Playing catch with your dog is one of the best past times you can have with your beloved pet.
It gets both of you outdoors, a good bit of exercise for both, and you get to see your dog happy.
When it comes to choosing what to play with, most people might just find a random stick on the ground and start using it without really thinking.
However, it might be more important to consider what you are letting your dog play with than one might think.
Letting your dog chew on sticks or wood will not be immediately deadly, but it is a dangerous habit that should be discouraged if ever noticed.
Understanding why wood is dangerous for dogs to chew on will help you stop a problem before it gets out of hand.
Petstages DogwoodBest For Aggressive Chewers
Wooden dog toys are primarily designed to be used as chew toys, and the same rules apply:
Despite their name, most wooden dog toys are not 100% wood.
You see, to create a safer stick, manufacturers mixed wood with synthetic materials. The result was a wooden toy that does not splinter and is safe to chew on.
And after reviewing, I must say that I am impressed as to how far manufacturing has come. Many of these toys look, feel and smell like real wood.
Best of all, wooden chew toys have an obvious advantage. They can be chewed inside – without bringing crumbly bits of bark or bugs into your home.
Now, you may be asking the question:
Why should I buy a wooden dog toy? There are plenty of sticks and branches outside – for free!
Good question. There are a few reasons why you should think twice before letting your dog play with that stick he found at the park.
Firstly, You don’t know where that stick has been. It could be rotting, contain bacteria that could make your dog sick, have nasty bugs hiding inside or worse…
The branch could come from a tree that is poisonous to dogs. Walnut, black cherry, and yew are just a few trees that are toxic to dogs. Gnawing on these could cause stomach issues and difficulty breathing.
Then there is the fact that wood can splinter while your dog is chewing on it. These spikes can get stuck in your dog’s mouth or do severe damage to if swallowed.
Unfortunately, your dog doesn’t realize just how dangerous these splinters are. He will keep chewing on sticks and branches no matter how pointy they get.
Even wood you have lying around the home can be harmful to dogs. Fence posts are treated with insecticides and wood preservative chemicals, while wood furniture is coated with paint and sealants. Not exactly something you want in your dog’s mouth, right?
As you can see, chewing on any old piece of wood can result in an expensive vet bill.
With that said, many owners let their dogs chew on sticks without any issues at all. If that sounds like you, then I’m not sure you’ll find a lot of value in paying for what you already get for free.
But if you don’t want to take the risk, a wooden dog toy is a great alternative.
How do you know if a wood dog toy is right for your pup?
Like with all toys, there is no guarantee that your dog will take to a wooden dog toy. However, your dog may be giving you some pretty big clues that he would play with one…
For example, if your dog happily picks up sticks or gnaws on them while out on a walk, then he will very likely take to a wooden dog toy.
Similarly, if your dog chews on wooden furniture legs or baseboard then he has a taste for wood – give him a wooden chew toy instead.
If your dog doesn’t have a taste for wood, check out our best-rated dog toy guide for alternative recommendations.
Decided a wood chew toy is the right toy for your dog? Check out our top picks…
All up, we tested 17 different wood dog toys in a range of shapes and sizes. After hours of testing, we narrowed down the winners to three wood toys, each great in their own way.
To start with, I’m going to recommend the best wood dog toy for most dogs. From there I’ll reveal my top pick for aggressive chewers and an option that is a chunk of dog-safe wood.
Out of all the wood chew toys we tested, none made our dogs more excited than the PetStages Ruffwood.
The Ruffwood toy is made from wood sawdust that has been combined with polypropylene and compressed into a stick shape.
If you look really closely, you can see the small pieces of sawdust inside…
While it is both denser and harder than a stick, we noticed that dogs who would otherwise reject a Nylabone go crazy over the Ruffwood – They would happily chew for hours.
The ruffwood is available in three different sizes…
|Small||6.5″||Up to 20 lbs|
|Medium||8.5″||Up to 35 lbs|
|Large||10.5″||Up to 50 lbs and over|
Each Ruffwood toy has a slight woody smell, but it’s only noticeable if you hold it under your nose. When your dog is chewing, you won’t smell a thing.
