Dogs and sticks

It may seem innocent enough to throw a stick for your dog or let them chew on one, but they can cause serious injuries.

How can a stick injure my dog?

Sticks come in different sizes and weights, this means that when you throw them, they can be unpredictable in how far they’ll go, which direction they’ll travel in and how they’ll bounce off the ground.

Pair this with the danger of thorns and other branches on the stick itself and it makes for a dangerous toy for your dog.

Injuries can range from mild to life threatening, whether you’re throwing a stick or letting your dog chew on it, and can include:

  • splinters in your dog’s gums
  • choking on bits of the stick
  • eye injuries
  • cuts on your dog’s body
  • bacterial infections
  • the stick impaling your dog’s body

We have seen cases of sticks being caught end-on and impaling a dog’s throat as they’ve caught it. This can leave splinters deep in the soft tissue at the back of their throat which has been known to cause permanent damage and pain. In one very sad case we have seen, the owner had to make the difficult decision of putting their dog to sleep because sadly, the dog was in too much pain.

Why do dogs like sticks?

Sticks are multi-sensory, meaning that they excite a few of our dog’s senses. They may like sticks because they:

  • have new smells
  • taste interesting
  • have different bumps and grooves on them that make them fun to chew

Chewing sticks

Dogs are often introduced to sticks as puppies. For a teething puppy a stick seems like a perfect companion, offering an outlet for their sore gums. It makes it easy for them to fall into the bad habit of chewing sticks for the rest of their life.

Throwing sticks

Our furry friends love a game of chase and, if it happens to be chasing after a stick, then they’ll happily play along. 

Dogs often love the game, more than the stick itself.

What should I use instead of sticks?

There are plenty of other ways to engage your dog in play when out and about, as well as offering alternatives for chewing.

What to throw instead of sticks

Safe alternatives for playing chase are:

  • a ball – always choose a ball that’s big enough for your dog so that it’s not a choking hazard. An ideal ball toy is one that has two balls on it with a rope attaching them.
  • rope toys
  • fake stick toys – these are often made of rubber or plastic so are soft and safe to play with

What to offer to chew instead of sticks

Luckily there are lots of chew toys out there that will keep your dog busy. 

We recommend these safe alternatives: 

  • rask
  • chew stick
  • dental rawhide
  • pressed hide
  • large and medium Kongs