When I brought my first dog home, it was just a puppy and would love to run around the garden with many bizarre objects hanging from its mouth.
To be honest, it was a bit of a learning curve but I didn't pay much attention to the small objects, unless they were the type that could cause potential harm. Of course, it is difficult to observe and react to every situation, but I would keep a close eye on the puppy as it pranced around with a leaf, the odd twig or flower head.
The fact is that if they are chewing on fairly harmless things (and the garden is full of them) they would not be paying too much attention to the larger sticks and potentially harmful objects - and to be honest younger dogs will usually have little or no interest in the larger objects anyway.
The simple truth though is that larger sticks can cause a lot of harm to a dog. Here are just a few potential risks:
- When dogs chew sticks smaller parts can get stuck in the throat
- Sticks can be sharp and bits can penetrate the gums and back of the throat
- They can also splinter and this could cause injury to the dogs mouth, throat and stomach if swallowed.
In my opinion, you should not throw a real wooden stick for your dog to retrieve. There are many cases where dogs have actually damaged their oesophagus, which can result in the dog having trouble breathing and swallowing.
As mentioned previously, a stick can cause Injury. Just by carrying a stick while running it is not uncommon for a sharp piece to penetrate the soft tissue in the mouth, causing a horrid cut to the tongue, gums or even through the skin in the lip or cheek. If your dog encounters splinters and small broken off fragments of the stick, these are sufficient to pass through the body causing possible abscesses and infections.
Other ways a stick could cause harm to a dog is during play and retrieval. If your dog chases after the stick and lunges at it when in full motion, it could cause the stick to be rammed down the dogs throat, causing injury to the tongue, soft palate, larynx or Trachea. If the palate and tongue are badly damaged this can cause the dog to have long-term eating difficulties.
If a stick gets wedged into the ground and your dog runs into it, this can also cause serious damage to the dogs face or chest. The most vulnerable parts of the head are the eyes and any sort of injury involving a stick could badly damage them and result in the eye having to be removed. There are also many nerves and blood vessels in the face that could be perforated, causing severe damage.
If a stick penetrates the chest area and causes a puncture wound this could be a life threatening injury if involving the lungs or veins within the neck. There is also a possibility that muscles could be torn or ripped which may cause problems with movement and agility.
So if your dog loves to fetch and you like the idea of stick play, why not buy a rubber/plastic stick found in many high street pet shops and online stores.
Most replica sticks that you can buy are made of tough non toxic rubber, which are textured to stimulate and simulate a stick during play. They have rounded ends to prevent them becoming lodged in the ground when thrown.
They are also designed to be easy to throw and easy for dogs to find as they are usually brightly coloured and most of the products on the market will float. The texture will also ensure a decent purchase and will prove easy for the dog to carry and hold onto when they run with it.