Our Catahoula Leopard Dog is a cheap date. She recently turned one year old and we’ve had her since she was a puppy, so we’ve been through the puppy chewing phase with her. Whereas our other dog needed heavy duty rawhides to keep her teeth busy, and they never kept her teeth busy long enough, our Catahoula pup has never needed a rawhide to chew on. She prefers pine cones and pine straw that she finds in our backyard. Pine straws are needles from long-needled pine trees that are commonly bought in bales and used as garden mulch.
From her earliest days our Catahoula puppy would smuggle things in from outdoors, tucked inside her cheek like a hoarding hamster. You wouldn’t even realize she had smuggled something until she started chewing on it. Pine cones, pine straw, and rocks were commonly smuggled items. We immediately took the rocks away.
Her favorite dog chew was a piece of pine straw. I kid you not, one single piece of pine straw that had fallen from our long-needled pine tree could keep our Catahoula dog busy chewing for three straight days. Talk about a cheap date!
After the serious business of keeping our Australian Cattle Dog/Husky mix (Ausky) busy with dog chewies, and retraining her not to chew up our house, we were prepared to use the same techniques in training our Catahoula puppy. Our Ausky dog had come to us as a semi-adult shelter dog with a lot of problems. We were successful in retraining her to be able to have full run of the house even when we weren’t home, without worrying about dog chewing or potty in the house. We shared her story and how we retrained her in the book Bad Dog to Best Friend which is available on Amazon.com.
After adopting the Catahoula puppy, we studied up on the Catahoula Leopard Dog breed and according to everything we read, serious training was a must for the Catahoula breed, as well as being ready to deal with dog chewing issues. We were totally ready, but our Catahoula puppy didn’t follow the chewing regime that our Ausky dog had gone through. A single piece of pine straw and she was perfectly happy, trotting around like a man with a toothpick hanging out of his mouth. That’s exactly what she reminded us of, too. Just like a person who chews on toothpicks, our Catahoula dog chews on pine straw.
Pine cones were another big dog treat in her life, though we did not accommodate them as readily as the pine straw. Our Catahoula dog didn’t actually eat the pine cones, she simply chewed them into little pieces making quite a mess in a short period of time. Pine cones and pine straw were cheap treats that our yard had in abundance, and it was preferable to allowing her to ingest large quantities of rawhide which can harm your dog. If a dog gets too much rawhide in their belly it can swell up and block their intestines. Dogs can die from intestinal blockage and our Ausky dog had given us a few scares during her chewing phase, so it was a relief not to have to worry about such things.
We were lucky that we never had to worry about our Catahoula puppy actually swallowing the pine cones. If a dog swallows anything big and chunky it can cause choking or an intestinal blockage. Allowing your dog to chew on pine cones from outdoors could also tempt them to chew on decorative pine cones in your home that may have been treated with chemicals that are toxic to your dog.
In addition, dogs eating quantities of pine cones and pine needles from outdoors can cause other issues. One concerns toxins that you use in your yard such as fertilizers, weed killers and insecticides. As we rarely use these in the backyard where our dogs play, this is not an issue for us. Pine tree oils and saps, however, can be problematic.
According to the ASPCA, Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) can produce vomiting, depression, pale mucous membranes and a drop in body temperature in cats, and possibly similar problems in dogs (though their site is a bit fuzzy on whether the dog symptoms would be the same as the cat symptoms.) The Buddhist Pine (Podocarpus macrophylla), which is also known as a Japanese Yew or Southern Yew, can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting.
Oddly enough, the ASPCA recommends using shredded pine as a mulch rather than the HIGHLY toxic cocoa bean shells, which contain the chocolate ingredient that can kill a dog in high enough quantities. Instead of using cocoa shell mulch, they recommend “non-toxic alternatives” including shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark. They do advise you to keep an eye on your dog near mulch of any kind, however.
Christmas tree varieties of pines contain pine sap and oils that can cause gastrointestinal irritation and affect the nervous system if ingested in large enough quantities. In addition, the needles (presumably of the short-needled variety though they did not specify) can cause damage to the soft tissues of the mouth and gastrointestinal tract.
As our Catahoula dog doesn’t actually ingest the pine cones or the pine straw, I do allow her to chew on them, though pine cones are not allowed in the house. Ever since I banned her from bringing pine cones indoors she has lost interest in them. The pine straw, however, remains a favorite treat for our dog to chew on and considering the dangers of some of the alternatives, we’re more than happy to allow the pine straw.
Dog humor on t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs and beer mugs, tote bags,
posters and more! Our Catahoula Leopard Dog and our Australian Cattle Dog/Husky mix are both featured on a wide variety of gift items.
Category: Dog Tails of Adventure