Stick or Treat? A Tale of Terror…

Caution: Distressing Images in This Article

Now, we don’t like to SCAREmonger here at The Enquirer, but there is a serious issue that people often overlook that is very prevalent this time of year especially – the stick. No, I’m not having any one on, this seemingly idle tree cast away is in fact a serious danger to your pooch and so we’re posting this article to raise specific awareness about unsupervised or particularly high energy games involving sticks and to urge you all to exercise caution this Autumn Season…

So, why is the humble stick such a scare? Simple. A stick has been exposed to the outside air, or worse, the ground, for an unknown period of time. Conditions outside can range from hot, cold, wet, windy, and overall – dirty. So our first concern here is bacteria. Now, we know that our dogs have a high tolerance for bacteria (much more so than we do) and it’s true that the bacteria on it’s own isn’t a problem, but what about when that “crunch” turns into a splinter lodged in a gum/lip? You’re then looking at a wound that has been exposed to unknown bacterium, making it potentially more difficult to heal and running the risk of infection.

Worse, what if your dog, perhaps whilst looking back as if to say, “Mum, Dad, look what I’ve got!” accidentally runs into something or falls – that stick in his/her throat is now a sharp weapon that could pierce the soft skin of the throat or become lodged there, causing significant stress for both dog and owner. The types of wounds that could result, whilst rare, can be horrific to view. Even after the item is removed, the likelihood is that miniscule splinters remain lodged in the surrounding area, increasing the chance of complications in the healing process.

So, what to do instead? Toys made of rubber are just as fun and some toys even have that “crunch” sound to keep your dog interested. Try throwing a Frisbee or purchasing a stick look-alike toy made of safer materials. Now, we’re not saying wrestle a stick away from your dog at the slightest sign of a game! Just be mindful that as the weather becomes cooler, the sticks become more prevalent, more brittle and more likely to break/splinter, presenting a higher risk to our furry friends… The biggest risk is when we play fetch and the stick falls to the ground – our dogs run towards it, full of excitement for the game, and often approach it at speed (mouths open!) which obviously presents a hazard. Whilst these injuries are not massively common (on average one a month) it is never safe to assume that it won’t be us, so we should always be mindful. Vets recommend using alternative toys for your usual games of fetch, keeping you, your pet, and your vet much happier!

Images Courtesy of getwestlondon.co.uk and bluepearlvet.com (via the Daily Mail)

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