Dogs love playing fetch, and picking up a stick to throw for them seems a natural thing to do to many owners. However, it can go horribly wrong: vets across the country often see a vast array of horrifying injuries caused by sticks, some of them even lethal.
Brandy the Staffie is incredibly lucky to be alive: the one-year-old barely dodged death when an 11-inch stick became lodged in her throat during a game of fetch with his owner’s daughter at their home in Shooters Hill, London. Sophia-Jayne Lye was inside the house when she suddenly heard her daughter screaming.
“I rushed out and saw Brandy lying there with a huge stick coming mouth, and I noticed that the other end was pushing out by her chest,” she said. “It was unbelievable. Luckily she was still breathing but I knew we needed to get her help urgently.”
Sophia and her daughter Soe immediately took Brandy to the PDSA Thamesmead Pet Hospital.
PDSA Pet Hospital lead, Laura Davey, said it was one of the worst stick injuries she’s ever seen.
“When we saw Brandy’s injury, we couldn’t believe she was still alive. It was a huge stick and it had travelled right through her mouth and throat and into her chest, narrowly missing her lungs,” she said. The stick had also missed two major arteries by mere millimetres, but even so, the situation was grim. Brandy was rushed in for surgery to remove the stick, and her family was told to expect the worst.
Thankfully, Brandy pulled though – but her story serves as a stark reminder of the danger a simple stick can pose to our dogs. PDSA sees stick-related injuries on a weekly basis across their 48 pet hospitals.
Laura said, “The most serious injuries tend to occur when a dog runs into a stick that has become lodged in the ground after being thrown, and the dog becomes impaled. We don’t want people to stop exercising their pets or even playing fetch, but we want pet owners to use safer alternatives to sticks, such as a dog-safe ball or rubber safe-stick.
“Brandy was incredibly lucky; if the stick had hit an artery it would have been fatal. She was also fortunate to benefit from our lifesaving A&E service, which has received fantastic support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We were able to remove the stick and she went on to make a full recovery. Sadly, not all dogs with injuries like this get such a happy ending.”
Images by PDSA.