Vets warn dog owners of stick risk after cockapoo impaled
Last Updated: 21/03/2023
A cockapoo came within a few millimetres of death after impaling himself on a stick while climbing out of a river.
Three-year-old Badger is the latest stick injury case to be seen by vets which can result in life-changing injuries and lead to death if untreated.
Badger was out for a walk near the family home in Bath when a bit of playing went drastically wrong.
“My husband was with him, and he’d come out of a river with a stick in his mouth,” said Susanna. “He slipped and it hit the bank, got pushed down his throat and was poking out the other side.
“He does like to chase sticks, and this was just a freak accident. My husband called me and when I ran down, I could see this horrendous wound with the stick protruding out of his neck.
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“It was a horrific moment. We were all in a state of shock and Badger looked frozen by what had happened. We didn’t touch the stick and knew we had to get him help right away.”
After being stabilised and given pain relief by Bath Vets, he was referred to Bath Vet Referrals’ surgical team at the practice hospital.
“There was a large entry wound under Badger’s tongue,” said senior referral surgeon Samantha Lane. “The stick had tunnelled through the tissues in his neck to protrude in his shoulder region.
“We operated after performing imaging, but it was complicated because the stick was positioned adjacent to Badger’s larynx and had narrowly avoided his jugular vein.
“But there was no damage to his oesophagus or windpipe, and we managed to remove it without further complications.”
It’s estimated around 1.4 million dogs a year are injured playing with or chewing sticks.
Samantha added: “‘We regularly see stick injuries. If left untreated, complications can be catastrophic and can lead to death if vital structures are penetrated.
“So, if owners want to throw objects for their dogs, we recommend products designed specifically for this like Safestix.”
Badger was given fluid therapy and pain relief and, after a surgical drain was removed a week later, he made a full recovery.
“We’re so grateful to the whole team for the treatment they gave Badger,” said Susanna.
“When we first got Badger to the surgery, I thought he was going to die, and my husband had to take him in as I couldn’t bear it.
“He was unbelievably fortunate as it really was so close to being all over.
“Thankfully he’s fine now, but he’s banned from sticks, and I’d urge any other owner to follow the vets’ advice.”
Bath Vet Referrals is part of My Family Vets, a nationwide network of veterinary practices and referral hospitals.
Recently rebranded, it’s been a well-respected multidisciplinary referral centre in the south-west of England since 2008.
Pets needing highly-specialised care, such as soft tissue surgery, oncology or laparoscopic procedures, are referred to Bath Vet Referrals by their daytime vet.