Superb Dog

Why Is My Dog Obsessed With Pine Cones? Are Pine Cones Safe for Dogs?

It’s common for dogs to be obsessed with pine cones — after all, they fit nicely in their mouth, smell good, and are crunchy to chew. But are they safe?

Generally, dogs will chew almost anything they come across to stimulate their mind or overcome anxiety. But some objects are even more enticing to dogs than others, and these include pine cones. Is your dog obsessed with chewing pine cones? Should you be worried?

Your dog is obsessed with pine cones because of their scent. Pines release oils called terpenes which make your dog happy. The pine cone’s appearance also attracts dogs because they look like exciting toys.

Pine cones have adverse effects when ingested by a dog. The pine needles may puncture your dog’s stomach lining, while the pine sap may cause vomiting and loss of appetite. Pine needles may also pierce your dog’s paws if they come into contact with them. So, your dog should not be chewing pine cones or walking on them.

What Are Pine Cones?

Pine cones are a pine tree’s seeds. They’re woody in appearance, and their average length is one to 12 inches depending on the species. Some can even be as long as 24 inches.

They have scales containing a pine sap resin. The sap resin was used to make glue in ancient times, but in modern times the sap makes antiseptic, pine sap lamps, and soap. Pine sap also makes pine pitches that waterproof household items like buckets. 

Pine cones are edible by humans, except for the outer layer. You can eat the needles, resin, pollen, and nuts. They’re a source of vitamin c and minerals.

The cones have a rustic charm that needs no extra adornment when using them to decorate your home.

They have several other uses in the home, like placing them around your potted plants to prevent pets from digging into the soil. You can also give pine cone fire starters as Christmas gifts.

Do Animals Eat Pine Cones?

Pine cones are a squirrel’s favorite food. A squirrel is probably the culprit if you’ve ever seen pine cones stripped of all their scales. Their favorite part is the seeds.

Other animals that eat pine cones include:

  • Rats
  • Deer
  • Crossbills
  • Woodpeckers
  • Chipmunks
  • Raccoons

Pine cones may be suitable for some animals but not for dogs. They are awful for puppies and full-grown dogs and may block the digestive system if a dog swallows big pieces. A blocked digestive system leads to vomiting and constipation.

Even if your dog doesn’t eat pine cones, pine trees release pollen during spring, which may stick to your dog’s fur and trigger an allergic response.

Allergy signs include swelling and trouble breathing or walking. If the allergy becomes severe, a vet can resolve the issue.

Why Do Dogs Chew Pine Cones?

Chewing is normal behavior for dogs. Chewing on objects keeps their jaws strong, and teeth clean, and stimulates their mind.

Your dog may chew pine cones for these reasons:

Lack of Mental Stimulation

Exercise is one way of stimulating your dog’s mind, and if they lack it, they will chew anything on site, including pine cones.

Stimulate your dog’s mind by exercising them physically and providing brain games that will tire them. Try out these tips to stimulate your dog mentally:

  • Put your dog’s food in a dispenser and let them roll it around for it to dispense food.
  • Let your dog sniff and explore when out for a walk. Don’t just walk your dog on a straight path.
  • Provide puzzle toys for 15 minutes daily so your dog can improve their problem-solving skills.
  • Teach your dog new tricks, even if they aren’t practical, as the learning process stimulates their mind.
puppy obsessed with pine cones

Stress or Excitement

A dog might chew on objects if stressed out or excited. Stress may come in the form of:

  • Too much teasing from children, especially if the dog is tiny.
  • Lack of exposure to interesting activities.
  • Lack of human attention, especially for shelter dogs.
  • Leaving your dog alone for long (separation anxiety).

If a dog is confined or is on a leash, it may be excited after:

  • Seeing other dogs on the other side and wanting to join in their play.
  • Seeing a smaller animal like a squirrel or cat and wanting to chase it.

Stressed or excited dogs will often chew on their leash or items around them to alleviate the pent-up emotions.

Why Dogs Should Not Eat Pine Cones

When dogs come across pine cones, they often want to eat, chew or play with them. There is no harm if your dog picks the cone and plays with it, but it is different if the dog chews and swallows any portion of it.

