It is very common to see dogs chew on wood, and there are various reasons for this behavior.
Puppies initially chew to minimize the pain from teething as their new, adult teeth begin to grow in. They can see wood as a good outlet for their pain as something hard and firm to chew on.
In other cases, chewing could be a route to exploration or as a coping mechanism for separation anxiety. There are many explanations for why dogs chew on wood and picking the right type of wood for your dog to chew is important!
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- Is Wood A Good Option For Dogs To Chew On?
- What Are The Best Alternatives To Wood?
- Less Popular Options
- Options that are Not Recommended
- In Conclusion
However, you must think twice before using wood as their chew toy. Although wood is literally everywhere and therefore a cheap option to entertain your dogs with, the wrong type of wood is likely going to do more harm than good.
There are several reasons for this:
- Many different types of wood that dogs chew come from toxic trees like black cherry, apple, walnut, white cedar, Australian pine and yew trees. Consuming large quantities of wood from cherry or apple trees is toxic to dogs and can lead to cyanide poisoning.
- Some kinds of wood can splinter easily, and these small pieces can get stuck in the dog’s mouth. This can damage their gums and cheeks or prevent them from closing their mouth.
If the dog ingests these fragments, it can lead to choking or deal significant damage to their digestive tract.
- The wood may be treated with poisonous chemicals such as insecticides or contain harmful bacteria or bugs.
Accidents or injuries that happen when dogs chew on wood often have to be treated with expensive treatments and medication. At the end of the day, it is better to be safe than sorry and having to pay hundreds or thousands in vet bills to save your pet dog.
Stop your dogs chewing on sticks by keeping your yard clear, cutting foliage and training your dog so that they get a reward for dropping the stick.
You could train your dog by praising them when they chew on a safer object. You may also stop using sticks as fetch toys as it could enhance their desire to chew on sticks.
A much better alternative for dog owners is to use wooden chew toys.
Many wood-like dog toys have the irresistible natural wood flavor and texture without the negative consequences that come with natural pieces of wood.
An additional benefit is that the textured pattern that many toys have helps to clean their teeth and freshen their breath.
There are many different wood chew toys that come in all shapes and sizes, and knowing which one to choose from can be difficult.
Below are the TOP 3 recommended wood-like products that dogs love:
*RECOMMENDED FOR AGGRESSIVE CHEWERS*
Made of compressed sawdust and polypropylene, the Dogwood feels like Nylabone, a hard material made out of plastic, nylon and rubber. This is one of the most dog-safe options out there, provided that it is chewed under supervision (as all chew toys should be!).
- Closely resembles and smells like a real wooden stick.
- None of the side effects that comes with real wood such as splinters.
- Tough, non-toxic, lead and phthalate-free.
- Available in Mesquite flavor which is like BBQ.
- Mild smell unless you put it under your nose.
- Difficult to mark the toy.
- Range of sizes.
- Good for fetching and training as it floats and does not get dirty easily.
- After it wears down, small pieces of material will fall off and your dog may ingest it.
- Always monitor the condition of the toy and remove it when it has deteriorated too much.
Here is our 3 month old puppy Ollie giving his Dogwood a good chew:
Ollie does love the Dogwood, and I have a feeling it is due to the way it feels when he chews on it. It is hard enough on the surface but with just the right amount of give . We often hear him chewing on it early in the mornings when it is still dark outside.
Anything that entertains him enough to keep to himself during the early hours gets the five-star stamp of approval from me!
*SUITABLE FOR LIGHT TO MODERATE CHEWERS*
Made from polypropylene and sawdust, the Ruffwood combines real wood with synthetic material to make it stronger and more durable than natural wood.
- Similar texture and flavor to wood. Has a woody smell that is only noticeable if it is directly under your nose.
- Does not splinter.
- Various sizes to suit your dog.
- Floats on water and can be used as a fetch toy.
- Harmless sawdust particles will fall off the toy after being chewed. A bit of cleaning will be necessary but it will still make less of a mess than actual wooden sticks.
- The uneven texture makes it more prone to dirt and scuffs. Can be difficult to clean.
- Not suitable for aggressive chewers.
*SUITABLE FOR LIGHT TO MODERATE CHEWERS, DOGS THAT PRODUCE A LOT OF SALIVA and OWNERS WHO PREFER 100% WOOD*
Safe and strong, dogs love this toy that is made of real wood. Even better, it doesn’t crack or splinter due to the type of wood it is made from.
- Durable and safe.
- Made from 100% natural, non-toxic Java wood.
- Does not splinter or stain.
- Unique shape, weight, color, sizes with no pointed edges.
- Hard but a mark will appear if you put your fingernail into it.
- The wood softens from the dog’s saliva and will harden again after it dries.
- Squishy, soft balls of wood can be taken off when it is wet. This can make quite a big mess.
- The toy can smell bad when it is wet with saliva.
- Not suitable for aggressive chewers as small pieces of sharp wood can be removed when it is dry.
- 100% Maplewood sourced and made in the USA.
- The Y-shaped edges makes it easier for dogs to hold onto and chew.
- Slight Maplewood smell but not easily noticeable.
- Available as a bacon flavored nylon chew toy.
- Durable and doesn’t break or splinter.
- No wooden scent (though this can make it less attractive to dogs.
- Designed to be like a real stick.
- Available in Maple bacon flavor.
- Prone to forming sharp points after the bark is peeled away.
- 100% natural wood and free from harmful substances like chemicals, phthalates, lead, plastic and so on.
- Lightweight so it is more suited for smaller dogs.
- As it is made from 100% natural wood, it is more likely to create splinters than the previously mentioned products.
- Not suited for aggressive chewers as it is less durable. Chunks of wood can come off when it is chewed aggressively.
- Durable due to dense material.
- Made from sustainably-harvested natural wood.
- The rope can floss dogs’ teeth.
- Suitable for independent play or interactive games like tug-of-war.
- The rope is very dangerous as it is more likely to cause more severe respiratory or digestive problems when ingested than wooden toys.
- Bad smell when wet.
- Messy as pieces of rope and wood will come off over time.
Wooden chew toys should be only provided under supervised conditions. The toy should be large enough so your dog can not swallow it when chewing. Once the toy breaks down to a size that they can ingest, discard it and replace with a new toy.
Although wooden sticks are everywhere and cost little to nothing, various injuries to their respiratory tract, digestive tract and facial features could occur. As these could result in serious long-term damage to the health of your dog, it is best to avoid wooden sticks as much as you can.
A better alternative are wooden chew toys.
Petstages Dogwood, Petstages Ruffwood and Ware Gorilla Chew are three of the most suitable options for your dog.
The benefits of wood chew toys significantly outweigh the costs of using normal wood and can save you hundreds from having to go back and forth with your veterinarian.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.