Vet Emily Gover of Vale Vets Portishead answers your questions
Q: I read recently that the British Veterinary Association is warning against throwing sticks for dogs. My dog loves to find sticks on walks and I happily throw them for him as he enjoys it so much, what is the harm?
A: We can all agree that it is wonderful to see a dog truly enjoying a walk and any owner would want to encourage such joyful abandon.
Many dogs love a game of fetch and will eagerly find sticks to start this game, but by throwing a stick, an owner could be opening the door to an unplanned visit to the vets for surgery.
We often see injuries from dogs chewing sticks and getting infected splinters in the mouth and tongue causing distress and frequently require anaesthetic to search for and remove the offending material.
The situation we desperately want to avoid is a dog running on to an upright stick or one that has ricocheted unexpectedly and cause major injury.
The RSPCA has documented that they see at least one case a week of traumatic injury due to sticks across the nation and that numerous referral veterinary hospitals are seeing at least 3 cases a month for stick injuries to the airways and oesophagus.
We would always encourage exercising your dog to keep them healthy, but suggest bringing dog safe toys, like balls or soft toys, with you instead of relying on sticks you may find on your walk.