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.