Why do dogs eat wood?

April 13, 2012

Dogs really do have some bizarre eating habits. These are intelligent creatures but they are less discriminating in what they eat. Dogs are voracious eaters. Some breeds can be “little ladies” when they eat but generally, a dog would wolf down the food. Dog experts tell us that eating fast is a dog thing that can be attributed to the scarcity of food when dogs live in the wild. Modern day domesticated dogs no longer need to forage for food. Meals are regularly provided by the owners. Still, if there is an opportunity dogs would still raid the trash can. A lot of owners are also concerned by the dog’s habit of eating non-edible things. Wouldn’t you be disconcerted if the pampered pet that is regularly fed with high quality dog food and provided with clean water would still lap at the water in the toilet bowl and eat poop?

Dogs would also eat mud, rocks, leaves and wood. This habit of eating non-edible things is called pica. Causes and reasons for pica is not really known though dog experts propose that this can be an attention getting behavior. A dog that is cooped in an apartment all day may think of gnawing the furniture and eating the wood to gain the attention of the master. The pet will be scolded but scolding is better than not getting any attention at all. The dog may be trying to fill up a nutrient deficiency when they eat wood. Dogs have instincts that are yet unexplained in spite of all the researches and studies conducted on dog behavior. The habit of eating wood may have been started when the puppy is teething. As the pup chewed on the wood it found out that the wood is “tasty” thus the wood eating habit was developed.

The wood eating habit of the dog must be stopped not only because it would be very expensive to buy new furniture or that the dog’s habit would mar the looks of the tree in the yard but because it can result to various medical problems. For one the dog can have splinters on the roof of the mouth, on the gums and on the tongue. In this case the dog will be off food. The wood can perforate the esophagus and the intestine. It can also create a blockage and result to various intestinal disorders. Naturally this would necessitate a surgical procedure. Moreover, a chemically treated wood once ingested can result to poisoning. These consequences apart from hurting the pocket can be very dangerous to the life of the pet.

So how would you stop your pet from eating wood? Dogs are pack animals. They are social creatures too. The family is considered as the dog’s “pack”. The dog will be confused, bored and lonely if it is constantly left alone by the pack. This boredom would result to unwanted behaviors. The dog would chew the furniture; eat the wood to attract your attention. Ensure that the pet is getting its required exercise. You may be very busy but a few minutes spent with the dog would count a lot and stop the dog form acting out. Chewing is a dog thing. Getting the dog toys and something to chew on would be a good idea. As mentioned, the dog may be eating wood because of a nutrient deficiency. Consider changing the diet of the pet and see what happens. Tabasco sauce or bitter apple smothered on the “tasty” wood may do the trick. But the best thing to curb the wood eating habit is to invest some time to watch the dog and every time it starts to gnaw on the wood say a firm NO! Dogs are intelligent animals. They also have the inherent desire to please the master. They would understand that eating wood is not a done thing. Reinforce your training with a sprayer filled with cold water. Every time the dog starts to eat the wood direct the cold water spray to its mouth. This would not hurt your pet and it will surely stop the dog from eating the wood.

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