For generations, dog owners have loved throwing sticks for their pets to chase and retrieve. But the game has been branded dangerous by a senior vet.
The warning came after a collie called Maya suffered a punctured tongue and displaced voicebox when a piece of wood became stuck deep in her throat.
Grace Webster, of the British Veterinary Association, said: "Most owners and dogs think throwing a stick is great fun.
"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 have often got stuck and require subsequent operations."
She advised using alternative toys such as rubber sticks from pet shops, balls or Frisbees.
Maya's owner Catherine Pryde, from Scotland, took her to the vet when she started limping and refusing to eat and drink after their usual game of chasing a stick.
She said: "They sedated her and then pulled out this long stick from her throat."
Her fiance David Ashton, 43, said: "How many people throw a stick for their dog to chase? It could happen to anyone. The stick was lodged so deep in her throat that when I opened up her mouth I couldn't see anything. From now on we'll be throwing toy plastic sticks which are a lot less likely to be swallowed."
Maya has recovered after surgery where staff said they had an increasing number of dogs with injuries from sticks. Sarah Stevenson said: "In Maya's case, the stick went through the underside of her tongue and displaced her larynx, causing severe pain and her unwillingness to eat or drink.
"Stick injuries may not be initially obvious and may cause long-term problems. For these reasons, we are warning pet owners against throwing or encouraging their dog to play with or chase sticks."
- Daily Mail