We all grew up with the idyllic notion of throwing sticks for dogs, but latest figures from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reveal that three in four vets have seen dogs injured by stick-throwing antics in the last year.

On Channel 4’s coverage of Crufts 2017 recently, vet Nick Blayney and health reporter Nimisha Patel highlighted the issue, dispelling the notion and urging dog owners across the UK to use safe alternatives instead.

Dog injuries from sticks can range from cuts and scrapes in a dog’s mouth, to infections from stick-splinters, and life-threatening injuries such as the stick becoming lodged in their throat. Even when the initial wound is treated, splinters of the wood can become buried and lead to infection, requiring subsequent operations or treatment.

Nimisha, who is a registered veterinary nurse, said:

“Personally I’ve only had to deal with a minor injury, where a stick got lodged across the dog’s hard palate, but it still must have been excruciating for the dog – and I know other vets and vet nurses see far worse, far more often! We’re learning more and more about our pets, their likes and dislikes, and what’s best for their welfare, so it’s always worth taking a look at the latest available advice or going and speaking with your local vet to make sure our pet are as happy and healthy as they possibly can be.”

The majority of vets surveyed by BVA had, on average, seen a couple of stick injury cases in the last twelve months – yet one vet had seen 50 cases!

British Veterinary Association President and vet Gudrun Ravetz said:

“In practice I have seen cases of traumatic stick injuries that have caused real problems for the dogs, and have needed extensive investigations and surgery.  Even small splinters can cause big problems. We would never discourage owners from exercising or playing with their dog as there are enormous benefits for their health, as well as our physical health and mental wellbeing, we simply ask that owners swap sticks for dog-safe toys instead to avoid easily preventable and distressing injuries.”

BVA recommends that any owner concerned that their dog may have a stick injury, or who would like information on alternative dog friendly toys, speak to their local vet.

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