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Help! My Dog is Eating Tree Bark

Brown and white dog standing on hind legs hugging a small tree

You might have witnessed your dog chewing on tree bark copiously while playing in the backyard. It may seem normal at first sight, but eating too much tree bark can prove hazardous for your dog’s health. Dogs, by instinct, are habitual of chewing on things and can have a nibble at all kinds of things. Therefore, if your dog is eating tree bark, you are not alone as this is a common problem in the canine world.

Chewing tree bark can damage your dog’s mouth and can lead to a situation where a root canal becomes inevitable. If ingested, tree bark can cause blockage in the dog’s digestive system, which is really painful. Similarly, if a large piece of wood is swallowed, it can even choke your dog’s windpipe, making it hard to breathe. Moreover, some plant species are particularly toxic for canines, such as oak,  cherry, and peach trees. Read on to know why your canine friend eats tree bark and how you can curb this behavior.

Why is My Dog Eating Tree Bark?

You may find it strange but several solid reasons can make your dog eat tree bark. This natural behavior can get catalyzed if left unattended. Therefore, the need of the hour is to educate yourself on the rationales behind the canine chewing and stop them.

Your Dog Likes the Taste

Jack Russell Terrier sniffing the base of a tree

Some dogs simply find the tree bark tasty and enjoy it as a snack. A major part of tree bark is made up of cellulose. Some dog food manufacturers deliberately add this fiber to their products to help improve your dog’s digestion. Cellulose also helps in controlling your pooch’s appetite by keeping him/her full. All these things can create an obsession for eating tree barks among canines.

Anxiety and Boredom

Separation anxiety is a common problem among dogs. When dogs are left unattended for some time, they start feeling alone and anxious. One of their immediate reactions is to start chewing things because it helps them release their stress.

Boredom or lack of mental stimulation is also one of the major reasons for this behavior. When dogs sit idle for a long time, they start accumulating redundant energy and develop the urge to do something. Consequently, they resort to any random physical activity and chewing on tree bark can be one of them.   

Odontiasis

White puppy with a black nose gently biting someone's finger

Odontiasis, also known as teething, is one of the activities puppies experience when their teeth are about to grow. The growing of teeth causes itching and irritation in the gums. To alleviate their discomfort, they start chewing on things, like tree barks and other hard objects.

Pica

Pica is an obsessive-compulsive disorder in which eating non-food items becomes a compulsion. Pica can result from many factors like fear, boredom, and anxiety. Likewise, it can also be caused by medical problems, including anemia, diabetes, digestive problems, iron deficiency, hyperthyroidism, and tumors.

Pica can also happen if your pooch is facing nutritional problems. It happens when the food you are feeding your dog lacks essential nutrients, like fibers. To fill this gap, your dog may start eating tree bark.

What Can I Do if My Dog is Eating Tree Bark?

Hound with large stick in its mouth, outdoors in woods.

The following are some solutions that can help you control this irritating habit of your pup.

Remove All Tree Barks From Your Yard

The easiest way to prevent your dog from eating tree bark is to stop the supply. Keep your yard clean and trash all pieces of wood, log, and sticks you can find. Also, clean off any mulch accumulated on your lawn. However, it is much easier to say than do especially if you abide by a forest or countryside.

Even if you can’t do it to perfection, try to remove as much bark from your yard as possible. The more you can do, the better it is for you and your dog.

Provide Chew Toys

Puppies naturally chew on things while they are going through the phase of teething. Also, if you play fetch with your pup, chewing on objects is an inevitable habit. Hence, buying a suitable chew toy can stop your dog from eating tree bark. Remember that you are discouraging any association between wood and any wooden toy will invert the consequences, completely.

The toy you buy should be durable so that it doesn’t break into pieces and causes trouble (if ingested). Moreover, the size of the toy should be larger than your dog’s throat. Kong’s chewy with treat-dispensing sections can be a good choice.

Address Boredom

Border collie indoors and black ball in its mouth

It is important to address boredom in your dog through activities that provide good mental stimulation. Every dog requires at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily.

Take your dog on a walk every morning or play games that can help your pooch in utilizing the excess energy. Likewise, bring your dogs some entertaining toys that can keep him/her when you are away. Dog puzzles can be an excellent alternative for the mental stimulation of your pooch.

Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is the method of dog training in which you take some stern steps to help your dog avoid any behavior. This technique is often considered a last resort because of its impulsive methods, like spraying furniture or wooden objects with unpleasant sprays. You can also get a noisemaker that you can use to alert your pup when he is doing something wrong. A startling “no” can also be helpful when you catch your pup chewing inapt objects. These methods can be a bit itchy for dogs, but in some situations, they prove really helpful.

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