Spring is upon us and with the warmer weather comes more outdoor activity, walks and playtime with the family dog. No matter where you are, the park, the beach or on a leisurely stroll playing a game of fetch with Rufus is one of the most natural games between a human and their dog.
How often does our best friend come running over to us in the park with a stick dangling from the side of their mouth ever hopeful that we will engage in just one more throw? It seems harmless enough – everyone seems to do it, you say to yourself – so you throw the stick one more time not realising that each throw is like cocking a gun in a game of Russian roulette.
So why are sticks such a problem?
Sticks have the penetrating properties of an arrow. Stick-related injuries can range from minor scratches to impalement. Sticks can easily pierce the skin and when grabbed by the dogs mouth, they can potentially penetrate all the way through to the esophagus, spinal cord, or major blood vessels of a dog’s neck. Chasing a sharp stick can also lead to the piercing of the eye, chest and abdomen, all of which can cause catastrophic damage. Dogs chasing down a stick at speed can have little opportunity to divert their course or reduce their speed should the stick land poking up out of the ground. Sticks can break and splinter often creating sharp ends making perforation more likely.
Infection, however, can be the most lethal issue related to stick injuries. Sticks are covered in bacteria, fungi and yeast, and any splinters that are left behind become staging sites for these infectants. Every fragment must be removed to reduce the risk of infection, and that can often require multiple surgeries. No one wants to be a party pooper, but sticks pose a preventable risk. Simply switching to safer alternatives means that your dog can still have fun and stay safe. After all, you wouldn’t shoot an arrow at your dog, so why would you throw a stick?
This spring keep your dog safe and reduce the risk of stick related injuries.
- Be prepared – have a number of safe toys that your dog likes to fetch at the ready. Keep a toy in the car or next to your dog’s leash, this way you won’t leave home without it.
- Inspect toys – regularly check for wear and tear. Discard any toys that are showing signs of damage and replace them.
- Invest in KONG safestix – made from brightly coloured, flexible rubber, KONG Safestix are a safe and fun alternative to real sticks. Ideal for games of fetch indoors and out. And they float on water for dogs that love to swim!
Article by KONG Company Pty Ltd.