Speaking of chewing, we noticed that while this is a harder chew toy, it wears slightly quicker than a Nylabone. Our aggressive pitbull tester was happy to make a point of this.
It is for this reason that we recommend the Ruffwood for gentle to moderate chewers.
Our moderate chewers were able to get up to 3 months of use. After this, the Ruffwood wore down to a point where it was too small and needed to be replaced.
As your dog chews and wears the Ruffwood down, you will notice small pieces of sawdust-like material come off the toy. They are about the size of a grain of rice and according to PetStages, are harmless to dogs.
Unfortunately, any chew toy is going to make a mess as your dog chews off chunks. Fortunately, there were quickly swept up after each chewing session.
Even so, the Ruffwood still made less mess than if we let our pups chew on a stick they found at the park.
The Ruffwood can also be used as a fetch toy, and it will float in water.
However, we don’t advise it. The rougher texture picked up dirt and easily scuffed. Even worse, it was quite tricky to clean. The Ruffwood should be used as a chew toy only.
Overall a good all-round wooden chew toy.
For those of you looking for a durable wooden toy for your hardcore chewer, check out the Dogwood – Petstages once again showed us that they were unbeatable when it came to making wood dog toys.
Once again, Petstages have used a blend of sawdust and polypropelene to create this stick-alternative.
If you look closely, you’ll see the small pieces of sawdust compressed inside…
Even though it the Dogwood of a polypropylene blend, Petstages have done an exceptional job at making this toy resemble a real wooden stick – even more so than the rough wood.
It even smells like a stick…
The Original Dogwood has that woody aroma that you would expect a piece of wood you would find on a walk.
The Dogwood is also available in a Mesquite flavor. To me, this one smelt more like a BBQ than actual wood. Not that this mattered to our dog testers – they happily wrapped their jaws around both.
You can tell the two apart by their color. The Original Dogwood is a lighter brown while the Mesquite is a reddy-brown color.
Whichever Dogwood you choose, the smell is mild. You’ll only really notice it if you stick it under your nose. I couldn’t smell a thing while our dogs were chewing on the wooden toy.
While it may look and smell like a real wooden stick, the Dogwood toy feels like a hard plastic – kind of like a Nylabone.
If you try to make a dent in the Dogwood toy with your nail, it won’t mark.
If your dog rejects hard nylon chew toys, then you should give this one a miss. Your pup will probably won’t like this one either.
As the Dogwood stick begins to wear down, small pieces will fall off it, like sawdust. These pieces are about the size of a grain of rice.
It’s nowhere near the mess your dog will make if he sneaks a real stick inside the home and a quick sweep with a good broom once your dog is finished will soon take care of it.
Oh, and don’t worry if your dog eats these flakes – they will safely pass through their system.
This was one of the few wood dog toys we reviewed that was available in a wide range of sizes…
With a petite size for tiny dachshunds up to a large size which will keep even the most wood obsessed Labrador happy, there is a Dogwood toy for your breed.
|Petite||4″||Up to 15 lbs|
|Small||5.25″”||Up to 20 lbs|
|Medium||7.25″||Up to 35 lbs|
|Large||8″||50 lbs and over|
One of our Labrador testers preferred to fetch than chew. I am happy to report that the Dogwood is up to the task. The larger sizes are heavy enough that you can get throw them a reasonable distance.
It even floats, as we discovered when my husband tried to get as much air-time as possible. His aim was off, and it ended up landing in the lake. Not a problem, our Labrador happily went in after it.
Because of the plastic-like texture it doesn’t pick up much dirt and grime – a quick rinse under running water got most of the gunk off.
With that said, the Dogwood is first and foremost a wood chew toy. It will wear significantly faster than dog toys designed for retrieving. If you are looking for a stick-like toy just for fetch, then check out our guide on the best stick toys.
I will mention that the Dogwood toy was responsible for an awkward conversation I had at the local dog park…
One of the other dog owners was leaving the park, and her Rottweiler had my Dogwood toy in his jaws. I had to explain to her that it was not a stick but my dog’s toy.
At first, she didn’t believe me. She thought I was trying to lay claim to a random stick on the ground. But when I showed her a picture of the product on my phone, she apologized for the misunderstanding.
