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Dog Chewing Wood: Nutrient Deficiency or Worse?

Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon.

There must be a switch inside of some dogs that makes them go bonkers once they see wood.

And that wood comes in many shapes and sizes.

Sticks, driftwood, bark, wood chips, heck some dogs even chew wooden furniture.

Well, to be fair, furniture is a top contender among all dogs regardless of material.

And for some special individuals out there, swallowing stuff doesn’t end with wood (or furniture).

Instead, they eat anything and everything. There’s even a term for this – Pica.

If you feel like your dog might suffer from this condition, consult a vet if it’s serious.

Dog enjoys chewing wood.
Photo by ohmmzz on Shutterstock

Puppies often eat stones or other non-food items from the yard.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with them.

For now, let’s dive into eating wood and how it commonly relates to nutrient deficiency in dogs.

A dog chewing non-food items might just be a symptom, but just chewing wood can also become a dangerous habit.

Dog Chewing Wood Nutrient Deficiency

Dogs who excessively chew wood might suffer from nutrient deficiency caused by a lack of access to fresh nutrients, inappropriate amounts, or by a refusal to eat due to excitement.

A dog chewing on wood can have other causes such as stomach upset, dental pain, learned behavior, curiosity, or overexcitement.

However, more often than not, a nutrient deficiency is the reason for your dog’s love for wood.

Nova Scotia balances a thick branch in their mouth surrounded by trees and with muddy paws.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

To find out whether your dog chews due to a lack of nutrients, it’s essential to review their daily feeding habit and the quality of their food.

Monitor your dog’s food intake with a food schedule.

With a proper schedule, you’ll know exactly how much your dog ate and when he ate it.

Feeding your dog twice per day is recommended for most.

Puppies, seniors, and dogs with stomach issues or other illnesses might require three feedings per day.

Feeding dogs once per day is controversial for some and while it’s not necessarily bad, it probably isn’t right if nutrient deficiency is on the table.

Just stick to feeding your dog twice per day at roughly the same time (morning and evening).

Now, the quality of the diet is crucial.

I transitioned my dog to a raw diet early on.

Not only does she seem more active, but she poops less frequently with a firmer texture, farts don’t smell, her coat is shinier, and she seems to eat less grass.

That’s another thing, your dog might not eat wood due to a nutrient deficiency, but due to a lack of water if they chew on damp wood.

If you determine that it’s not the diet itself, maybe your dog isn’t eating due to external circumstances.

Dogs often suffer from nutrient deficiencies and stick to wood for a variety of reasons:

  • Boredom with current food (i.e. stale kibble or picky eaters in general)
  • Overexcitement
  • Anxiety
  • Change of environment (going on trips, moving homes, etc.)
  • Not used to proper feedings (rescues)

Overexcitement can be kept at bay by establishing some obedience training and impulse control.

Some dogs are just easily excitable though (my Rottie certainly is).

If your dog is suffering from anxiety, especially separation anxiety, it’s time to start training and consult your vet if the nutrient deficiency is serious.

Rescues may need time until they eat properly, don’t rush the process but keep the feeding schedule consistent.

To summarize: Make sure your dog eats a healthy diet twice a day with appropriate amounts, rule out external causes of nutrient deficiency, and rule out medical issues.

Why Is My Dog Eating Wood All Of A Sudden?

Dogs often eat wood due to nutrient deficiencies, mental issues such as boredom, anxiety, and overexcitement, or because they have medical issues like an upset stomach or dental pain.

First, rule out nutrient deficiencies by examining your dog’s food intake as well as the overall quality of the diet.

If you decide your dog eats the proper amount and dines properly twice a day, rule out behavioral and mental problems.

Dogs often chew on wood because they’re simply bored, anxious, or overexcited.

If your dog is bored, adjust their exercise (don’t forget mental exercise).

Anxious dogs often chew wood when left alone so make sure to train your dog to avoid separation anxiety and remove access to wood inside the house.

