It might not appear like a dangerous game but pet owners are being urged not to throw sticks for dogs after vets revealed the potentially “disastrous” consequences of stick-related injuries.
The warning comes after Bilton Veterinary Centre in Rugby posted a video of vets removing a 30cm stick lodged in a dog's neck.
Willow, a black labrador, was fortunate enough that the stick she had been playing with missed every vital vessel, nerve and structure and it could be safely removed.
She made a full recovery, however, not all dogs are as lucky as Willow and leading vets from the PDSA have said that if a stick gets caught in a dog’s windpipe, oesophagus or jugular vein are damaged, the consequences could be severe.
PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said: "Many might imagine a proud pooch prancing back, stick in mouth and tail wagging, when thinking about playing fetch with a dog. Sadly, as a vet I've seen the other side of this picture: throwing sticks can cause severe injuries. Across our 48 hospitals we frequently see stick-related injuries, which include wounds to the mouth and throat, choking and intestinal blockages.
“The most serious injuries tend to occur when a dog runs into a stick that has become lodged in the ground after being thrown, impaling them. Sticks can also pierce or get stuck in the mouth and throat. Even splinters that might not always be obvious can migrate deeper into the body or cause infections and abscesses. The throat and neck have lots of really important structures: if the windpipe, oesophagus or big blood vessels like the jugular vein are damaged, it can be disastrous.”
She added: “For me, it's just not worth the risk. I'd always advise dog owners to use safer alternatives to sticks, such as a dog-safe ball or rubber toy.”