Wood chip is cheap, easy to clear up and makes for a soft surface on which dogs can play. However, it does pose health risks, especially if your dog is an indiscriminate eater. If you notice that your dog views wood chip as a meal, rather than a cheap alternative to more expensive ground coverings, he could be at risk of injury or illness.
Wood chip gets damp quickly. The small chunks of wood absorb moisture and create a muddy mess over time, especially after rain. The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus thrives in damp bark and wood chip. When ingested or inhaled, this fungus can poison your dog and has the potential to cause serious liver damage. Some types of wood chip are treated with chemicals. Chemically treated chips may prove hazardous if ingested.
Risk of Dental Injury
When dry, wood chips can be brittle and prone to splintering. If a chip splinters in your dog's mouth, it can cause tooth and gum injury. Not only can this be painful and lead to infection, oral injuries can inhibit a dog’s ability to eat, leading to weight loss, lethargy and in severe cases, malnutrition.
Your dog may be able to withstand the risks of the fungus, chemicals and splintering, but once that wood chip enters his digestive system, he’s exposed to a number of other risks. Wood chips can quite easily cause intestinal blockages, posing a serious threat to life and at the very least, resulting in a costly trip to the veterinarian.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.