Connect with us

Dog Family

Dog Chewing Wood Nutrient Deficiency: Diseases, Symptoms and Anaemia



Dog Chewing Wood Nutrient Deficiency: Diseases, Symptoms and Anaemia

If you own a dog that has developed a taste for wood, whether it be furniture legs, sticks from the yard, or logs from the fireplace, it’s essential to understand the potential nutritional causes behind this behavior. Dogs are known for their curious and explorative nature, which may sometimes lead them to chew on non-traditional objects including wood. Among the various reasons, a potential nutritional deficiency is one that shouldn’t be ignored.

“Chewing on wood may indicate that a dog is not getting enough essential nutrients from its regular diet.” – Unknown Veterinarian

This habitual gnawing can not only cause physical harm to your beloved pet but also indicate a possible health issue rooted in their diet. Let’s examine the correlation between dogs chewing on wood and potential nutrient deficiencies in their diet.

What are the common signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiency in dogs?

The signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiency in dogs can vary widely based on the specific nutrient that is lacking. However, there are some common signs that pet owners can watch for:

  • Lack of Appetite: If your dog suddenly loses interest in his regular meals, it could be because he’s not getting the essential nutrients he needs.
  • Weight Loss or Gain: Unexpected changes in weight can be a sign of nutrient deficiency, particularly if your dog is eating the same amount but losing or gaining weight.
  • Coat and Skin Issues: If your dog’s coat seems dull, dry, or brittle, or if his skin is flaky or irritated, he may be lacking vital nutrients necessary for skin and fur health.
  • Low Energy: Dogs who aren’t getting the right nutrients often have low energy levels and may sleep more or play less than usual.
  • Behavioral Changes: Dogs who are not well-nourished may exhibit signs of anxiety, depression, or even aggression.

One of the most notable behavioral changes related to nutrient deficiencies is the dog’s penchant for chewing non-food items, including wood. Why do some dogs develop this behavior?

Why dogs chew on wood: a sign of nutrient deficiency

Some dogs tend to chew on wood due to a condition known as ‘pica,’ which is the consumption of non-food items. It’s currently believed that dogs may develop pica due to nutrient deficiencies such as lack of dietary fiber or other essential nutrients. For instance, if a dog chews on wood, it might signal that the dog is after cellulose, a type of dietary fiber found in wood and plant materials.

However, it’s essential to remember that several other conditions or issues could trigger this behavior, including stress, boredom, and teething in puppies. Therefore, if a dog exhibits such behavior, it is advisable for the owner to consult with a veterinarian immediately.

In conclusion, it is important for pet owners to be watchful for any unusual behavior or signs that could indicate a potential nutrient deficiency in their dogs. Early recognition and intervention can prevent severe health complications.

What nutrients are essential for a dog’s overall health?

Just like humans, dogs require abalanced diet to thrive. Their diet should consist of the right balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Let’s examine each of these essential nutrients in detail.


Protein is a critical component of a dog’s diet and is essential for growth and development. It is the primary source of amino acids, which are necessary for the creation and repair of body tissues.


Fats are the most concentrated form of energy for dogs. Apart from providing energy, fats are necessary for the absorption of certain vitamins and serve as natural flavor enhancers to make the food more palatable.


While not a necessary component in a dog’s diet, carbohydrates provide a valuable energy source. Furthermore, carbohydrates contribute to intestinal health, as certain types of fibers can aid in digestion.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are essential for several body functions. They aid in biochemical reactions, maintain bone health, aid in wound healing, and support the immune system to name a few. However, an excessive amount of certain vitamins and minerals can be harmful, so they should be given in appropriate amounts.

What does wood-chewing indicate in dogs?

While occasional wood-chewing can be a normal behavior in dogs due to boredom or teething, consistent wood-chewing may indicate a nutrient deficiency. Dogs, especially puppies, might chew on wood due to the lack of certain nutrients in their diet or as a result of pica, a condition characterized by the consumption of non-food items. Such behavior should not be ignored, and it is best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

How does wood chewing behavior indicate a nutrient deficiency in dogs?


Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in a dog’s diet as it provides necessary amino acids required for growth and maintenance in animals. In circumstances where dogs aren’t receiving enough protein in their diet, they might resort to chewing on non-food items such as wood. This is due to a natural instinct; animals in the wild would chew bones to extract marrow for protein, so domesticated dogs may demonstrate similar behaviors when they’re lacking in this nutrient.


Though it might be tempting to think of fats as a health hazard to be minimized, it’s essential to remember that fats are a necessary part of a dog’s diet. Fats provide a concentrated source of energy, make food palatable and help in the absorption of certain vitamins. If a dog’s diet is deficient in necessary fats, they might also exhibit behavior like chewing wood. This unusual behavior could be the result of feeling unsatisfied or still hungry after meals due to this deficiency.


Another important nutrient in a dog’s diet is carbohydrates. As with fats, carbs are considered a source of energy, but they also play an important role in the healthy function of the intestinal system. Their role in providing fiber prevents overheating by dog’s internal organs and discourages abnormal behavior such as wood chewing. If a dog’s diet lacks sufficient carbohydrates, one might observe the dog chewing on things like wood, indicating an effort to obtain additional fiber.

Vitamins and Minerals

Just like in humans, dogs too require essential vitamins and minerals for them to have healthy bodies. These nutrients are important for different functions in a dog’s body such as strengthening the immune system, promoting good vision, and fostering healthy skin and coat. If a dog’s diet lacks enough vitamins and minerals, they will constantly seek them elsewhere, hence causing them to chew on wood and other non-food items.

Are certain dog breeds more prone to nutrient deficiencies?

breeds may indeed be more susceptible to nutrient deficiencies due to their unique nutritional needs and metabolic rates. However, it is crucial to note that any dog, regardless of breed, can suffer from nutritional deficiencies if their diet is not balanced and appropriate for their specific needs.

Small Breed Dogs

Small breed dogs often have faster metabolisms and require more calories per pound of body weight compared to larger breeds. These dogs need diets rich in proteins and fats to meet their high energy demands. Consequently, if their diets are deficient in these nutrients, they may resort to chewing wood or exhibiting other pica behaviors.

Large Breed Dogs

Larger breed dogs tend to grow at a more rapid pace during their early years, requiring a finely balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins and fats. If these diets are missing the necessary nutrients, these breeds may also resort to abnormal chewing.

Working and Active Breeds

Working or active breeds, like sled dogs or herding breeds, need nutrient-dense diets to maintain their energy levels and overall health. Diets deficient in any core nutrient may lead to various health issues, including an unusual tendency to chew wood.

Breed-Specific Nutritional Issues

Some breeds may have breed-specific dietary requirements or are prone to certain health problems that can affect their nutritional needs. Examples include the Labrador Retriever’s propensity for obesity, which requires carefully measured and portion-controlled meals, or the Dalmatian’s unique uric acid metabolism, which requires a diet lower in purine-rich foods.

Overall, it is important to consult with a professional veterinarian or a canine nutritionist when choosing the diet for your dog. Proper education can help prevent nutrient deficiencies and the development of destructive behaviors like chewing wood.

What are the potential long-term effects of nutrient deficiency in dogs?

Nutrient deficiencies can have serious long-term effects on a dog’s health. These might be directly related to a lack of essential nutrients, or indirectly through a preoccupation with chewing inappropriately on furniture or wooden objects in search of vital nutrients.

Physical Development

Long-term nutrient deficiency can severely affect a dog’s physical development. A lack of protein, for instance, can result in hair loss, loss of muscle mass, and overall weakness. A lack of fats can lead to a deficient energy level and causes an inability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals. Low levels of carbohydrates can cause a lack of energy and poor mental function.

Immune System Functioning

A deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals can affect a dog’s immune system adversely. Dogs devoid of vitamin A could suffer from impaired vision and poor skin health. Lack of Vitamin D can affect bone health, while a lack of Vitamin E can affect the immune system over time.

