Why is it that dogs seem rather obsessed with sticks? When we go out for a walk, I can’t stop my dog from retrieving sticks along the way, carrying them all the way home and then chewing them to bits. I have always wondered what the reason is, and I know for a fact that most dog behaviour is always logical.
Why Do Dogs Like Sticks – The Reasons
So why does my does eat sticks? The main reason is actually quite simple; sticks resemble bones, because of the shape. We all know that dogs love bones, and a wooden stick is a great substitute. If it wasn’t for us, the owners, feeding our dogs, they’d be eating bones instead. Not only do they enjoy the meaty flavour, but the marrow on the inside is a great source of nutrients for them.
Dogs do actually know the difference between bones and sticks, but the wood is easy to chew so they enjoy it. The earthy, musky scent and taste play a big part in why they enjoy sticks, too.
The attraction for sticks starts at a very young age – for a teething puppy, wooden sticks are absolutely perfect. Dogs love being able to chew and play with something, whilst being able to destroy it at the same time. Chewing is also a natural stress reliever for them.
There are some things that you should look out for when letting your dog chew sticks, but overall retrieving and chewing sticks is never a bad thing. The only time it becomes a bad behaviour is if your dog refuses to stop excessively chewing or carrying, and begins to disobey its owner.
Things to Look Out For:
Most dogs are smart enough to chew and spit as they go along, but there are some dogs that swallow pieces small enough, which could cause problems.
The problems don’t only arise because of splinters in their gums or tears in the esophagus, but also because some branches have toxins that will upset our dog’s stomachs.
Type of Wood
Sticks from apple, pear, or other fruit trees can be problematic, because the wood from these trees have a rich, aromatic taste which appeals to dogs, but the toxins can give our dog’s an upset tummy.
Also, sticks from Azaleas, black walnut, black cherry, red oak, black locust, red maple, and yew trees contain amounts of poison. If your dog chews enough sticks from these trees, he can get very ill.
There are some types of trees which are actually really good for your dog to chew – such as white willow bark. This is because it is the source from which aspirin is extracted, and so it is a natural pain reliever for dogs and it can prevent blood clots.
Keep an eye out for the size of stick your dog is chewing and make sure it’s too big to fit in his mouth. It’s very possible that your dog could end up with his jaw locked open because a stick is wedged inside. As mentioned above, you don’t want your dog to be swallowing anything, just in case of tears or ruptures from the inside, and smaller pieces can give your dog splinters in his gums or cause small pieces to get wedged between his teeth.
Of course, big sticks eventually turn into a pile of little sticks, so make sure to clear up and take away the smaller pieces before your dog even gets a chance to get to them.
So now we know the answer to our question why do dog eat sticks, and we also know what things we should keep an eye out for so that we can ensure our dogs are as happy and healthy as they can be.
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