Throwing sticks for your dog can cause injury and even fatality, warn vets after dog nearly dies

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For many dogs (and their parents) sticks make the ideal toys for a classic game of fetch – they’re easy to throw and easy to pick up, but vets from a leading UK charity have warned after a young dog nearly died playing with a stick recently.

Scooby, a one-year-old English Bull Terrier cross in Berkshire, England, needed emergency surgery after a stick he bit down on got stuck in the roof of his mouth.

His owner, Louise, told Reading Today, “Scooby loves to jump and we were playing in the garden when he jumped up to snatch the stick and disaster happened.

“Blood started pouring from his mouth and began to pool on the floor. He didn’t even yelp or cry out in pain, he just went quiet and withdrawn. I scooped him up and took him inside straight away.”

Although the bleeding stopped, Louise decided to contact the PDSA, a veterinary charity. They told her to head to her closest PDSA Pet Hospital, where vets saw Scooby immediately. After being examined thoroughly, they told Louise that he’d had a lucky escape, and sent him home with an anti-inflammatory pain relief injection as well as other medication.

PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing says, “Chasing and playing with sticks might seem like lots of fun for your dog, but many owners are unaware of the horrible injuries they can cause.

“Sticks can impale your dog if they get lodged in the ground after being thrown or cause nasty cuts in the mouth and throat which can bleed a lot, as well as longer-term problems from splinters.

“In the worst-case scenario, should a stick impale your dog, the injury could be fatal. It’s difficult to watch our dogs all the time but we should try to encourage them to play with pet-friendly toys instead.”

So, should you throw a stick for your dog? Altogether, it’s not recommended, as it can lead to serious injury and, unfortunately, sometimes even death. While many dogs over the years have played with sticks and suffered no ill effects, it’s just not worth the risk and we suggest you opt for one of the best dog toys instead. Or why not take a look at some fun games to play with dogs, instead? There’s not a stick in sight!

KONG Flyer dog toy $13.99 from Amazon

KONG Flyer dog toy
$13.99 from Amazon
Enjoy safe playtimes with your pup with this fun KONG frisbee made from durable natural rubber and featuring a fun and dynamic rebound.

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.