Dog Eating Bark? What to Do + How to Stop It! [8 Steps]

If you’re a dog owner, you might have noticed your furry friend munching on some bark from time to time. In our article, “Dog Eating Bark? What to Do + How to Stop It!”, we’ll be discussing why dogs have this unusual habit and what you can do to prevent it.

We’ll cover topics such as how to stop your dog from eating bark chips, the reasons behind this behavior, and the potential risks involved. We’ll also touch on whether or not dogs can digest bark and if it’s safe for them to chew on tree bark and branches.

So, if you’re curious about this odd canine behavior and want to keep your pet safe and healthy, keep reading below!

How to Stop Dog Eating Bark Chips

Dog Eating Bark

To stop dog eating bark:

  1. Keep your dog away from any areas where they like to find bark.
  2. Ensure your dog always has available a proper outlet for their chewing like a chew toy.
  3. Give a calm, firm “stop” or “no” the second your dog is eating bark again.
  4. Don’t scream or get upset, because if they’re behaving like this due to anxiety (which is the most likely explanation), this will only make their issues worse.
  5. Place them into a quick time-out in their crate or a closed-off room for approximately 10 minutes.
  6. If you notice your dog starting to go after the bark, point them to a favorite toy.
  7. Give them pets, praise, and a treat when they choose their toy rather than eating or chewing on bark.
  8. Be sure that everyone else in the house is also going by these procedures while staying patient and consistent.

This will get your dog to stop eating bark, but it’s important to remember that the underlying behavioral issue (anxiety, boredom) that was causing all of this to begin with will still be present. And until you address that, any positive changes you see are only going to be temporary.

“Okay, how do I make these changes last?”

By getting your dog to truly choose to follow your direction, that’s how. I tried many times to write out how you can do that before deciding it made more sense to just link you to the free video series that explains it better than I’d ever be able to.

The series is by a man named Dan who is one of the world’s leading dog obedience trainers. In it, he teaches you how to put an end to things like when your dog eats bark and all other misbehavior using his fast and easy-to-follow methods.

In the first video, Dan will reveal to you why the two most common methods of dog training only doom you to failure. You can watch the video now by clicking here. Follow the proven system he’ll show you in his series and you’ll never have to spend another second worrying about your dog eating bark ever again!

Why Do Dogs Eat Bark?

Dogs eat bark mainly due to anxiety, boredom, or hunger. Anxiety can cause your dog to chew on objects like tree bark as a way to self-soothe. Boredom, on the other hand, leads to dogs seeking out ways to entertain themselves, which may include gnawing on tree bark. Hunger may also drive dogs to eat bark, especially if their diet is lacking in nutrients or they’re not being fed enough.

It’s worth noting that teething is another possible reason, but it’s more common in puppies. As puppies grow, their teeth cause discomfort, and they will naturally seek out objects to chew on, including tree bark.

Although puppies eventually outgrow teething, it’s still important to tackle their destructive chewing habits right away.¬†Allowing it to continue gives your dog tacit approval, and they will not simply age out of this as chewing will still be pleasurable for them even as an adult.

Keeping your dog away from any trees or areas with bark that they like to chew is a good first step if you’re able, but be aware that this isn’t addressing the core issue. Your dog will simply find other items to chew destructively in order to alleviate their problem.

Your dog might chew your deck railings, chew your landscape edging, chew your outdoor furniture, or eat bird seed from your feeder. Practically anything they can reach becomes a potential target. You can probably see why addressing the root cause of the problem is so necessary. To learn the exact steps to do that, go back to the first section of this article now.

Is Eating Bark Safe for Dogs?

Eating bark is not safe for dogs, as it can lead to several potentially serious health issues. For one, tree bark may contain pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals that are harmful to your dog. Additionally, sharp pieces of bark can cause injuries to your dog’s mouth, throat, or digestive system if swallowed.

Moreover, certain types of trees, like cherry or black walnut, can be toxic to dogs (more on that below). If your dog consumes a significant amount of toxic bark, they may experience symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy. In severe cases, ingestion of toxic bark could be fatal.

Can Dogs Digest Bark?

Dogs cannot fully digest bark, as their digestive systems aren’t designed to break down woody materials. While small amounts of bark might pass through their system without causing any issues, larger amounts can lead to digestive problems. Obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract is a serious concern, which may require surgical intervention.

Furthermore, the indigestible nature of bark could cause your dog to experience gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating, gas, or constipation. In some cases, this discomfort could lead to more severe symptoms that necessitate a visit to the veterinarian.

Can Dogs Chew on Tree Bark and Branches?

Dogs can chew on tree bark and branches, but it’s not recommended due to the potential risks involved. As previously mentioned, chewing on bark can expose your dog to harmful chemicals, cause injuries to their mouth, throat, or digestive system, and potentially lead to the ingestion of toxic substances.

Instead of allowing your dog to chew on tree bark and branches, it’s better to provide them with safe and appropriate alternatives, such as durable dog toys or chews specifically designed for their needs. This way, you can ensure that your dog satisfies their chewing instincts without putting their health at risk.

What Tree Bark Is Poisonous to Dogs?

Several types of tree bark are poisonous to dogs and can cause various health issues if ingested. You need to be aware of these toxic trees and prevent your dog from chewing on them. Some common poisonous tree barks include:

  • Black Walnut: The bark, leaves, and nuts of the black walnut tree contain a toxin called juglone, which can cause gastrointestinal upset, seizures, or even liver damage in dogs.
  • Cherry: Cherry trees, including wild cherry, black cherry, and chokecherry, contain cyanogenic glycosides in their bark, leaves, and seeds. When ingested, these substances can lead to cyanide poisoning, causing symptoms like difficulty breathing, weakness, and vomiting.
  • Red Maple: The bark and leaves of the red maple tree contain gallic acid and tannins, which can cause anemia and even death in dogs if ingested in large quantities.
  • Oak: Oak trees, particularly their acorns and young leaves, contain a substance called tannic acid. Ingestion can lead to kidney damage, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy in dogs.
  • Yew: All parts of the yew tree, including the bark, are toxic to dogs due to the presence of taxine alkaloids. Consumption can cause rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures, and even death.
  • Sago Palm: While not a true tree, the bark of the sago palm is also toxic to dogs. The plant contains cycasin, which can cause liver failure, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures when ingested.

It’s important to monitor your dog while outdoors and discourage them from chewing on tree bark or branches. If you suspect that your dog has ingested a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian immediately or seek emergency veterinary care.

You should now know everything you need to handle your dog’s bark-eating habit, so I’ll let you get started. Good luck with everything, and thank you for reading our article “Dog Eating Bark? What to Do + How to Stop It!”

The Author

KB Williams

KB Williams

Hey there! I'm a dog behavior expert and lover of travel. Since 2016, I've been sharing my knowledge of dog training and behavior while exploring the Pacific Northwest with my two rescues.