My Dog Ate Wood [What To Do? Any Harm?]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Your dog ate wood and now you need some information and advice on the health implications?

My dog Molly has started chewing on wood, and it’s worrying me.

In this post, I’ll give more details about symptoms, steps to take, and prevention methods.

Let’s dive in together.

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Is It Safe For My Dog to Eat Wood?

Is Chewing Wood Dangerous to Dogs

No, it is not safe for your dog to eat wood.

Sharp edges of wood can injure a dog’s mouth, throat, and intestines, requiring urgent vet care.

Intestinal blockages in dogs are another of my big concerns.

If wood gets stuck in your dog’s digestive tract, it can prevent food and waste from passing through normally. 

And that’s not all of it! 

If your pet happens to eat wood that has been treated with chemicals like pesticides or wood lacquer, it could be in grave danger.

These chemicals are not safe for dogs and can potentially cause poisoning or other adverse effects. 

Doggy says, consider reading this too: Dog ate a popsicle stick

What Happens If a Dog Eats Wood? 5 Health Implications/Risks

What Are the Risks Associated With a dog Eating Wood

Knowing the risks of eating wood helps you protect your dog.

It can help you be prepared and know the next steps to take to ensure the safety of your furry pal.

1. Choking hazard

If your pet swallows a large chunk of wood, or numerous small pieces, it can cause them to choke.

The wood can get lodged in the throat or esophagus and potentially block the airway (you might hear your dog panting and wheezing).

This is a serious problem that requires IMMEDIATE medical attention.

2. Puncture hazard

The sharp edges or splinters can leave puncture wounds in a dog’s mouth, gums, tongue, or digestive tract.

This can lead to pain, bleeding, and if left untreated, potential infections or peritonitis.

3. Intestinal Blockage

Swallowing wood can also lead to blockages in the digestive tract of your pet.

When this happens, you will tend to notice symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain or bloating
  • Dehydration
  • Whining or signs of distress
  • Changes in behavior, such as lethargy or aggression
  • Difficulty defecating or producing small amounts of feces
  • Hunched back posture due to discomfort

4. Digestive issues

Wood is hard to digest, which is why eating it can cause your pet stomach problems. 

The wood can irritate the lining of your pup’s gastrointestinal lining and lead to vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal discomfort.

5. Irritation

Wood can also irritate the mouth, gums, and tongue of your pet.

The splinters and rough surfaces of the wood pieces may leave abrasions or small cuts. 

Having these tiny wounds can be irritating and uncomfortable for your pet.

Plus, they can get infected and lead to more serious issues.

Doggy says, you might wanna read this too: my dog ate mulch and is throwing up

How Much Wood is Dangerous to Dogs?

Well, there isn’t any specific amount of wood that is deemed safe or dangerous for dogs, as it depends on factors such as the size of the dog, the size and type of wood, and the shape of the pieces ingested.

The thing is, even small amounts of wood can be harmful, and there is always a risk of choking, intestinal blockage, or internal injury from splinters, regardless of the quantity consumed.

So the best thing you can do is to totally avoid letting your dog get into this prickly situation.

Why Did My Dog Eat Wood? 7 Reasons

Why Did My Dog Eat Wood

Our pets have curious and sometimes quirky habits, and chomping on different things is no exception. 

It’s not uncommon for dog parents to find their pets chewing on chair legs, table edges, or even sticks during outdoor playtime. 

Totally harmless, right? Well, not exactly. While it may seem harmless, this habit can potentially lead to problems.

But why do they do that? 

1. Boredom/lack of exercise and mental stimulation

Like us, dogs can get bored too.

If they’re cooped up inside the house with nothing to do, they may resort to chewing on things to alleviate that boredom.

Chomping on wood could be an outlet for their pent-up energy. 

2. Teething

Puppies go through a teething phase that can cause discomfort in their gums.

They may experience itchiness or soreness as their new teeth start to pop out. 

This discomfort can lead them to find relief by chewing on objects around them, such as wood.

Doggy says, you might be interested to read this too: My dog ate a whole bag of Greenies!

3. Exploration

You know how curious dogs can be, right?

They love to explore their surroundings with their mouths, just like babies do. 

