Throwing a stick for your dog while out walking can be as much fun for most dog owners as it is for their dogs and most of the time it is just good fun and a bit more exercise for the dog.
It’s when things go awry that your view of sticks can change.
Vets see some serious, life threatening or even fatal injuries to dogs caused by fetching sticks, either because they’ve landed in the ground like a javelin or because they’ve split in the dog’s mouth.
Terms like ‘penetrative wound’ or ‘impaled’ can make your blood run cold, but if a stick becomes lodged in the ground and your dog can’t stop in time, there’s a strong chance of them suffering penetrative wounds, blood loss or worse if they run onto the stick.
For some dogs it’s chewing on sticks that can cause a problem as they can splinter in the dog’s mouth. If the splinters get lodged in the teeth, soft tissue or tongue this can cause pain, abscesses or dental problems.
While exercise and play is hugely beneficial to dogs and their owners, both from a health and a bonding perspective, rubber toys or frisbees may prove the better option.
If you have a puppy, it’s worth resisting the option to throw sticks for them from the outset – they’re not born with the instinct to play with sticks so if they are not trained to see sticks as exciting playthings, they’ll happily chase, fetch and chew something else instead.
For those that are already drawn to sticks, getting them interested in a new toy may provide a good distraction, or there are a number of ways to train them away from chasing sticks, the easiest being the ‘off’ command (training a dog to recognise when you want it to stop doing something by giving or withholding treats).
Whether you throw sticks for your dog or not, it’s well worth having pet insurance in place in case of any kind of accident or injury, so your pet can have whatever treatment they need, when they need it.
If you would like advice about training or pet insurance or have concerns about your pet’s health, please give us a call on 01453 752555.