Overexcitement is common too but usually not if the chewing is prolonged and your dog seems obsessed.

My Rottweiler is the first to chew a stick or pick up wood chips in a flurry of excitement.

Also, rule out other medical issues, especially if your dog is otherwise behaving strangely or is lethargic.

No matter why your dog is eating wood all of a sudden, make sure to introduce an “Out!” command and use it whenever you see your dog abusing wood with their chompers.

Wood can always splinter and despite being a natural material, it doesn’t dissolve in the stomach.

My Dog Ate Wood Chips And Is Throwing Up

Dogs who ate wood chips and are throwing up may require a vet visit, especially if they vomit continuously, seem extremely exhausted, grasp for air, or if there’s blood.

The vomit color actually tells you quite a lot about your dog’s condition.

Vomiting white foam is totally different compared to vomiting blood.

Whether or not you saw your dog ingesting the wood is also crucial.

If it were just a couple of pieces of wood chips and your dog is coughing them up right after, it’s usually nothing to worry about.

However, always get your dog to spit the wood out if possible.

Even the smallest wood chip can cause emergencies if ingested since they might splinter and hurt your dog’s stomach.

Examine your dog’s mouth and throat and make an appointment with your vet if you’re unsure.

My Rottweiler actually chewed a stick as a pup and part of it was lodged horizontally between her back teeth, causing her to cough violently.

We managed to get it out with a glove and a flashlight but if not or if she would’ve continued to cough, an emergency vet visit would be a sure thing.

After we pulled the wood out, she went right back to trying to pick up a stick.

So always be vigilant, our furry friends don’t come with the strongest sense of self-preservation.

Even nature’s own product can be dangerous.

Dog Ate Wood Now Coughing

If your dog ate wood and is coughing you need to closely monitor the coughing and check whether or not your dog struggles with air supply.

Your dog might’ve swallowed a piece and it didn’t go down well or something may still be stuck in the throat.

Usually, it’s solved on its own as small pieces of wood may just irritate your dog’s throat but coughing repeatedly for minutes means your dog may be struggling to breathe.

Why Does My Dog Eat Rotten Wood

Dogs often eat rotten wood just because they like the unique, moist texture and find the smell caused by fungi interesting.

Wood that’s not just damp but truly rotten should definitely not be ingested or picked up by dogs.

The fungi may have attracted other forest inhabitants or microorganisms too.

If the wood is just a bit wet, chances are slim it’s dangerously infested but better safe than sorry.

Also, the fact that it’s damp or even wet won’t make it easier for your dog to digest.

On the contrary, rotten wood may splinter and while the edges are not as sharp, it’d still be a health hazard.

How To Stop Dog From Chewing Wood

You can stop your dog from chewing wood by removing access to the tempting wood, introducing an “Out!” command, or making a dog-safe homemade spray.

When out and about, monitor what your dog picks up and consider using a mesh muzzle.

If you’re talking about your own backyard, change the landscape so your dog doesn’t have access to wood chips or anything like that (no stones either).

Dogs who chew wood furniture might require more training on how to behave inside the house.

A lack of exercise or nutrient deficiencies definitely contribute to your dog chewing wood.

Lastly, a homemade spray can help with stopping your dog from chewing wooden stuff inside your house.

However, you need to make sure it’s safe for your dog if he decides to lick or ingest it nonetheless.

Essential oils can be great and there are loads of recipes. Read up about the specific essential oils to make sure they’re safe and test how your dog reacts to them.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.


Wednesday 25th of January 2023

My lab mis has been chewing outside wood and this just started last week. Inside wood, like chairs. I've had to toss two. It's like she is being a puppy all over again


Thursday 26th of January 2023

Hi Carol, you might want to look into behavioral causes of the sudden chewing (i.e. traumatic events, separation anxiety, change in environment). If you can't find any reason for this behavior, look into health issues (i.e. teeth, stomach, nutrient deficiency, etc. etc.).

Hope that helps, Danielle