Dogs look cute chewing and fetching sticks. Dog owners have been playing fetch and snatching small sticks off trees to entertain their dog with for centuries. A dog with a stick in his mouth almost seems natural to most people. Dogs enjoy seeking out items to chew. It is one of their instincts to chew so they can keep their gums and teeth healthy. Pet toys are usually safe for dogs to chew on, assuming they are the proper size for your dog’s mouth. However, sticks are a different story. The following information will reveal the dangerous and resolutions related to dogs chewing on sticks.
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs chew sticks because they are easy to find outdoors and they provide a texture that is easy and fun to chew. If you have ever seen a dog with a stick, you most likely noticed it keeps him entertained for quite a long time. Some dogs enjoy it so much they chew on the stick for more than an hour. You might wonder what is so intriguing about sticks. Canines who lived in the wild, also known as your dog’s ancestors, used their natural environment to groom and clean their body. Chewing on sticks kept their teeth strong and clean, plus exercised the gums. In today’s world, domesticated dogs have plenty of toys to chew on that help keep their teeth and gums healthy. As a pet parent, you most likely have spent plenty of time choosing the best and safest toys available at the pet store or online. Chances are your dog still prefers to pick up sticks almost every time you take him outdoors. While chewing sticks is a natural behavior for canines, it can also be dangerous.
Playing fetch a few times with a stick, might not cause any issues. However, allowing your dog to chew on a stick for a few minutes or longer can lead to health issues. As dog’s chew on sticks, small slivers, splinters, and pieces of wood enter your dog’s mouth. Usually, this leads to your dog chewing on the small wood pieces or swallowing them without realizing it. Small pieces of wood, especially those the size of a thin splinter might not seem bad, but it can lead to a punctured mouth, esophagus, intestines, or stomach lining. These issues are serious and often require medical attention and surgery to fix the issue. This is a scary situation for a pet parent and a dangerous one for a dog. The good news is, this situation is avoidable.
Encouraging the Behavior
Chewing is beneficial to your dog’s health but it doesn’t have to be a stick. You can take steps to help prevent your dog from making a wooden stick into his own personal dental stick. Provide your dog with plenty of toys that have different textures. The pet industry has plenty of toy options to choose from. Stuffed animal type toys are even beneficial to your dog’s dental hygiene. Dogs often like to chew stuffed animals by placing them in their mouth to the point the fabric is lightly rubbing and massaging the gumline. If you have ever witnessed how good this feels to your dog, you might have seen him almost fall asleep while chewing the toy.
Plastic toys, rope knots, and specially made dental chew bones are beneficial for your dog to maintain a healthy mouth as well as keep him entertained. If playing fetch is your dog’s favorite thing to do, you can easily substitute the stick with a favorite toy instead. As a pet parent, you want to walk a fine line of not encouraging your dog to chew sticks, but at the same time encourage chewing toys. An easy way to make the switch is to carry a favorite toy along with you on your walks or when outdoors to replace the stick as soon as your dog picks it up.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Dog-proofing your yard is an excellent way to help prevent your dog from chewing sticks. Removing twigs and sticks from your yard on a regular basis is recommended. You can also take it a step further by trimming the trees in your yard to prevent small sticks from falling into the yard frequently. An interesting way to deter your dog from fetching sticks is to replace the entertainment with a Frisbee. Sometimes dogs enjoy the game of fetch more than the object they are chasing. Frisbee is an excellent substitution for a stick. It also provides your dog with the opportunity to have more exercise by jumping up in the hair to catch it.
Protecting your dog from serious oral and internal injury due to chewing sticks is essential to his well-being. Avoiding your dog from getting access to sticks as much as possible is recommended. If you cannot control the environment around you, try your best to distract your dog with his favorite toys. If you have a stubborn pup that just loves sticks, try allowing your dog to take his favorite toy along with him in his mouth on every walk, this way his mouth is already full and there is no room for a harmful stick.
By a Cocker Spaniel lover Shellie Sutera
Published: 03/16/2018, edited: 01/30/2020