Dogs look adorable when they hold a stick in their mouth and for many years, humans have been playing fetch games with their pet dogs.
Dogs love to hold different things in their mouth, and coming out on top of these things are sticks.
A dog holding a stick in his mouth is normal for most people and they consider it as its instinct.
But it is not like that, dogs holding or chewing their pet toys are considered safe, but chewing a stick can have dangerous effects on a dog.
Dogs chew sticks because they are easily available to the outdoors and the texture of a stick is easy to hold and fun to chew for most dogs. Furthermore, the musky and earthy taste seems to appeal to your dog. Dogs also chew sticks due to nutritional and mineral deficiencies in some cases. If their meals are not able to provide them with all the nutrients that their bodies require, then they might try to find them in other things, one of which happens to be plain ol’ sticks.
The root cause of this Behavior
Dogs chew sticks because it is easy for them to find one and the texture of the stick is fun for them to play with.
You might have seen a dog holding a stick and have noticed that they are completely concentrated on playing with it, not wanting to pay attention to anything happening around them.
Some dogs love sticks so much that they could spend the whole day chewing them. Canines who are known as the ancestors of dogs used their natural environment to clean and groom their body. And one of these cleaning products were sticks which helped them keep their teeth and gums strong, clean, and healthy.
Chewing sticks is a canine instinct, dating back to thousands of years. However, it is better to not let your furball overindulge in a stick feast while you are out as it can be dangerous sometimes.
The Possible Reasons Behind this Habit
Chewing sticks could be a symptom of many medical problems such as:
- Dental issues
- Nutritional and mineral deficiency
- Digestive disorders
Is your dog eating all of his meal? If not, then he might not like the food that you are giving to him. With a hungry stomach, your dog may go out and rush to a fallen stick to satisfy his hunger. Another reason may that if you happen to own some other pets, they might eat your dog’s fpod, leaving him hungry and he may turn to sticks to fulfil his hunger.
A variety of behavioural issues can also lead your dog to be attracted towards eating weird things like sticks. Some of these issues are:
- Nervousness or Fear
- Looking for attention
If your dog is suffering from any kind of dental or gum disease, he might chew sticks to overcome the pain but by doing this he is making it even worse.
Nutritional or Mineral Deficiency
Some commercial dog foods do not contain enough nutrition or minerals required by the body of your dog.
Some dog foods contain artificial fillers by eating these, there is no room available for nutrients in the stomach of your dog.
If your furball has a mineral or nutritional deficiency, he might try to get it from other sources such as sticks.
Digestive disorders can cause a lot of irritation to your dog and ito overcome it he starts eating sticks. With sticks, come bacteria and organisms such as worms and all of this is definitely not healthy for your dog. This can lead to problems such as gastritis, tumours, stomach inflammation and many other diseases.
When the red blood cell count of your dog is low it develops a condition called Pica. Pica is common in humans too and causes a dog to eat nonfood items such as sticks and tins.
Low red blood cell count can be due to internal bleeding or even leukaemia. So you may want to book an appointment at the vet to rule out any of these risks.
Sticks from a Dogs Perspective
From a dog’s perspective, stick smust somewhat resemble a bone. The structure of a stick is to some extent like a bone and some sticks are also juicy in taste.
These features of sticks attract dogs towards them and dogs find it fun to play and chew them.
Sticks provide an opportunity for dogs to sharpen their teeth and by gripping on sticks their gums become healthy.
Of course, sticks don’t taste as good as a bone but they are a good companion, in case, no bone is available to chew.
Somehow, chewing and tearing a stick into pieces also provides a wild experience to the dog as naturally the dog was made to rip and tear its prey.
And it is a fact that whenever a dog is involved in a heartwarming experience, they want to do that again and again.
Dangers for Dogs Chewing or Eating Sticks
Chewing and eating a stick in a dog may look like a guiltless habit but it has some serious issues associated with it.
The small pieces can stick in the teeth of your dog and cause serious irritation. Your dog may stop eating meals and seem to be always busy scratching his mouth with his paw. Moreover, small pieces of the stick can lacerate the mouth of your dog.
