Dogs fetching sticks risk injuries and death

  • 21/01/2016

A new warning has been issued to dog owners who play the age-old game of fetch.

It appears that while your dog may love it, chasing sticks is in fact dangerous for them.

To some dogs, a stick is quite simply irresistible. It's not just a muddy piece of wood, but a prized possession hard won in a game of fetch.

But vets are warning dog owners that encouraging their pets to chase sticks could be putting them in danger, risking injuries and even death.

On average, 5000 dogs a month in the US are treated by vets for stick injuries.

It's something dog trainer and veterinary nurse Sandra Strong has seen many times.

She says when they're thrown, the sticks tumble over and over. When caught they can go down the dog's throat.

"There are splinters, you can see them coming off," she says. "If these get caught in the throat then they've got to have an anaesthetic and each splinter has to be removed. It's very dangerous."

So while sticks have been providing hours of free entertainment for dogs and their owners for centuries, the advice is to stick to something safer.

But if sticks have always been dangerous, why is this advice emerging now?

It's all part of the evolving relationship between dogs and their owners over thousands of years.

"If we go back even to the 1930s, dogs were still really there to guard a household," says cultural historian Dr Hilda Kean. "Dogs now are within our house. They are part of our family, so our whole family structure has very much changed versus animals from even just, say, 1930s."

Dog owners are being advised to branch out and try some canine-friendly toys because when it comes to a stick, its bite may be worse than its bark.

Watch the video for the full ITV News report.