He believes owners should routinely be advised against throwing sticks when they first take a puppy for its vaccinations.
He believes owners should routinely be advised against throwing sticks when they first take a puppy for its vaccinations.

Throw a dog a ball, vets say

By Daily Mail Time of article published Jul 15, 2013

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London - It is a game played by dogs and their owners everywhere.

But throwing sticks for pets can cause “horrific injuries” and even kill them, vets warn. Sticks can splinter in the mouth causing dogs to choke, bleed to death or develop a lethal infection.

Instead, owners should use fake bones, rubber balls or Frisbees.

Robin Hargreaves, president elect of the British Veterinary Association, said he operates on about one dog a month seriously injured by a stick.

“Never throw sticks for dogs. Even if you do it now, never do it again,” he warned. “It is a violent incident that causes real damage.

“We have horrendous problems. Imagine ramming a toothbrush at the end of your mouth, except it is spiky.”

Sticks jammed into the ground cause the most injuries. Running towards them with open jaws, dogs can stab themselves or tear their gullets.

Splinters may take numerous operations to remove, costing up to £5 000 (about R75 000).

Hargreaves said thousands of dogs are admitted to veterinary surgeries every year with retrievers, Labradors and collies the worst affected.

He believes owners should routinely be advised against throwing sticks when they first take a puppy for its vaccinations.

He spoke as vets were guided to scan dogs more frequently to detect rogue splinters which might be killing them.

Zoe Halfacree, senior lecturer at the Royal Veterinary College, said she sees three of the injuries a month.

She said: “Owners do not know what the problem is and infections become established before vet attention.”

Occasionally, owners will not notice what has happened until their dog starts to become depressed, by which time an infection can have become very serious, leading to organ failure. - Daily Mail

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