Are sticks dangerous for dogs? The answer is yes, according to the press  this week. It would appear that the number of dogs being treated by vets for stick induced injuries is on the increase. I have an 18 month old terrier whos day is made by the dangerous game of ‘fetch the stick’. This usually involves each retrieved stick being chewed and shredded whilst I source the next. And now, for her health and wellbeing we have to stop her favourite game and use plastic or rubber toys resembling sticks. I’m not sure she will appreciate the recommended changes being proposed to her daily routine.

As humans, we spend huge amounts of of time through common sense and legislation to improve our own safety, avoid danger and prevent accidents. Gone are the days of riding without a seatbelt, or worse, as a child, sleeping on the rear parcel shelf during longer journeys. Now kids are chastised at the mere chance that they could ride a bike and take to the road (or park) without a helmet. And yet over time we have adopted these changes that have made us safer.

And now the attention of the scare mongers turns to our faithful friends. That their fun and freedoms should be tempered by our desire to improve their well being may at first seem a little heavy handed. But why should we not do all we can to keep our pets safe? OK, so whilst injuries to dogs through stick play may be rare, but not uncommon, is it not our responsibility to offer these animals, who share our house and on whom we lavish our attention, the same safe environment we secure for ourselves? Through common sense (though hopefully not legislation) we should recognise the risks sticks pose and embrace changes in the way we play with our canine companions. So far we have been lucky. We have not had a stick incident. But in the same way I got away without wearing a bike helmet when young, the risks remain. Bike helmets for dogs, maybe not, but for their welfare, change would be no bad thing.