Next: Pet Dental Health Myths Debunked
A: Dogs have stronger stomach acid than people, therefore rougher and fibrous materials, like grasses and sticks, can be partially to fully digested in the canine stomach and subsequently passed through the small and large intestine.
Yet if a dog swallows a stick in a large chunk, it is more likely to remain whole in the stomach instead of appropriately passing out of the stomach into the small intestine. Pieces of foreign material like a stick can irritate the stomach lining, causing gastritis. Vomiting can ensue to evacuate the foreign material out of the stomach through the esophagus.
During this process, stomach acid can severely irritate the esophageal lining and cause irritation and stricture (scarring). In a more severe scenario, the solid material could even become lodged in the esophagus and cause an obstruction. Not only is this condition severely uncomfortable for pets, but either emergency endoscopy or surgery is needed to resolve it.
Such a situation isn't exclusive to twigs. Rocks, bones, antlers and even some dog treats (rawhide, dental treats, etc.) can also cause digestive problems in dogs.
My general recommendation is for dogs to not chew on or consume any material that could potentially cause digestive upset.