I’ll admit that I never thought twice about letting my dog chew on a stick or throwing one to play catch with him. It is quite possibly his most favorite thing to do when we are out on a hike or walk: pick up a stick, carry it around proudly, beg for me to throw it, chase it, chew it. The stick was the cheapest, best toy my pup could want.
But this past summer, I learned a very valuable lesson about sticks. They are not a toy. Your dog should NOT play with them. We were in a dog park, having our usual fun. Monty brought me a stick and did his usual play-bow to encourage me to throw it. I, of course, obliged. The second Monty reached the stick and bit down on it, I heard the most disturbing scream my dog has ever made. He instantly laid down, and I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast in my life to get to him. There was a little blood coming out of his mount, but I couldn’t see anything wrong inside. He perked back up pretty quickly and we walked back home.
That night, he didn’t eat or drink and was not his usual self. I finally decided it was time to get over to the animal emergency room. After many hours and a transfer from the E.R. to a full vet hospital, I learned Monty had been stabbed by the stick. Through the base of his tongue and into his throat.
He had surgery to clean the puncture wound up and close it. When we got home, I googled to see if this was a common situation for dogs with their sticks, and I was shocked to learn it is VERY common. TOO common. How did I not know this?! I was taken aback. But lesson learned, and luckily Monty is perfectly fine now. We have learned to walk with a ball in my pocket so we can avoid using sticks.
I wanted to write about this to warn anyone who may not know or realize the dangers of sticks. It seems so natural to play with a stick with your dog, but PLEASE, PLEASE do not. It is not safe and your dog could become injured or, even worse, die from the wound inflicted. Use approved toys that we all know are safe instead and both you and your pup will be much happier!