Playing a fun game of fetch with your best friend is one of life’s simple pleasures and not one you’d expect to end in the emergency hospital. It may still come as a surprise to some dog owners to hear that as well as being a choking hazard, sticks can cause severe trauma to the mouth, throat and chest. Splinters can cause infection after fragments get stuck, and sharp sticks can cause horrific injuries, by piercing through to internal organs, or even impaling a dog when they over-excitedly run into one sticking out of the ground or enthusiastically lunge at it flying through the air. All and all, sticks are a dangerous toy best avoided.

Flip the Kelpie

Seven-year-old Kelpie Flip was playing with fur-dad Wayne in their local park one sunny afternoon when he caught a stick. It wasn’t until later that night that Wayne found Flip excessively drooling with difficulty closing his mouth. Stick injuries can often stay under the radar for days to even weeks before being noticed, meanwhile growing dangerously more infected. Upon examination, Dr Chelsea at our Carrara clinic found the stick had perforated the soft tissue into a nerve. Ouch! The wound was cleaned up via an endoscopy and after a night of (no doubt very welcomed) pain relief and antibiotics, Flip recovered well, returning home the next morning.

Stick Injury Symptoms

  • Excessive drooling (might be bloody)
  • Panting and trouble breathing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling around the mouth or neck
  • High temperature

There is no doubt that physical activity and fun playtime are beneficial for dog and human alike, but next time ditch the splinters for throw toys made of rubber and frisbees instead, and train your dog to avoid sticks.

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