Does your dog love to fetch or chew on sticks? These activities may be common and seem totally harmless, but in actuality, playing with sticks poses some major risks for canines. Below are five possible injuries that can occur, ranging from minor to life threatening:
1. Splinters: Although not a serious injury, splinters in the tongue or under the gumline aren’t a whole lot of fun for dogs.
2. Tooth damage: When fragments break off of a stick, they can become lodged between the teeth, which can result in tooth damage (not to mention pain).
3. Digestive tract irritation, damage, or obstruction: Swallowing sharp pieces of a stick can cause bleeding, irritation, and sometimes even obstruction in the digestive tract.
4. Trachea irritation, infection, or obstruction: Inhaling stick fragments into the respiratory tract can irritate, infect, or obstruct the trachea. If a piece of stick manages to penetrate the trachea, lung damage, chest infection, heart damage, and blood vessel damage can all occur.
5. Puncture wounds: When the stick actually penetrates the body, serious injury and complications can occur. A mouth puncture wound can result in damage to the tongue, pharayngeal tissue, or even the sinuses or the brain. Another common site of puncture wounds is the eye, which can result in vision or brain damage. A puncture wound might occur when a dog pounces on a stick that was thrown or accidentally runs into the sharp end of a stick that his owner is holding.
Always seek immediate veterinary attention should a serious injury occur. Unfortunately, treatment of stick related injuries can be complicated. Small wood fragments are sometimes missed during surgery and don’t always show up on x-rays, making further infection and complications possible.