The Q&A Archives: Help for a Dog-Damaged Maple Tree

Question: I have a young maple tree in my yard. I've only lived here a year and the tree was here when I got here but I would guess the age of the tree to be around ten years. My puppy chewed on the base of the tree until he was able to pull a section about 4" wide x 5' tall off one vertical side. Is my tree going to die or is there anything I can do to save it? I hate to lose a good tree! P.S. The puppy has been moved. : ) Terri H Tulsa, OK

Answer: If the tree was not completely girdled--that is, the bark around the entire circumference of the tree damaged--then there's hope. The bark contains the cambium; this is the plant tissue that brings the sugars manufactured in the leaves down to the roots. As long as there is some connection between the crown of the tree and the roots, some nutrients can flow. The tree's growth may be stunted for a while, however. It used to be recommended to paint a wound dressing on any tree wounds--pruning cuts, etc. This has fallen out of favor; rather, it is usually recommended to let the tree do the healing on its own. Keep an eye on the tree, baby it a little with some compost mulch and plenty of water, and hope for the best.

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