It’s one of the age-old traditions of dog ownership – throwing sticks for dogs to fetch. However, the president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) recently issued a warning telling dog owners they could cause their pets “horrific injuries” if they play fetch with sticks.
Warning: some of the photos contained in this article are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.
Robin Hargreaves, President elect of the BVA said owners risk causing extreme bodily harm to their pets by playing with sticks. When sticks break in a dog’s mouth they can cause splinters or become impaled, causing life-threatening injuries or even death.
The vet says he sees at least one dog a month with injuries caused by sticks. He said that the most common injuries that occur are when a dog runs onto a stick in the ground, forcing it down their throat and cutting under the tongue or even tearing the esophagus further back.
Remember how our parents told us never to run with a toothbrush in your mouth? Now imagine all those dogs running with dirty long sticks with pointy, splintery ends!
If the throat and mouth injuries aren’t bad enough, splinters of wood also can get stuck in a the soft tissue of a dog’s throat and can lead to deadly infections. Many times the splinters go undetected at first. Pet owners might not know something is wrong until an infection sets in, at which point it can be fatal.
New guidance is being given to vets that suggests they should use modern scanning equipment to detect splinters from sticks that would otherwise be missed.
However, vets who see the damage that sticks do to dogs all have a clear message – don’t do it.
“Every generation thinks throwing a stick to a dog is the best thing,” said Dr. Hargreaves told the Telegraph. “It never seems to get into national psyche it is a bad thing to do. Use a ball, rubber bones or soft toys.”
It’s good advice, given how terrible these injuries can be! Please share this advice with the dog owners you know!