So, when they come across a piece of wood, it might catch their attention.

They may end up accidentally or even intentionally ingesting it while they’re checking things out. 

Doggy says, you might be interested to read this too: Corgi not eating?

4. Nutritional deficiencies

Wood munchies or nutritional cravings?

It may sound strange, but some dogs may actually eat wood because they’re seeking essential nutrients like fiber or minerals that might be lacking in their diet.

This feeling is similar to when we crave certain food because our bodies are in need of specific nutrients.

Our pets may then explore unconventional sources like wood due to nutritional deficiencies.

This problem can be easily avoided by ensuring our dogs get a balanced diet, such as the one from Ollie fresh dog food. This is what I give my dogs now and they love it!

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Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Dog ate wax paper

5. Anxiety and stress

Everybody gets stressed, even dogs!

And when dogs are stressed, they may resort to destructive behaviors, like chewing on wood.

This coping mechanism is quite similar to how some people fidget or bite their nails when they’re stressed. 

Plus, the crunchy sound of the wood, as they bite on it, can serve as a distraction.

This can be comforting for them in stressful situations.

6. Attention-seeking

Since our pets can’t really speak and tell us, “Hey, look at me!” or “Play with me!”, they may resort to chewing on wood to catch our attention.

It’s their way of trying to engage with their human and get some form of reaction. 

7. Medical conditions

Some dogs may end up eating wood due to an underlying medical issue. 

One example of this is Pica. It is an illness where dogs feel the urge to eat non-food items, including paper, leather, and even wood. 

Additionally, certain gastrointestinal disorders or metabolic imbalances can also lead to wood ingestion. 

Immediate First Aid for Dogs After Ingesting Wood

If you suspect your dog has ingested wood, you need to act swiftly.

Before you can get professional help, there are some first-aid steps you can take.

  1. Remove any remaining wood pieces from your dog’s reach immediately.
  2. Check your dog’s mouth for splinters or stuck pieces and gently remove them if possible.
  3. If your dog is choking, use the Heimlich maneuver for dogs, but only if you’re trained to do so.
  4. Offer water to help soothe any throat irritation but avoid feeding until you’ve consulted with a vet, as food may exacerbate the blockage.

What Should I Do if My Dog Ate Wood? 5 Key Points To Remember

Now that you know the dangers of eating wood, let’s look into what you should do if you catch your furry friend munching on a furniture leg or a fallen branch.

Monitor your dog for signs of distress

Keep a close eye on your pet to see if the unfortunate snacking has any negative effect on them.

If they’ve only eaten a small piece, it is possible for them to poop it out without any issues. 

However, if you notice any signs of distress, call your pet’s vet ASAP.

Watch out for vomiting, choking, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, or lethargy.

Also, take note of any changes in appetite or behavior.

If your pet suddenly stops eating or becomes aggressive, they could be having an adverse reaction to the wood they ate.

Provide your dog with plenty of water

The best thing for a pup to do after eating something unsavory is to flush it out of its system.

Offering your pet lots of water will help this process along. 

Plus, water can prevent the wood from causing blockages.

Encourage your pet to drink. However, do not force them to do so. 

Keeping hydrated will also prevent dehydration if your pet is experiencing other symptoms like vomiting.

Do not induce vomiting (unless advised by a vet)

Making your pet vomit may seem logical. If the wood is out of their system, it can’t harm them, right?

Nope. Some wood can splinter or cause complications when regurgitated. This can potentially cause more harm to your pet. 

This is why inducing vomiting should only be done if your pet’s vet tells you to do so.

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Temporarily stop feeding

Giving your dog’s digestive system a break can be very beneficial after they’ve ingested wood. 

By temporarily stopping their food intake, you can prevent any blockages and further irritation.

However, just like with any step here, you need to get the go-ahead of your pet’s vet before withholding food.

Contact your veterinarian

If you’re still worried about your furry pal or have observed any concerning symptoms, do not hesitate to call the vet.

They can check if your pup needs to be brought in for any procedure. 

How to Prevent My Dog From Eating Wood?

From splinter hazards to digestive issues, safeguarding your dog from wood munching can save them from unnecessary risks and trips to the vet!

