Throwing sticks for dogs can be "dangerous" and cause "horrific injuries", a leading vet has warned pet owners.
Grace Webster, president of the British Veterinary Association in Scotland, said the alert followed a increase in the number of dogs hurt while playing the traditional game of 'fetch'.
She told The Times: “Throwing sticks for your dog can be dangerous and lead to horrific injuries that can be very distressing for both you and your dog, such as causing cuts to their mouths and tongues or, as in this case, getting the stick lodged in their throat.”
“Even when the initial wound is treated, splinters of wood have often got stuck and require subsequent operations.”
She said many of the injuries happen when a dog attempts to pick up pieces of wood at speed, which can result in it being forced into the mouth and throat.
The case of a smooth collie called Maya was cited as an example. Maya was playing fetch with her owners, Catherine Pryde and David Ashton, of Gartcosh, Lanarkshire, when a four-inch splinter lodged in her throat, causing a punctured tongue and dislodged voice box.
Mr Ashton said: “I’m absolutely devastated by what happened. How many people throw a stick for their dog to chase? It could happen to anyone.
“Maya didn’t kick up much of a fuss and was just really quiet all day. The first time I realised that something was wrong was when she refused to eat any treats.
"The stick was lodged so deep in her throat that when I opened up her mouth I couldn’t see anything. I’m so much more conscious of throwing anything for either of my dogs to play with.”
The vet who treated Maya, Sarah Stevenson, said she had noticed a rise in the number of dogs admitted with injuries from sticks.
“Stick injuries may not be initially obvious and may cause long term problems," she said.
"For these reasons, we are warning pet owners against throwing or encouraging their dog to play with or chase sticks."
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