Why Do Dogs Eat Tree Bark?

By Susan Paretts

Your pooch may eat strange things such as tree bark because he's bored, he likes the taste, he's hungry or he may suffer from a condition called pica. Tree bark isn't nutritious and some trees are poisonous to our canine companions. Even nontoxic bark could end up causing your pooch to have an intestinal blockage if ingested in large amounts. Prevent your pooch from gnawing on your trees, destroying them and possibly making himself sick.

He Likes the Taste

Some dogs simply like the taste of tree bark and find that gnawing on it is satisfying. Tree bark contains cellulose, a type of fiber, according to Purdue University. Dog food manufacturers sometimes add cellulose to their products. Fiber helps with your pooch's digestion and colon health, according to the Doctors Foster and Smith website. It also keeps him feeling full.

If Fido's been chomping at your trees, he may be hungry or need a bit more fiber in his diet. Try feeding him more food or switch to a food that contains a higher amount of fiber to keep him full.

Feed your pup before you spend time with him outdoors. A pooch with a full tummy is less likely to eat your trees.

He's Bored or Anxious

If your pup is left unsupervised outside for long spans of time, he may become bored or anxious, warns the Partnership for Animal Welfare. To alleviate his stress, he might begin to chew on the bark of trees in your backyard. Increasing the amount of time you spend with your pup and how much exercise he's getting may reduce his desire to gnaw on tree bark.

He's Suffering from Pica

If your pup is obsessively chewing on your trees and any type of tree bark or wood he can get his paws on, he may be suffering from a condition known as pica.

  • Dogs with pica eat nonfood items, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
  • Medical conditions such as a metabolic or gastrointestinal disorder can cause pica in dogs.
  • Stress or a nutritional deficiency can cause pica.

Bring your dog to the vet if he's consistently eating tree bark to rule out a medical condition or nutritional deficiency as the cause of his behavior.

The Need to Chew

Some dogs enjoy chewing on anything that's within their reach, including trees, especially young puppies who are teething. Discourage your canine companion from chewing on your trees by redirecting his behavior onto other things. Give him some appropriate substitutes like chew toys, bully sticks or puzzle toys filled with yummy treats like peanut butter.

Discouraging Bark Biting

While the occasional bite of a tree likely won't hurt your dog, if he's consistently eating the bark off of your plants, he could develop an intestinal blockage or damage his teeth. Worse yet, the bark of some trees, such as cherry trees, contains poisonous, cyanide-like chemicals that can make your pooch very sick if he ingests it, warns The Bark website.

Prevent your pup from eating bark by keeping him on a leash when you take him outside, to direct him away from any trees. Spray your trees with a nontoxic taste deterrent, found in pet supply stores.

Always supervise your pup around any plants and keep any potentially toxic ones away from him.