 Here’s why dogs should avoid eating pine cones:

  • The pine cone scales may splinter and injure your dog’s mouth, tongue, or eyes.
  • Pine tree needles produce pine oil. If dogs ingest the oil, they could have a stomach upset.
  • Pine pollen may stick to your dog’s fur and trigger an allergic reaction.
  • Pine cones have sharp edges that, when ingested by your dog, can harm their intestines as they pass through the digestive tract.
  • Your dog may ingest harmful chemicals if they eat a pine from a tree treated with pesticides. 

Steps To Take When Your Dog Ingests Pine Cones

You may not be able to know everything your dog eats, but if you see them with a half-eaten pine cone or sense they’ve swallowed some, you can check for symptoms to see if your dog is sick.

If your dog has ingested small amounts of pine sap, there’s not much to worry about. But if they’ve eaten a generous portion, take some time to observe your dog. 

Vomiting and loss of appetite are the general symptoms, but if you notice your dog has trouble breathing or walking and they have a swollen throat, they may be having an allergic reaction. Take them to a vet for treatment.

Other severe symptoms that require a vet’s immediate attention are diarrhea, drooling, excessive thirst or urination, and lethargy.

How To Stop Your Dog From Chewing Pine Cones

You can train your dog the “leave it!” or “drop it!” command so that you can instruct them to either not pick up the pine cone or drop it if they do find one before you see it.

If pine cones are unavoidable, some people experience success with their dog’s pine cone-eating habits by training them to wear a basket muzzle. Your dog will resist it at first, but with proper introduction, will soon learn to wear it.

pine cones on ground that dogs would want to pick up

If your dog is chewing pine cones and other inappropriate objects, follow these steps to train them only to chew what you allow them:

  • Keep all pine cones out of your yard by picking them up regularly.
  • Keep away objects like shoes and dirty laundry to avoid stimulating your dog to chew them.
  • Provide toys, puzzles, and inedible bones as alternatives to decrease your dog’s interest in items they shouldn’t be chewing.
  • Discourage your dog from chewing random items by spraying them with a deterrent like bitter apple. You should accompany a deterrent with training. It rarely works on its own.
  • Monitor your dog to see when they are chewing inappropriate objects. Tell them to stop and provide an appropriate replacement like a chew toy. Your dog will soon learn only to chew their toys.
  • Provide plenty of exercises and play with your dog to release their anxiety or excitement.
  • Don’t confuse your dog by giving them items like old shoes or sticks to chew on instead. Your dog won’t differentiate between old and new shoes, or between pine cones and sticks found on the ground.

Don’t scold your dog over a pine cone they chewed hours ago. They won’t connect the pine cone-chewing incident with the scolding.

Also, don’t confine your dog for lengthy periods to prevent chewing. The dog may end up even more stressed and more likely to chew inappropriate objects.

How Do You Get Pine Pitch Off of Your Dog?

Pine trees produce a sticky substance called pine pitch. If it gets on your dog, debris like small rocks and sticks may stick on the fur and prove painful to remove.

Pine sap is also irritating when it comes into contact with your dog’s skin and may cause an allergy. 

Follow these steps to remove pine sap from your dog’s fur:

  • If the pine pitch has hardened, use a blow dryer on the lowest heat setting to soften it.
  • Then apply peanut butter (xylitol-free), mineral oil, or olive oil to the sap. Be sure to use non-toxic products like xylitol-free peanut butter. Your dog might try to lick the peanut butter off its fur and get poisoned because xylitol is toxic to dogs. You can put an Elizabethan collar (cone) on your dog to prevent it from licking the sap.
  • Massage the product onto your dog’s fur and let it soak for a while.
  • Use a wide-toothed comb to brush the sap off the fur while wiping it with a cloth. If there are stubborn areas, cut off the fur with scissors.
  • Cleanse the area with pet shampoo and warm water, then dry.
  • Follow the same procedure if your dog has pine sap between its paws.

Work fast when removing sap from your dog’s fur because the longer it stays on the fur, the harder it becomes and the more difficult it is to remove.

You can remove fresh pine sap efficiently using a small amount of vodka or rubbing alcohol. 

Final Thoughts

Your dog is most likely obsessed with pine cones because of the pine’s scent and appearance. Pine cones generate volatile oils called terpenes, which can actually provide pleasant emotions to your dog. Pine cones also resemble exciting toys that might tempt your dog to chew.

Pine cones aren’t safe for dogs. When ingested, they might cause an upset stomach, injure the dog’s mouth, or trigger allergic reactions.

Superb Dog Editor

Superb Dog Editor