Behavioural Changes

Dogs deficient in essential nutrients show changes in their behaviour. These changes can range from lethargy, reduced interest in play and exercise, to more complex issues such as pica, which is characterized by a dog’s unnatural craving for non-food items like wood. This can lead to further health complications, including intestinal obstruction and dental problems.

Life Expectancy

Long-term nutrient deficiencies can arguably reduce a dog’s lifespan. Appropriate dietary management, including an appropriate balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals, is vital for a dog’s overall health and well-being, influencing the length and quality of their lives.

Why is my dog eating wood all of a sudden?

A sudden onset of wood-eating behavior in dogs may raise eyebrows among pet owners. This atypical behavior might be indicative of various factors, which can be broadly classified into two categories: medical and behavioral.

Medical Causes

Allergies, dietary deficiencies, gastrointestinal problems, or other medical conditions may contribute to this sudden wood-chewing habit. Just as humans might experience odd cravings when lacking certain nutrients, dogs may also show similar responses. A lack of sufficient protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals may trigger such behaviors.

Behavioural Factors

Beyond nutritional deficiencies, a sudden onset of wood-eating could also be a sign of stress, boredom, or anxiety in dogs. This kind of destructive behavior is often a coping mechanism for dogs dealing with emotional challenges.

Intestinal Blockages

It’s important to note that eating wood can lead to serious health problems in dogs. Wooden fragments consumed can cause gastrointestinal blockages, often leading to critical health issues and expensive, life-saving surgeries.

Steps to Address the Issue

Taking immediate steps to address and curb this behavior is highly recommended. These may include-

  1. Providing Balanced Diet: Ensuring your dog gets a balanced, nutrient-rich diet could potentially address any nutrient deficits causing this behavior.
  2. Increased Physical and Mental Stimulation: Keeping your dog engaged and well-exercised could help reduce stress and anxiety levels, thereby reducing the likelihood of destructive behaviors.
  3. Professional Intervention: In some cases, it may be beneficial to seek the help of animal behaviorists or veterinary professionals to identify and address underlying issues.

Remember, while it can be alarming to see your dog indulge in such behaviors, understanding the potential causes and taking appropriate measures can go a long way in ensuring the well-being and longevity of your furry companion. As always, when in doubt, it is best to consult with a veterinary professional for better guidance and treatment recommendations.

What to do if dog eats wood

When you discover that your dog has consumed wood, it can be concerning and may require prompt attention. Here’s how to properly respond: Examine the Dog

First, examine your dog for signs of distress. This may be evident through changes in behavior, difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, vomiting, or blood in the stool. These are indicators that the dog may be experiencing an intestinal blockage or injury, and immediate veterinary attention is necessary. Contact a Veterinarian

Regardless of whether or not symptoms are immediate, it is prudent to contact your vet to inform them of the situation. They can provide advice based on specific details like the size of your dog and the quantity of wood consumed. Monitor Your Dog

Frequently, pieces of wood can pass through the dog’s system without incident. Continue to monitor your dog’s stool for pieces of wood. Subsequent diarrhoea, constipation, or changes in appetite can signify a challenge in processing the wood, and a vet appointment should be scheduled immediately. Prevent Future Incidents

  • Remove Access: Keep your dog away from areas where wood is accessible. This may include fencing off particular areas or removing smaller wood items from the yard.
  • Diversion Tactics: Offer chewing-friendly alternatives like dog chew toys or bones. Regular exercise and mental stimulation can also help reduce inappropriate chewing behavior.
  • Training: Training your dog using appropriate commands can prevent future incidents. Reinforcing commands like “leave it” can be invaluable.

In summary, if your dog consumes wood, stay calm, examine your dog for signs of distress, contact your vet, and monitor your dog’s health closely. Finally, put measures in place to prevent future incidents. Your dog’s health depends on your proactive and attentive care.

Christy Avery has worked as a veterinary technician for more than five years, caring for both domestic and exotic animals. She has received training as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and treat pet anxiety, fear, and stress.