Dogs with sticks

Owners have been throwing sticks for dogs for years, and whilst I am not trying to frighten anyone,
I myself was unaware of the dangers until it happened to someone I knew. I have just seen a puppy playing with a stick and it sent shudders down my spine, prompting me to write this.........


Some years ago a friend of mines dog impaled itself on a stick which narrowly missed his heart, it was touch and go for a while, but he was fine after a £5,000 vet bill.


Everytime I see a dog playing with sticks it makes me think of the injuries it can cause. Splinters are probably the most common problem, stuck in the gum where they can lie dormant, they can become infected causing more serious problems.

Large fragments of wood can be swallowed causing irritation, bleeding, and at worst, an obstruction.

Dogs that chase sticks are more likely to suffer fatal injuries than dogs that chew them. A stick can penetrate the roof of the mouth and the tongue, and cause damage to the trachea, teeth, and the esophagus.

Sticks that are thrown can often get stuck in the ground, the dog jumps and lands on the stick causing fatal injuries to the abdomen which affects internal organs including the stomach, liver, spleen, and intestines. Additional damage to the urinary bladder, gall bladder, and the diaphragm often further complicates the surgery that is necessary to save the dogs life.

In the event of a stick injury/impalement......

Get your dog to the vets for treatment as quickly as possible. Delaying the trip to the vets doesn’t just prolong pain, suffering, and distress, it’s likely to increase your dog’s risk of death, too. If possible, call the hospital while en route to advise them of your impending arrival. This will ensure the veterinary team are best prepared to quickly care for your dog when you get there.

Do not remove the stick, leave it in place so its path can be evaluated by the vet. Sometimes the mere presence of the stick is the only thing preventing a massive loss of blood and/or a collapsed lung. Your default action should be to leave the stick in place, if possible and safe to do so.


Prevent the protruding end of the stick from getting caught on anything during transport to the vet. Try not to snap or saw the stick, as the jarring motion that can result from doing so can dislodge the stick or even cause further damage. If you can safely cut the protruding end of the stick, without causing too much vibration or movement, and if doing so won’t unnecessarily delay your arrival at the vet hospital, this can be attempted.


Wrap the protruding end of the stick with a t shirt, towel, or bandage, this will prevent the sharp end of the stick from injuring you, or whoever else is carrying your dog, and also help avoid the stick from migrating further into your dog and causing more internal damage.


If the stick has penetrated the dogs chest, you should try, if at all possible, to keep your dog lying upright, on the bottom part of his chest and his belly, rather than on his side, during the drive to the vet. This will help by allowing the unaffected side of the lungs to work as efficiently as possible to compensate for the damage that is likely to have occurred to the lungs on the side of the stick penetration, and it will help him breath better.

Have fun, play safe, with a Dog Frisbee, a ball, or a KONG SAFESTIX - available from Amazon and pet stores.

Veterinary Centers of America
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
UC Davis
Washington State University
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Dogs Naturally
Dr Conor Brady

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the advice provided by your veterinarian.