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Dog Stick Injuries

Scamp is an energetic cocker spaniel.
So when he arrived looking a bit quiet, I knew he wasn’t well.

His owners told me that he was eating more slowly than usual. He had been drooling for no
apparent reason. His drool was tinged with blood, and his mouth smelled foul.
When I ran my hands gently over his jowls, I could feel a large painful swelling under his
jawbone. He was standing quietly, which was very out of character, but he refused to allow
me to open his mouth wide.

I asked the simple question, “Do you throw sticks for Scamp to fetch?”, and received the
reply that he does love to have something to retrieve, and sometimes they forget to take his
ball on his walks with them, so a stick comes in handy to burn off all that energy.
I had to anaesthetise him, to see the problem.

There was a small puncture wound under his tongue leading back towards the flesh around
his throat. Pus was oozing out from the swelling into his mouth.
After some considerable gentle exploration, I found a two inch piece of stick and was able to
eventually ease it out. I hoped that I hadn’t left any splinters in there, as the infection was not
going to go away until all the foreign material was out. We lavaged the wound, and drained
it.

Luckily for Scamp he healed after this first operation. But I have known other dogs who have
required multiple procedures and even CT scans before all splinters from a stick injury have
been removed. This means months of pain and discomfort, not to mention the bills, all of
which were preventable.

We very rarely hear of stick injuries when a dog merely chews on a stick, although it is
possible. It seems statistically to be a much higher risk if a dog chases a thrown stick,
misjudges and impales themselves onto it.

Please do not throw a stick for your dog in play. Even if they beg you to. Bring a ball or play
hide and seek instead.

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