It’s no secret that dogs are natural-born scavengers, and they’ll eat things most humans wouldn’t dare. From rotting food to excrement, nothing is off-limits for them.
Dogs’ diets can be a bit of a mystery at times, which is why it’s important to understand what exactly your dog might have eaten if you’re not sure.
One common item dogs accidentally ingest is wood slivers or splinters from furniture or floors in their environment.
- How Can My Dog Accidentally Eat Wood?
- Can A Dog's Stomach Digest Wood?
- What Does Wood Do To My Dog's Digestive System?
- Can Dogs Poop Out Wood?
- What Happens When Dogs Eat Wood?
- Signs That Your Dog Has Ingested Wood
- What To Do If Your Dog Ate Wood?
- How Can I Prevent My Dog From Ingesting Wood?
How Can My Dog Accidentally Eat Wood?
Many dogs chew on wood and/or furniture for a variety of reasons, including to relieve their own stress or anxiety or because they are teething.
If your dog is bored and not getting enough exercise outdoors, chewing may become habitual as an outlet to expend energy.
As for any accidental wood in the diet, if you notice a splinter your dog may have swallowed, rest assured that the worst-case scenario is having a few inches of digestive tract surgery to remove it.
But even so, there are steps you can take to help prevent any serious incidents (and expensive trips to the vet).
Can A Dog’s Stomach Digest Wood?
Surprisingly, yes! Your pup’s stomach is able to digest most types of wood, but they can become a problem when they’re too large or sharp.
Just like with humans, if your dog swallows some wood without chewing it down small enough, they could end up with a puncture in their intestinal tract or even peritonitis (an infection in the lining of the abdomen).
But can they digest splinters easily? The answer is not so straightforward…it depends on how long and big the sliver was.
If a dog ingested an inch-long piece of pencil thicker than half an inch, this would certainly lead to digestive problems. However, it’s unlikely that their body will be able to break down pieces as thin as a toothpick.
If your dog ingested wood shavings, they will most likely pass it just as they would with hair or fur.
If you are concerned about something more substantial like a 2-inch board, make sure to keep an eye on your pup’s stool for any evidence of the splinter after 24 hours.
As long as they aren’t vomiting and their stool is normal, there’s nothing to worry about (but you’ll definitely want to tell them “No” the next time they chew on furniture!).
What Does Wood Do To My Dog’s Digestive System?
As long as your dog isn’t eating toothpicks or sticks bigger than half an inch in diameter, there shouldn’t be any lasting damage done.
If your dog is eating small sticks or splinters that become lodged in their digestive tract, they can absolutely have problems with peritonitis (an inflammation of the abdominal lining) or even a puncture.
This complication must be treated by a vet immediately to prevent further issues and prolonged recovery time for your dog.
Another common side effect wood ingestion has on dogs (similar to what happens when you swallow it yourself) is constipation if they don’t chew it down properly and get it all out of their body within 24 hours.
Make sure to closely monitor your dog’s stool during this time frame so you can act quickly before it becomes an issue!
Can Dogs Poop Out Wood?
It isn’t uncommon to see small sticks and debris come out in your dog’s stool from time to time, but if you notice something unusual like wood waste, it’s important to seek medical attention for your pup.
Given that they eat things most of us would never think about eating, whether it be a bone or an old sock, imagine what their insides must look like!
It may not be as bad as it seems though, because many times dogs can simply pass this type of foreign matter without issue.
What Happens When Dogs Eat Wood?
Wood can be dangerous to dogs when ingested because of the splinters it produces.
The problem is that once a splinter or sliver gets into your dog’s stomach, they are not able to digest it – and if enough wood particles accumulate in the stomach, they will block digestion and could cause serious health complications.
A “wood blockage” (otherwise known as Gastric Foreign Body Syndrome) occurs when there’s an accumulation of undigested matter in the stomach from non-food items.
Because the digestive system is unable to break down these materials, food and fluids cannot make their way through the body causing vomiting, dehydration, and other potentially serious issues.
If left untreated for too long, gastric foreign bodies can also lead to bacterial infection – which is an especially dangerous and painful situation.
Signs That Your Dog Has Ingested Wood
Dogs have an amazing ability to eat things that would be considered inedible by humans (this may explain why some dogs’ food bowls are left untouched for days at a time).
As long as you aren’t seeing it on the carpet, there will be no telltale signs that your pet ate wood.
However, if they have ingested something larger than a toothpick (like a sliver of wood), the following symptoms may be present:
1.) Vomiting and/or Diarrhea
If your dog vomits or has diarrhea after chewing on an object that won’t break down in their digestive tract, this could mean they swallowed something either too large or sharp to digest.
2.) Abdominal Pain
This could mean your pup has some intestinal pain from either eating something too big or contracting peritonitis. These are both serious conditions that need immediate veterinary attention!
If you notice any signs of abdominal pain after your dog ingests wood, it’s best to visit their vet for a full diagnosis and treatment.
3.) Bloody Stool or Vomit
If your pup vomits up blood or has bloody stool (or just seems lethargic), this could mean they have internal bleeding from either chewing on something sharp.
This situation needs immediate attention! Take them to the vet right away for x-rays and medicine to treat internal bleeding – if left untreated, it can be fatal.
What To Do If Your Dog Ate Wood?
The first thing you should do when you see your dog has a piece of wood is to take note of how he’s behaving.
If he’s perfectly fine and acting like his normal self, then there shouldn’t be too much cause for concern.
However, if he appears uncomfortable or sickly in any way, such as with diarrhea or vomiting blood, or excessively drinking, his condition should be monitored closely.
Also, look for signs of stomach or abdominal pain on physical examination and if there is any constipation (which may indicate impaction).
If you notice symptoms like these, it’s best to bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible so they can examine him and give him the proper treatment – which may involve a course of antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications depending on what’s going on internally.
If he’s perfectly fine but still has an object in his mouth that you suspect could hurt him while swallowing it, take appropriate steps to remove it yourself.
You don’t want to cause unnecessary damage such as by twisting the object out because this might make things worse; rather, gently try to push it back down his throat and towards the stomach.
You may need to use your fingers, but avoid getting them in the throat because you don’t want to push them down further. If you can’t remove it, at least try taking him to see a vet.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Ingesting Wood?
Preventing your dog from chewing on wood or furniture is an important aspect of their health and well-being. You can do so by:
(1) Finding a chew toy they are interested in,
(2) Giving them plenty of exercises, and
(3) Making sure the amount of time that you leave your dog unattended is kept to a minimum.
It’s also good to keep an eye on any “foreign bodies” around your house that may be harmful to your pet. Typically dogs will eat things like rubber bands, paper clips, small toys, etc. – so it is imperative you watch them closely around clutter!
Unfortunately for us dog owners, preventing them from eating wood is an inevitability. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with helpful tips above on what to do if your dog has accidentally ingested a splinter!
So if your dog has an object lodged inside of his mouth or throat, take note of the situation and be aware that there are things you can do to treat your dog yourself should he swallow something dangerous like wood.
Just remember that if your dog is showing signs of being sick or not feeling well after eating wood, even if you’re able to get it out on your own, visit a veterinarian as soon as possible.