Can dogs eat and digest wood?

can dogs digest wood

Have you ever noticed that your dog chews on a piece of wood or a branch and, in between, eats small pieces of broken wood? Then you might ask yourself if dogs eat wood and if they can digest wood at all.

Dogs cannot digest wood. Whether it is dangerous for your dog to eat wood depends on the piece of wood eaten in each individual case. If it is small wood chips like a chewed-up piece of bark, it will usually just be excreted and is harmless. However, suppose it is larger wood splinters, which he has gnawed, for example, from a beam lying around. In that case, it can lead to smaller and larger injuries up to intestinal obstruction.

The following article will discuss why dogs eat wood and whether they can digest it.

Why do dogs chew on wood and branches?

Before we get into what happens when dogs eat wood, let’s go back to the beginning and discuss why dogs chew on anything like wood and branches in the first place.

Chewing is a natural behavior for your dog. It is a basic instinct. Even if your dog is anything but a wild animal, like the wolf, it is still in his genes to chew on objects of all kinds.

The chewing on wood or other objects fulfills a variety of tasks. It serves, on the one hand, dental care. Chewing and gnawing remove tartar and prevents caries. At the same time, chewing and gnawing relax your dog.

If you have a puppy, there is also the point of toothache. If your puppy is in the process of changing teeth, a toothache can be the reason why he chews on wood, branches, or anything and eats the gnawed off afterward.

If your dog has grabbed a branch in the yard and is chewing and gnawing on it, it’s nothing unusual. But is a piece of wood or an addition also harmless, or should you rather provide an alternative?

Reasons why dogs eat wood

We now know why dogs chew on branches and wood. But are there also reasons why they eat wood?

It may indicate a deficiency if your dog is constantly eating wood or other indigestible items.

Fiber and roughage deficiencies may be why your dog eats indigestible wood to compensate for the deficit. Make sure you feed good dog food to prevent a weakness in the first place.

Can dogs digest wood?

Dogs cannot digest wood, such as gnawed wood chips or small pieces from a branch. Ideally, the wood or bark is excreted.

However, if your dog eats too much or too large pieces of wood, it can lead to severe injury and discomfort that can be extremely dangerous for your dog.

Reasons why your dog should not chew and eat wood

Although it can often go well, in my opinion, you should not give your dog a stick and, indeed, not a log of wood to chew and gnaw on.

Wood splinters can hurt your dog.

When your dog chews on wood, it can splinter. These splinters can hurt his palate or gums or get stuck between his teeth.

Wood splinters can also be swallowed and cause internal injuries to your dog’s esophagus, stomach, or intestines.

You’ve probably had a wood splinter in your finger before. Imagine your dog chewing on that piece of wood and then having those splinters in his mouth. Not a pleasant thought.

Eating wood can lead to intestinal obstruction.

Not only can a dog not digest wood, but it can also lead to intestinal obstruction. This happens because foreign objects, such as wood, get stuck in the intestines.

Intestinal obstruction can be fatal to a dog, so if you suspect it, you should see a vet as soon as possible.

Symptoms that indicate an intestinal obstruction because your dog swallowed a foreign body include:

  • Vomiting and abdominal cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • dog no longer defecates
  • bloody or black feces indicate that the foreign body has injured the intestinal wall

Particular wood can lead to poisoning

Besides the injuries that can occur when your dog eats wood, certain woods can also be toxic to your dog.

Black locust, or false acacia, is toxic to dogs and can cause convulsive twitching, vomiting, and apathy.

Yew is also toxic if your dog chews on a piece.

If you are unsure if your dog is chewing on a poisonous branch or wood, it is better to take it away from him to be safe.

Honestly, I don’t always know which plant or shrub it is. Therefore, our dogs have no sticks or twigs to chew on.

Dogs should not chew treated wood.

Even though your dog is in the forest, in the garden, on the walk, or everywhere natural wood can find what he should not chew and eat, you must ensure that he also chews no treated wood.

Coated wood, glazed or varnished wood, chipboard, etc. are A: toxic, and B: they have an increased risk of splintering and can massively injure your dog.

For this reason, you should discourage your dog from chewing on your furniture. The small wood splinters and fibers will come loose and enter the digestive tract along with the toxic coating and can lead to injury and poisoning.

Offer your dog alternatives to chew

A dog needs chews. The most natural and best are bones to help with dental care, relieve stress, and satisfy the natural urge to chew.

Unlike wood, dogs can digest bones and serve as a calcium source. Also, in nature, wolves and wild dogs eat the whole prey animal, including bones.

Cane Corso satisfies his chewing instinct with a bone
Malou with her Bone

In addition to a natural bone, you can also use chews from specialty stores. Since we have giant dogs with an incredible biting force, our dogs are only allowed to chew under supervision, for example, with their Kong Extreme*. If it becomes too excessive, we have to take it away before they destroy it completely.

Conclusion: Can dogs digest wood or branches?

Branches or wood, in general, are not digestible by dogs. In the best case, the wood is excreted by the dog. In the worst case, eaten wood can lead to poisoning, internal injuries, or intestinal obstruction.

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I am Marco and I have the pleasure of living with 3 large Mastiff-type dog breeds. I would like to share my dog-related experiences on this blog

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