Does your dog enjoy the musky, earthy taste of a stick every now and then? It’s nothing to worry about, this is a very common ‘hobby’ amongst the dog community. My golden retrievers have a love of sticks. On walks, they can spot a stick and would carry the biggest stick throughout our walk.
What are the most common reasons that they do this and can it cause any harm? What great alternative sticks are safe for dogs to chew and play with?
Why Do Dogs Love Sticks?
Here are some common reasons why a dog loves sticks and what medical conditions to be concerned about if your dog has an obsession with sticks.
5 Reasons: Why Is My Dog So Obsessed With Sticks?
1. Sticks Are FUN Toys
From your dog’s perspective, sticks are great toys to chew. A stick is a nature’s dog toy; it’s free and the perfect size to chew but it is not safe.
2. Sticks Resemble Bones
One of the main reasons why dogs enjoy chewing sticks is quite straightforward; sticks look like bones. Don’t be fooled though, your dog does actually know the difference between a stick and a bone, next to the earthy taste, which they are a fan of, the stick is easier to chew and that’s why they enjoy it.
3. Chewing is a Natural Dog Behavior and Stress Reliever
Let’s face it, dogs love chewing things (and destroying them); whether it’s your favorite pair of shoes, your sock, or a stick. You might have noticed your dog chewing on sticks when it was a pup. The reason for this is that when young dogs are teething, the soft texture of a stick is perfect. Did you know that chewing is actually a big stress reliever for most dogs?
4. Picking Up Sticks Heightens Your Dogs’ Natural Instincts
As cuddly and fuzzy as they might be, dogs are hunters at heart. It is not just chewing the stick that is the enjoyable part but fetching it, finding it, searching for it, and eventually claiming it gives them a certain excitement. Of course, once they capture a stick they will definitely chew it; which is part of the thrill.
5. Sticks Smell, Texture and Taste
Dogs have an excellent sense of smell and love to sniff. A stick smells interesting for your dog. The musky and earthy smell of a stick attracts your dog to pick it up and chew. The texture of the stick is also appealing to your dog (plus no sticks are alike). Also, the sponge-like texture of the wood of a stick is perfect for your dog to chew on.
Are Sticks Dangerous For Dogs?
To all dog owners, be responsible when your furry friend loves to pick up, play and chew sticks. Stick injuries in dogs are common and due to chewing and a splinter left behind in your dog’s mouth.
3 Ways A Stick Can Harm Your Dog
1. Sticks are harmful to your dog and some sticks from fruit trees like walnut and black cherry trees are toxic to dogs and can have life-threatening effects on your dog’s health.
Here’s a fun fact: A stick from a white willow bark is non-toxic for dogs, and under veterinary supervision, it can provide your dog with a natural pain reliever and prevent blood clots.
2. When your dog picks up and plays with a stick, make sure to examine your dog’s mouth for splinters; these can get stuck in your dog’s gums or teeth and can cause tearing in their esophagus. Many say that a giant stick, the less of a chance to get stuck in your dog’s throat. However, no matter the size of the stick your dog is playing with, always check as it has the potential to damage your dog’s teeth.
3. Ingesting pieces of the stick is another common occurrence and can cause a blockage in your dog’s throat, and damage to your dog’s mouth and digestive tract. To avoid any life-threatening condition, the best thing is to take your dog to the vet immediately.
How Can Your Dog Safely Play With Sticks?
If you are worried your dog will get seriously injured playing with a stick, there are fun alternatives to spoil your dog with toys that resemble a stick.
Safe Sticks For Your Dog To Play and Chew
1. Tall Tails
Floating Rubber Stick Toy
This stick toy is 12 inches and made of flexible and rugged natural rubber. The natural shape offers fun bounces. A perfect stick toy for dogs that love to play fetch and enjoy some water fun. This stick features grooves where you can spread tasty treats and use them as an enrichment dog toy and promotes dental and gum disease. Plus, you can easily clean this stick dog toy in the dishwasher.
Chuckit! Breathe Right Stick Dog Toy
This stick dog toy is made with dog-safe plastic that can withstand fun chewing. It has a unique hollow design that facilitates airflow and allows your dog to breathe easily while carrying the toy. The breathable feature allows for an amazing bounce where your dog can enjoy a longer game of fetch (your dog won’t get tired easily) and even run farther. This stick dog toy also floats for fun swim fetch play. Also, the unique design allows you to use it as an enrichment treat stick toy. Keep your dog occupied and engaged by stuffing it with treats.
Ultra Fetch Stick Dog Toy
This fun stick dog toy is made with the same material as the Chuckit! Ultra Ball; natural, high-bounce rubber. The bright color makes it easy for your dog to spot during land and water fetch play. For a free-slobber pickup, this stick is compatible with the Chuckit! RingChaser Launcher
4. Barkshop (BARK by BarkBox)
Soft Dog Stick Toy
One of KORU BEAR’s favorite stuffie dog stick from his BarkBox. KORU BEAR is your typical golden retriever dog that loves to carry something on his daily walks. This durable BARK stick toy is soft and light. Unfortunately, this stick dog toy is no longer available for purchase.
Stick toys guarantee to give your dog enjoyment plus being part of your dog’s stick play will definitely strengthen your bond and love for one another.
To All Pet Owners: Keep in mind that every dog plays differently. It is important to keep a close watch on your dog’s stick plays. Keep your dog safe as no dog chew toys are really indestructible. It is a good idea to take away and discard the toy when pieces begin to break off.
Safe Chewing Alternatives – Bully Stick Dog Chews
Bully Sticks are safe and tasty dog chews for your dog to chew. What makes a bully stick a “good stick”? A bully stick is fully digestible and rich in protein. One of my dog’s favorite bully sticks is from Redbarn.
A Reminder to All Dog Parents: You must supervise your dog when giving them a bully stick. A bully stick can cause gastrointestinal issues and if your dog swallows large pieces of the bully stick, they could experience blockages. One reason, I use a bully stick holder Bow Wow Labs Bully Buddy Safety Device.
To Sum Up: Why Do Dogs Like Sticks?
Sticks provide an opportunity for dogs to fulfill their natural chewing instincts. Chewing is a great way for dogs to relieve stress and burn off extra energy, and sticks can provide a satisfying chew toy. Additionally, sticks offer dogs a chance to explore their environment and use their fantastic sense of smell to sniff out interesting things. However, there are dangers associated with dogs chewing on sticks. The biggest danger is that a stick can splinter and cause injuries to your dog’s mouth or throat. Additionally, sticks can be toxic or contaminated with bacteria or other harmful substances, which can make your dog sick. Finally, if your dog swallows small pieces of sticks, it can pose a choking hazard. For safety, it is best to keep your dog away from sticks.
we have da kong sticks, that’s better for us two terminators ;O)
this was really great information, I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know some of the dangers of sticks. Thanks for pointing that out!
BO likes to pick up sticks on our hikes and have to be extra careful as it can be poisonous. We have to check out the stick toys. Woofs to you KB