Why Do Dogs Eat Sticks?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

Dogs will put just about anything in their mouth – but sometimes there’s a reason for it. Read on to find out why dogs eat sticks – and is it safe to let them do it.

When you are out and about with your doggo – in the park or in the yard – it is likely that you will spot them busy carrying or merrily chewing away at a stick. This might leave you wondering. Why would your doggo munch on an unappetizing, dirty stick? What is it that makes sticks appealing to dogs? The explanation might be simpler than you expect. One reason is just plain old fun. Sticks are all over the place and are basically free toys in the park. Once outside, a dog will be overwhelmed and full of that hyperactive joy – known as the zoomies. And when the zoomies hit, a simple thing as a stick seems like the most entertaining toy that ever was!

Some dogs simply enjoy the texture of a stick and the feeling of gnawing on it – for reasons known only to them. But there is also a more natural explanation to the doggo-stick romance. And that leads us all the way back when dogs were wild and untamed. In their natural habitat, dogs would utilize sticks to sharpen their teeth and strengthen their jaws and gums. This practice survived to modern times and pet dogs – they will often chew on sticks and other hard things in order to keep their jaws trained and strong. If you don’t prefer your pupper to chew on dirty ol’ sticks, you can find plenty of specially designed dog toys that will train their jaws and teeth in the same way.

Puppies and young dogs will also have a tendency to vigorously chew on sticks and other things. The reason here is similar: at this age, their teeth are still emerging and forming up. They might cause the dog some small discomfort, which they would want to counter and remedy by chewing away at a stick – or anything else for that matter. You can also help them by providing adequate toys.

It might be best if you prevent your dog from chewing on sticks altogether. Occasional fetch and simple play can be ok – but vigorous chewing for hours on end is not OK. This is due to the fact that a stick that has been chewed for long will produce dangerous splinters and slivers, which your dog can swallow. On the other hand, a slimy stick covered in drool cannot be good – it can develop bacterias that you would want your dog to ingest. Also, some sticks can be covered with harmful material, such as pesticides and the like. A stick from a forest and a stick from a lawn by the side of the road are usually not the same.

All in all, you want to pay attention to your dog’s behavior at all times. A bit of harmless fetch with a stick is not to be discouraged, but do make sure to take that stick away once the chewing becomes vigorous. Instead, apply positive reinforcement and offer special chewing toys in order to provide a healthier exercise for your dog’s jaws.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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