Dogs most likely like sticks because it is in their instincts. Still, there is no uniform answer for why dogs like sticks, as not every dog is the same. Before dogs were domesticated, they were different species of wolves and had to hunt for their food to stay alive. It was only through years of evolution that the dog breeds we know today came to be.
“Most common answer” doesn’t mean only answer, of course. In fact, while the reason could lie in your pup’s wild side, the interest in the stick may be entirely due to boredom. Every dog is different.
5 Reasons Why Dogs Like Sticks
- Your Dog’s Natural Instincts
- Your Dog Loves Toys
- Dental Problems
- Stress Reliever
Your Dog’s Natural Instincts
The natural instinct of animals runs so deep that not even the dozens of millennia of domestication can fully breed it out. While the dogs we see today may seem the furthest thing from the wild and majestic wolves you can find, the feral instincts of a dog are always just under the surface. Throwing a stick can trigger your dog’s hunting instinct. The movement will mimic potential prey and, if it’s a stick for example, a dog might chase after it. Chasing sticks may be an automatic reaction for some canines.
Your Dog Loves Toys
Dogs can be ultra-active animals that love to play and nothing is left out of the fun. Sticks are a common choice for dogs due to their accessibility. If you let your pup into the yard, there is bound to be a stick for the taking. If your pup comes across it and is in a playful mood. A new toy has been discovered, after all! Even if your dog has brought home countless sticks already, each one is special. You may find amusement in it yourself, throwing it repeatedly. Dogs will love the attention and fetch sticks until they grow bored.
If your dog can be found chewing on sticks more often than not, there may be something going on with teeth. If you are raising a puppy, they could be teething and looking for relief in the coarse texture. If your dog is older and teething isn’t likely, they may be experiencing sore gums. Take a minute to look at the condition of your dog’s teeth and gums. If you believe your dog has oral health and hygiene issues, you should contact a vet.
Sometimes, the love your dog seems to have for sticks may actually be stress-related. Stress in humans can show in many physical ways, including grinding teeth. The tension your dog may feel needs to be released on something. Thankfully, sticks happen to be accessible enough for them to use when needed. The coarse texture and durable wood will provide a solution to their problem, even if the solution is only temporary.
Pica, according to the Westpark Animal Hospital(3), is the consumption of items that are not deemed edible. This problem may stem from behavioral issues such as stress, anemia, malnutrition, liver disease, and parasites. Most commonly, they start with behavioral issues. Please note that the consumption of sticks is not good for your dog. If your dog is consuming the sticks they are biting on, correct the behavior accordingly. Provide them with another toy to enjoy.
Are Sticks Safe For Dogs To Chew On?
While your dog may find a passion for sticks, it is not safe for your dog to be chewing on them. Wood can lead to splinters that can get jammed into the roof of your dog’s mouth. If your dog developed a habit of swallowing wood pieces, it could potentially block either the throat or the digestive tract of your dog, requiring surgery and sometimes resulting in death. Offer your pup a new toy instead.
If you see your dog eat sticks and they begin to throw up, it is best to take your dog to the vet to be seen. There is no way to be sure if there is any blockage and if there is, you don’t want to waste any time. Some trees are poisonous to dogs, such as oak and American holly trees. 4
If you, for any reason, cannot take your dog to the vet, keep a close eye on your pup. If they are in obvious distress, you should take your dog to the animal hospital and ask about payment plans. If your dog seems okay after throwing up, it could have just been an upset stomach, but pay attention to your dog’s behavior to ensure it is nothing more serious.
5 Safe Stick Alternatives For Dogs
- Squeaky Toys
- Tennis Balls
- Dental Chew Sticks
Squeaky toys appeal to your dog’s carnivorous instinct. The squeaking is meant to mimic the sound of prey if the dog were to actually hunt. Squeaky toys are available in a ton of variations. Some are made to be more durable to withstand even the most hardcore chewer, while others are made lighter so even toy breeds can enjoy them.
Tennis balls are another means of keeping your pup entertained, and it is a relatively cheap way to do it. The price of tennis balls ranges based on the brand you purchase, but you can easily buy them in bulk for your furry friend. Tennis balls are also easy to grab and throw; just be prepared for slobbery hands!
Just like sticks, there are risks of injury associated with giving your dog a bone. Unlike sticks, however, there are nutrients that your dog can gain from chewing and eating bones. If you plan to give your furry friend a bone, be sure to watch them. You don’t want your dog to choke while you’re gone.
Dental Chew Sticks
Dental chew sticks are a great substitution for sticks as well. Most dental chews are tougher and require more chewing from dogs to get pieces of the treat to eat. Dental chew sticks are great for dogs because they help to keep plaque off your dog’s teeth. Keeping the plague away successfully combats bad breath and problems with your dog’s oral health.
Your dog might be bored overall and just need some extra attention and loving. If you think this is your pup’s problem, a healthy dose of belly rubs and a nice cuddle is required as a cure. After all, dogs only have a limited amount of things to entertain themselves with at will.
Conclusion to Why Dogs Like Sticks
Ranging from boredom to parasites, there could be any number of reasons your dog is chewing on sticks. Boredom is a big culprit for causing your dog’s adoration of sticks. Be sure to provide your dogs with the proper enrichments so they can entertain themselves. If that doesn’t solve your dog’s ailment, you may want to consult a vet. Remember to always do right by your dog; you are their everything.