Further down, these small particles can irritate the stomach lining of your dog to a bout of diarrhoea or vomiting.
In more severe cases, the ingested stick can lead to a foreign body obstruction which happens when particles from a stick blocks the pylorus in the stomach.
Sometimes, a sharp stick splinter can damage the small intestine which can cause the life-threatening peritonitis infection.
There is also a risk of getting exposed to toxins if the stick ingested belonged to a tree that is toxic to dogs such as sago palms, black walnuts and red maples.
There are a lot of dangers for your dog if he is in a habit of chewing sticks but of course, there is always a solution to every problem.
What can you do to stop them?
Clean your yard daily and every morning look for sticks, which may have fallen from a tree at night. This sounds silly as it is a difficult task to clean up the whole yard but you will have to do it for your dog’s health and your peace of mind.
If your dog has a habit of pulling off sticks from bushes and trees then fencing would be a good option to keep your dog limited to the space designated to it. Try not to grow any plants that are toxic for dogs.
Teach your dog the ‘leave it’ or ‘drop it’ commands so whenever it picks up something depraved like sticks you can use this command and when your doggo responds to your command, reward him with some tasty treats, to make it feel like it has done something heroic by listening to you and not chewing a musty stick. Eventually, it’ll learn to entirely stay away from sticks generally. Practice these commands repeatedly in your yard and trade sticks with some tasty treats and appealing toys especially those that your dog likes to play with.
When you are in your yard provide your dog with interesting and attractive toys so he can play with them instead of chewing sticks or anything else.
Muzzling dogs to prevent them from eating sticks can be a considerable option, however, muzzled dogs should always be highly supervised.
On top of this, always remember that even though muzzling can be a good management tool, it is not a permanent solution.
A muzzle (it should enable your dog to pant) should only be used as a momentary measure whereas working on the training of rapid answers to the ‘drop it’ and ‘leave it’ commands.
Dogs with short noses are susceptible to respiratory problems so make sure that they should wear muzzles specifically manufactured for them.
Those dogs who have a habit to chew sticks are often bored out of their mind. If you provide them with more exercise and play with them often, chances are that they will get rid of this habit.
Stick to Toys Instead
Chewing has many benefits to your dog’s health but it should not be a stick.
You can help your dog with this habit so he stops to chew sticks and chews something healthy instead.
Domestic dogs have a variety of toys available for them to chew and exercise their teeth. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to provide your pet with good and safe toys to play with. There are aisles and aisles of pet stores full of dog toys from which you can choose from.
If you manage to successfully provide your dog with toys, but it still gravitates towards fallen twigs, then you do not have to fret too much.
Stuffed toys are even more beneficial for your dog’s dental hygiene they keep the teeth of your dog strong and Gums healthy.
Did you ever notice a dog sleeping with a toy in his mouth? This is because dog toys made up of fabric are dearest to the dogs as the fabric gently rub the gums, which provides satisfaction to your dog.
Plastic toys and specially made dental chew bones help a lot in keeping your dog’s mouth healthy while entertaining him as well.
If your dog likes to play fetch games, then you can simply substitute his favourite toy with the stick.
As a pet parent, you should always try to replace the stick with a toy and whenever you go out for a walk, keep a toy with you so you can replace it at times when your dog finds a stick to chew.
Treating your dog for eating sticks can depend upon the severity of the case.
It can cost you a bottle of nutritional supplements or maybe if the case is severe, your dog will need to have surgery which is a lot expensive.
It depends upon the condition of your dog. Different medical tests have a different price range and Vets and consultants are also not so cheap.
If you have a pet dog than it is your responsibility to keep a close eye on him, so you can take action at the time when he is involved in chewing sticks or eating items that are not good for his health.
If you immediately stop your dog from chewing sticks, it can save him from big trouble.
Give your fluffy friend a healthy diet with all the nutrients and minerals.
Most importantly, show love and affection towards your pupper and never lack attention for him, to keep him healthy, active and happy.