Have you ever heard or read about dogs sustaining injury from playing fetch with sticks?
I have, but I never quite understood the seriousness of the injuries it can cause.
I’ve thrown sticks for my dogs to fetch for almost 30 years without incident. It’s one of those things that ‘happens to other people’ isn’t it? It will never happen to me or my dog.
Well, that’s how I used to think. But not any more.
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Yesterday I was surfing the internet when I happened across a fun (and very good!) blog called ‘alfiesblog.com’. But while there, a post outside of their usual light and humorous style really stuck out and caught my attention: ‘And this is why Alfie will never, ever be allowed to chase sticks again‘
Poor Alfie…and his pet parents…had quite an ordeal! A couple of excerpts from the article:
“To cut a long story short – Alfie ran for a stick, grabbed it and immediately started coughing and crying. By the time hubby had caught up with him he saw that Alfie had punctured his tongue…”
“Alfie’s Diagnosis after Playing with the Stick:
Penetrating wound to the mouth and larynx…fractures of his hyoid apparatus, or the bones that support the tongue and larynx…a very large defect in the right ventral larynx…The wound was at least 3cm in diameter when opened…”
You should read the whole article to get a sense of what the poor dog and his owners went through, all for a simple game of fetch with a stick.
Stick Injuries Are Freak Accidents That Never Happen Though Right?
After reading Alfie’s story, I did a little research to see if stick injuries really are that rare. Short answer? No! It happens a lot more than you think!
Robin Hargreaves, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, was quoted in the ‘Telegraph‘ saying he operates on approximately one dog a month due to stick injuries and that most other vets do the same.
The scary thing is, if you think how many vet practices there are, each treating one dog per month, how many dogs nationwide is that each year? It’s a large number!
In support of this, Zoe Halfacre, senior lecturer in small animal surgery at the Royal Veterinary College is quoted in the same article saying that she sees two to three stick injuries per month.
And if you click this link to see a Google search for “Dog stick injuries“, you can read page after page of search results of people’s stories and vets experiences with injuries caused by playing fetch with or chewing sticks.
Scary stuff indeed!
Common Stick Injuries…And What You Can Do In The Emergency
I don’t want to be seen as a scaremonger and being over-dramatic, but I recommend reading the following article from ‘Pawnation.com’ that details the common injuries that can occur from either chewing or running on to thrown sticks: Why you shouldn’t let your dog fetch or chew sticks
There’s a section in that article describing what you can do in the emergency should the worst happen to you and your dog and they run on to a stick causing a puncture wound.
I’ll Never Throw a Stick For Monty to Fetch Again
Quite honestly, I’m a little shocked.
Shocked that it can be so serious, shocked that injuries occur so much more often than I’d ever thought and shocked that I’ve never really known how common this is. It’s been all over the news and the internet for years, how could I have not really known?
I’m glad I’m now better informed and I will NEVER throw sticks for my dogs to fetch or allow them to chew sticks ever again.
Anybody reading this, I hope you’re convinced to do the same?
What Now For Dogs That Love to Fetch Sticks? – Safer Alternatives!
Our Labradors love to retrieve, it’s what they were bred for and so a game of fetch really is ‘in their blood’.
Some labs love to fetch balls, some love to fetch a Frisbee and some love to fetch just about anything they can fit in their mouths! But some truly live to fetch sticks!
For the latter group, it might be very hard to prevent them picking up and chewing sticks no matter how you try. I’ve seen our own dog Monty go running for a ball or toy we thrown and come back with a stick. So…
Kong Safestix To The Rescue!
The world-renowned dog toy manufacturer ‘Kong’ has created a bendable, flexible, durable plastic dog toy shaped to use in place of a stick.
So there’s no need to completely stop your Lab from fetching sticks, just stay away from the sharp splintering wooden kind and go with a Safestix ;-)
They only cost a few dollars, which is a small price to pay to prevent possible disaster. They even float for fetching fun in the water!
Kong Squeezz Squeaky Dog Toy If Your Lab Likes A Sound
An easy to throw, fun to fetch synthetic stick that will ensure no stick injuries playing fetch.
This toy has a protected inner squeaker that makes a noise when your dog picks up and chews the toy which some dogs absolutely love.
It’s made from a very strong, non-toxic material, is available in many colors and due to the odd shape has a random, unpredictable bounce making it more fun to chase.
It’s our duty to keep our dogs as safe as we possibly can.
But sometimes danger is hidden in the everyday things we take for granted and pay no thought to. Stick injuries is a classic example.
I’ve thrown sticks for my dogs since I was 5! They do it in cartoons, in children’s books, it’s what dogs do…they chase sticks!
Well, they shouldn’t…and from now on, mine won’t. Never if I can help it.
So Alfie, sorry to hear what you went through, but through your blog and hopefully now mine, your story can prevent other dogs from injuring themselves by fetching or chewing on sticks.
I’m glad to say that at the time of writing, Alfie has made a great recovery and hopefully this ordeal is now behind him and his family.
There was an update posted for those that would like to catch up…and I think you should check out Alfies Blog anyway as it’s a good and fun read :-) Alfie is Feeling Better – but he really wants a game of fetch
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