It is an extremely common game played by dogs and their owners in parks all over the world, but vets warn that throwing sticks for your dog can cause horrific injuries and even kill them.
Sticks can splinter in the mouth causing dogs to choke, bleed to death or develop a lethal infection. They can also stab the back of the throat and injure the spine, causing paralysis.
The most common injury occurs when a dog runs onto a stick in the ground, forcing it down their throat and cutting underneath the tongue or even tearing the gullet further back. These puncture wounds are very painful and can cause infection, sometimes leading to organ failure and death.
Small pieces of the stick can break off and can remain in the neck, which leads to these infections. Sticks are more often than not covered in bacteria, yeasts and fungi and as the stick enters the body through a bacteria-laden site (the mouth) these germs are carried into the wound too. Owners may not be aware of any infection and it can become well established prior to receiving veterinary attention. If veterinary assistance is sought early on then most dogs will survive the infection.
Retrievers, Labradors and collies are the worst affected with thousands of dogs admitted to vets surgeries every year.
Sticks are very dirty and sharp, therefore a dangerous ‘toy’ for your four-legged companion, instead owners are advised to use fake bones, rubber balls or frisbees. You can now even purchase rubber toy sticks too keep your pooch happy if this is their preference!
Spread the word to keep more dogs safe from these horrible accidents.