So, yeah, it’s believable that this is an actual wooden stick.
Now, you may be wondering:
What is the difference between the Ruffwood and Dogwood?
The Dogwood is essentially the newer model of the Ruffwood.
The main difference between the two is that the Dogwood is available in more sizes, flavors and is better suited to aggressive chewers. The Ruffwood didn’t hold up as well to aggressive chewing but was more likely to be accepted by dogs that disliked super hard chews.
However, if you have a large dog, you may want to check out the Ruffwood instead. At 10 inches long, the largest Ruffwood is a whole 2 inches longer than the biggest Dogwood chew toy.
Don’t think you can improve on nature? Or maybe you are looking for a wood chew toy that is nothing but wood.
Well, the Gorilla chew is just a large chunk of dog-safe wood. Java wood to be precise.
Like with all wood dog toys, the Gorilla Chew has been modified. All sharp, pointed bits have been sanded off. Your dog is left with a smooth piece of wood that is safe to chew on.
Now, because these are natural, each Gorilla Chew is unique. Some have small blemishes and holes, and others have large knobbly bits, some are darker in color…
No two were alike. I’ll admit, that is part of their charm. However, it also means that you won’t get an identical toy each time you buy a Gorilla Chew.
The Gorilla Chew is available in 4 different sizes, ranging from extra small to large.
Here are the measurements for the Gorilla Chews that we reviewed. Please note that all measurements were taken at the widest point.
|Extra Small||3.2 x 2.5 x 3 inches|
|Small||4 x 2.4 x 6 inches|
|Medium||4.8 x 4 x 4.8 inches|
|Large||6 x 5 x 6 inches|
Note: Because this is a natural product, it’s possible that your Gorilla Chew will not perfectly match these measurements.
The wood itself is very dense and quite hard. I was able to make a slight mark in the wood with a fingernail.
However, as your dog begins to work it with his mouth, the saliva soaks into the wood and softens it up – the wood dries back out when not in use.
Over time, your dog will be able to pull chunks of wood off. We found the Gorilla Chew to be slightly messier than the other synthetic wood chews we tested.
During testing, we found these to be soft and mushy pieces of pulp – no splinters.
Now, we did come across user reviews claiming the opposite was true, that this wood splintered…
We wanted to test the circumstances that would cause this to occur. Using a hammer and chisel, we were able to break off small splinters and shards.
What was the difference? We suspect it was to do with the lack of slobber softening the wood.
To confirm this, we soaked a Gorilla Chew in water and repeated the test. Mushy pieces fell off.
If you have a dog with powerful jaws which can rip chunks off before his saliva soaks into the wood, then it can indeed splinter.
It is for this reason that we only recommend this all-wood dog toy to light to moderate chewers and super slobbery dogs.
And for these dogs, the Gorilla Chew is a great wooden chew toy. Our German Shepherd tester worked his Gorilla Chew for three months, and it still had plenty of life left.
If you are looking for an all-wood dog toy, this is as good as it gets.
Is Wood A Good Option For Dogs To Chew On?
However, you must think twice before using wood as their chew toy. Although wood is literally everywhere and therefore a cheap option to entertain your dogs with, the wrong type of wood is likely going to do more harm than good.
There are several reasons for this:
If the dog ingests these fragments, it can lead to choking or deal significant damage to their digestive tract.
Accidents or injuries that happen when dogs chew on wood often have to be treated with expensive treatments and medication. At the end of the day, it is better to be safe than sorry and having to pay hundreds or thousands in vet bills to save your pet dog.
How To Prevent Poor Stick-Chewing Behaviour
Stop your dogs chewing on sticks by keeping your yard clear, cutting foliage and training your dog so that they get a reward for dropping the stick.
You could train your dog by praising them when they chew on a safer object. You may also stop using sticks as fetch toys as it could enhance their desire to chew on sticks.
What wood is safe for dogs to chew?
Wood splinters easily when chewed on and shards can jam into the dog’s mouth causing an infection. Also, if pieces of wood are swallowed, it can cause intestinal blockage. Sticks can create very real and painful injuries.
Is it OK for dogs to chew on wood sticks?
Are dog toys made with wood safe?
Are gorilla sticks safe for dogs?