Why Do Dogs Eat Wood? Exploring the Causes and Solutions

As a veterinarian, I have dealt with my fair share of bizarre pet behaviors. One of the most common questions I get asked is why dogs eat wood. While it may seem harmless, this behavior can actually be quite dangerous for our furry friends. In this article, we will explore the causes of wood eating in dogs and discuss potential solutions to keep our pets safe.

Why Do Dogs Eat Wood? Exploring the Causes and Solutions

What is Pica in Dogs?

Before we dive into the reasons why dogs eat wood, it’s important to understand what pica is. Pica is a condition where dogs crave and consume non-food items. This can include anything from rocks and socks to paper and plastic. Pica is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of another underlying issue.

Why Do Dogs Eat Wood?

There are several reasons why dogs may eat wood:

Nutritional Deficiencies

One possible cause of wood eating is a nutritional deficiency. Dogs may be lacking in certain vitamins or minerals, and their body craves the nutrients found in wood. This is more common in puppies or dogs on a restricted diet.

Boredom or Anxiety

Another possible cause is boredom or anxiety. Dogs who are left alone for long periods of time may turn to wood as a way to alleviate their stress or entertain themselves. This is especially true for high-energy breeds who need a lot of mental and physical stimulation.

Oral Fixation

Some dogs simply have an oral fixation and like to chew on things. This may be due to teething, a habit formed in puppyhood, or a desire to alleviate stress.

Medical Issues

Finally, there may be an underlying medical issue causing the wood eating. This can include gastrointestinal problems, dental issues, or even a brain tumor. If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it’s important to rule out any potential medical issues.

The Dangers of Wood Eating

While it may seem harmless, wood eating can actually be quite dangerous for our dogs. Here are some of the potential dangers:

  • Choking: Wood can easily break apart and become lodged in a dog’s throat, causing them to choke.
  • Intestinal Blockages: Larger pieces of wood can get stuck in a dog’s intestines, leading to blockages that may require surgery to remove.
  • Splinters: Wood can splinter and cause damage to a dog’s mouth, throat, or gastrointestinal tract.
  • Toxicity: Some types of wood can be toxic to dogs, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

How to Stop Dogs from Eating Wood

If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, there are several things you can do to stop them from eating wood:

Provide Adequate Nutrition

Make sure your dog is getting a balanced and nutritious diet. If you suspect they may be deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, talk to your veterinarian about adding supplements to their diet.

Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation

Provide your dog with plenty of mental and physical stimulation, especially if they are left alone for long periods of time. This can include toys, games, and walks.

Train Your Dog

Teach your dog what is and isn’t acceptable to chew on. Provide them with plenty of appropriate chew toys and praise them when they chew on them.

Seek Veterinary Help

If your dog’s wood eating is related to an underlying medical issue, seek veterinary help immediately. Your vet can diagnose any potential issues and provide treatment.


In conclusion, wood eating in dogs can be a dangerous behavior that should not be ignored. While there are several potential causes, it’s important to rule out any underlying medical issues and provide your dog with appropriate nutrition and stimulation. If you’re concerned about your dog’s wood eating behavior, talk to your veterinarian for advice and support.


Q: Why do dogs eat wood?
A: Dogs have a natural chewing behavior that helps them clean their teeth, relieve anxiety, and promote muscle development in their jaws. Chewing on wood may also be a way for dogs to explore their environment and alleviate boredom. However, if the behavior becomes excessive or compulsive, it could indicate a medical or behavioral issue that requires attention.

Q: Is it safe for dogs to eat wood?
A: No, it is not safe for dogs to eat wood. Wood can splinter and cause intestinal blockages, puncture the digestive system, or lead to other serious health problems. Ingesting wood can also expose dogs to toxins, bacteria, and parasites from the environment.

Q: How can I stop my dog from eating wood?
A: To stop your dog from eating wood, you should first identify the underlying cause of the behavior. If your dog is chewing on wood due to boredom, provide them with plenty of toys, exercise, and mental stimulation. If there is an underlying medical issue, consult with your vet to develop a treatment plan. You can also use deterrents such as bitter sprays or teach your dog a “leave it” command to redirect their attention from wood. Additionally, providing your dog with safe and appropriate chew toys can satisfy their natural chewing behavior without risking their health.

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