Stick injuries are one of the most common and easily avoidable severe injuries in dogs. Most surprisingly though, the majority of owners of dogs which have suffered a severe stick injury, were completely unaware of the dangers of playing fetch with sticks.
It is well known that dogs love to find, carry, catch and chew sticks when out on walks. But what is less well known is the potential damage those sticks can cause. For instance, small pieces can break off and get stuck between teeth or cause cuts to the mouth, or larger pieces can get lodged across the roof of the mouth. While these are minor problems, they can still cause your dog great distress at the time, and/or infections later on.
The more severe side of stick injuries can occur when dogs run at speed towards a stick to catch it with their mouths wide open. When the stick contacts the ground and the dog ‘runs onto the stick’ at the same time, there is potential for the stick to penetrate deep into your dog’s mouth, neck or throat. The scale of injuries in this scenario can be horrendous and very often life threatening. Dogs that have suffered this injury can often be seen to yelp out on impact, gag or cough, have blood around their mouth, or simply become suddenly subdued and quiet.
The best way to avoid stick injuries is to take other toys or balls out on walks for them to play with instead, but most importantly we as pet owners should avoid the temptation to throw sticks for them!
If you suspect a stick injury it is very important to get your pet checked over by your vet the same day that the injury happens.