs compulsively eat, especially items with no nutritional value such as sticks.
What Happens if Your Dog Eats a Stick?
If your dog ate a stick, you should take into consideration the potential dangers caused by the wood splinters and then act accordingly.
Potential Consequences from Stick Indigestion
These are some of the issues you may face if your dog ate a stick.
- Wood splinters are sharp and can cause extensive cuts while sticks are being chewed. If they are not treated, these cuts can become infected and even cause abscesses.
- Wood splinters can remain lodged in the throat or further down the digestive tract. This can cause numerous health issues for the dog.
- Bowel obstruction. Eating sticks can further prevent the normal functions of the gastrointestinal tract by blocking the bowels. This could also require surgery to fix.
- Perforated intestines. Larger wood splinters can cause significant damage that may even require surgical intervention.
- Poisoning. Many types of wood can be toxic to dogs: red maple, yew, black walnut, black locust, red oak, and black cherry are just a few examples. Fruit trees like apple trees and pear trees can pose a risk too. They have particularly appealing wood in terms of fragrance and taste.
What to Do When Fido Has Some Wood
If your dog ate a stick, make sure to immediately remove any sticks within her reach to prevent further issues. Keep an eye on your dog for any signs of discomfort or unusual behavior and promptly seek help from a veterinarian if you see anything outside the norm. Here are some things to look out for:
- Breathing issues: if your dog is breathing abnormally after eating a stick, you should contact your veterinarian. Rapid breathing can indicate that the dog is in pain, and labored breathing can indicate that something is blocking the airways or lodged in the throat.
- Nausea/vomiting: this is another set of symptoms that indicates the need for immediate veterinarian attention.
- Lethargy: if your dog seems abnormally apathetic after eating a stick, it could indicate that they are in pain or feeling unwell due to wood splinters.
- Loss of appetite: this is one of the most common symptoms when something is wrong with your dog. Not eating is a sure sign of your dog feeling unwell, which could be due to issues along the digestive tract.
- Whining: your dog will usually try her best to let you know that something is wrong. If she’s feeling unwell, she may let you know by whining to show her discomfort.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Sticks
There are a few things you can do to eliminate the risk posed by sticks as much as possible.
Housekeeping Keeps the Wood Away From Them
Sticks can be found pretty much everywhere, which means they can’t all be removed. However, there are some small things you can do within your normal routine that can help with keeping your dog safe.
- Clearing: keep an eye on sticks that are present on your usual walking route and try to remove them if you can. If you have a yard, you should make sure all loose sticks and pieces of wood are taken away from where your dog might run into them. If you have firewood in storage, make sure that it is not within the dog’s reach.
- Monitor: when outside, observe your dog’s surroundings and what she may be able to reach in her path. If she grabs hold of a stick, remove it before she gets a chance to chew on it.
- Training: commands such as ‘no’, ‘drop it’, and ‘leave it’ should be used whenever your dog becomes interested in a stick. This will help your dog understand that sticks are something to avoid.
- Positive reinforcement: make sure to reward your dog when she stops playing with sticks at your command. Offer treats and chewable toys instead.
- Never use sticks as toys. If your dog wants to play fetch, do not throw sticks. Make sure to have other toys on hand to use in your games.
Alternatives to the Oh So Loved Stick Toy
There are plenty of alternatives to offer your dog that will take her mind off sticks. Here are some options:
- Risk-free chewable toys. Dogs love chewing but sticks are far from their only chance for that. Numerous chewable toys are both safe and resistant, and some of them are even shaped like sticks. Check with your veterinarian for an expert opinion.
- Tennis balls. These are another dog-favorite staple, and much more resistant than sticks. Throwing tennis balls will keep your dog entertained for many hours.
- Make sure that you are fully aware of your dog’s particular needs when it comes to how much she needs to be walked. Some dogs need to work off more energy than others, so adapt your routine according to those factors. Plentiful walks and activities will both keep your dog happy and away from chewing sticks out of boredom or agitation.
- More socializing. Running around with friends can also be instrumental in keeping your dog happy and away from sticks. Your dog’s active social life has the added benefits of keeping apathy and boredom at bay.
Sticks pose enough of a risk to dogs that they should be kept away at all times. Despite dogs loving sticks, they should be taught that they are not toys. There are plenty of other safe chewable toys that can provide plenty of entertainment without any damage. If your dog does eat a stick, make sure to observe her behavior and call a veterinarian if she seems at all unwell. Sticks can be toxic, and they splinter easily, which can cause a great deal of damage.
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