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A recent warning by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) claims that the time-honored tradition of throwing a stick to your dog can put your pet at risk of getting hurt.

Sticks, the veterinarians claim, can puncture the dog’s mouth or cause other problems, like obstructions, splinters, and infections.

“Our message is that these injuries are severe and are preventable simply by using dog-safe toys as alternatives to sticks,” said Sean Wensley, BVA president.

AKC Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein recognizes that many dogs love playing with sticks but offers two words of advice: Owner beware.

“Sticks and dogs seem harmless enough and in fact, many dogs, especially some retrievers, love trotting around with a stick dangling from their mouths,” says Dr. Klein, who practices at MedVet Chicago. “But I have had dogs come into our hospital with sticks stuck across the roof of their mouths, stuck in their throat, or with deep penetrating wounds in their oral cavities caused by sticks.”

Safer alternatives of fetch toys are available online and in pet stores. Penny Leigh, of the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, advises owners to also avoid tennis balls, which can cause abrasion of the tooth enamel or pop and cause injury. Instead, she explains, look for toys made of durable rubber when playing fetch with your dog.

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This article is intended solely as general guidance, and does not constitute health or other professional advice. Individual situations and applicable laws vary by jurisdiction, and you are encouraged to obtain appropriate advice from qualified professionals in the applicable jurisdictions. We make no representations or warranties concerning any course of action taken by any person following or otherwise using the information offered or provided in this article, including any such information associated with and provided in connection with third-party products, and we will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages that may result, including but not limited to economic loss, injury, illness or death.
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