Many dogs love to play and chew sticks. Unfortunately sticks and dogs do not tend to mix well and as vets we see the consequences of this.
Dogs can impale themselves on sticks while playing with them and can end up with splinters in their mouth, throat or oesophagus from chewing sticks.
Red – a very friendly, young Labrador who recently came to us – found this out the hard way.
Red’s owners were starting to get concerned about him due to a foul smell coming from his mouth.
Red was otherwise normal in himself but his owners decided to bring him to be checked out.
To start with we checked Red’s teeth.
These were all lovely and showed no signs of damage or infection.
His lips also looked normal.
Dogs can get an infection in the fold of the lip behind their canine which can cause bad breath, but not here.
Finally we opened Red’s mouth up a bit wider to look at the back and caught a glimpse of a stick bridging Red’s hard palate.
Red was then admitted to the practice for sedation to allow a closer look at the problem.
He was a very good boy and allowed us to place a catheter into his vein.
We injected the medication to sedate him through this and soon he was sleepy enough for a thorough examination of his mouth.
We found a large stick embedded into his hard palate.
This was removed along with some of the underlying tissue which had died.
The remaining tissue was infected so Red was put on to a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories while the wound healed.
During the healing process Red found his mouth to be extremely itchy and started rubbing the side of his face.
This caused a mild infection of his lips. He was given anti-itch tablets and skin wipes to help with this.
It took some time, due to the extent of Red’s wound, but we are very pleased to say that his palate and his lips have now completely healed and Red is back to his adorable self.
I know it is extremely difficult to stop your dogs from chewing or playing with sticks but I hope Red helps to remind you of why sticks tend not to be a good idea.
There are much safer alternatives out there for dogs to chew and play with.
However we understand that you cannot keep them away from sticks all the time so if you think your dog has a stick injury please do not hesitate to call.
Claire Turner is a Veterinary Surgeon at St Vincents Veterinary Surgery, a family-owned practice providing personal care for all your pets in and around Wokingham