Here are some practical tips to keep your pet away from wood.

Keeping loose wood out of reach

One of the best ways to prevent your dog from eating wood is to keep it out of their reach. If they can’t get to it, they won’t be able to eat it.

Keep loose wood, such as sticks, twigs, or small wood chips, away from your pet. 

Regularly check your yard, home, and any areas your dog has access to for any wood debris and promptly remove it to prevent your dog from getting their paws on it.

Use dog-friendly chew toys

Providing your furry pal with safe and appropriate chew toys can help redirect their chewing behavior away from wood. 

Look for dog-friendly chew toys made of durable materials that are specifically designed for chewing.

These toys can keep your dog entertained and engaged while satisfying their natural urge to chew without the risks associated with wood ingestion.

Train your dog

Training your dog to have good chewing habits can be a helpful way to prevent them from eating wood. 

Teach your dog basic obedience commands, such as “leave it” or “drop it.” Remember positive reinforcement? Don’t forget to reward them when they obey! 

Consistent training can help reinforce positive behaviors and discourage your dog from chewing on wood or other inappropriate objects.

Supervise your dog

Keeping a close eye on your dog when they’re out and about can help prevent them from snacking on wood. 

If you see them going for something they shouldn’t, immediately redirect their attention to a more appropriate chew toy or object.

Keep your home clean

Finally, keeping your home clean and debris-free can also help prevent your dog from eating wood. 

Make sure to sweep up any wood shavings or pieces lying around. Keep your floors and furniture clean to discourage your dog from snacking on them.

My Dog Ate Wood Chips and is Throwing Up

Uh-oh! If your furry friend is throwing up wood chips, it could escalate to become something serious.

Here are the potential dangers:

  1. Obstruction: Wood chips can cause an obstruction in the digestive tract, especially if they are large or the dog has swallowed many of them. Obstructions can be life-threatening and usually require surgery to resolve. Symptoms of an obstruction include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and possibly diarrhea.
  2. Perforation: Sharp pieces of wood can cause damage to the dog’s mouth, esophagus, stomach, or intestines, potentially leading to a perforation. This is a very serious condition that can lead to infection and other complications.
  3. Gastroenteritis: The ingestion of wood chips can irritate the stomach and intestines, causing inflammation (gastroenteritis). This can result in vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.
  4. Toxicity: Some types of wood can be toxic to dogs. For example, black walnut wood can cause tremors and other neurological symptoms in dogs. Additionally, wood chips that have been treated with chemicals or pesticides can also be toxic.

I would strongly advise you to bring your dog to the vet in this case to run some scans and checks.

You really don’t want anything lodged inside to cause further damage.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Alternatives to Greenies dental chews

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can eating wood cause dental problems in dogs?

Yes, eating wood can potentially harm your dog’s teeth. If the wood is hard or splintered, it can break your pet’s teeth or irritate their gums. Plus, chewing on wood excessively can also wear down their teeth over time. 

Can small pieces of wood pass through a dog’s digestive system?

Yes, small pieces of wood can usually pass through the dog’s digestive system. However, even small wood pieces can be dangerous, especially if they have sharp edges. These can leave cuts or abrasions on your pet’s mouth, throat, and digestive system. They can also cause blockages. 

Is it safe for my dog to eat bark from trees?

No, you should not allow your dog to eat bark from trees. Bark can be difficult to digest and may cause digestive problems like vomiting, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal irritation. 

Can eating wood cause anemia in dogs?

Eating wood by itself is unlikely to cause anemia in dogs. But if the wood is contaminated with toxic substances, it can harm their liver or other organs, which can then affect their overall health, including their blood cell count.

Can eating wood cause diarrhea in dogs?

Yes, eating wood can cause diarrhea in dogs. It can also lead to other gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting or potential obstruction. If your dog has eaten wood and is experiencing diarrhea, consult a veterinarian.

In Conclusion: My Dog Ate Wood

So, folks, remember: wood doesn’t make for a tasty treat, no matter what Ruff thinks!

Stay vigilant, keep those chewy toys at hand, and make sure they get a great diet.

After all, a well-fed dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog makes for a tail-waggingly great companion. Until next time, woof and out!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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