Vets have urged dog owners to stop throwing STICKS for their pets because it is too dangerous.
The warning from a senior vet came after one dog suffered horrific injuries during the seemingly harmless activity.
Maya a smooth-haired collie punctured her tongue and displaced her voicebox when a four-inch splinter from a stick became stuck deep in her throat.
Grace Webster, president of the British Veterinary Association in Scotland, said: “Most owners and dogs think throwing a stick is great fun.
“But so many injuries could be avoided by throwing safe alternatives like rubber sticks from pet shops, balls or Frisbees instead.
“Throwing sticks for your dog can be dangerous and lead to horrific injuries that can be very distressing for both you and your dog, such as causing cuts to their mouths and tongues or, as in this case, getting the stick lodged in their throat.
“Even when the initial wound is treated, splinters of wood have often got stuck and require subsequent operations.”
Maya started limping and refusing to eat and drink but owner Catherine Pryde had no idea what the problem was until she took her to the vet.
Catherine, 52, of Gartcosh, Lanarkshire, Scotland, said: “I was out for a walk with my mum and, as usual, Maya wanted me to throw a stick for her.
“She was racing along and the next thing she stopped suddenly and started limping.
“I thought at first she had stood on something but when we got back to the house she wouldn’t open her mouth and was very subdued.
“She wouldn’t eat and drink, and later on her jawline became swollen.”
“We took her to the vet and they sedated her and then pulled out this long stick from her throat.”
Catherine’s fiance David Ashton, 43, said: “How many people throw a stick for their dog to chase? It could happen to anyone.
“Maya didn’t kick up much of a fuss and was just really quiet all day. The first time I realised that something was wrong was when she refused to eat any treats.
“The stick was lodged so deep in her throat that when I opened up her mouth I couldn’t see anything.”
“I’m so much more conscious of throwing anything for either of my dogs to play with.
“From now on we’ll be throwing toy plastic sticks which are a lot less likely to be swallowed.
“For people like us, these are our kids. They’re a part of the family and it’s horrible to not have them for even a day. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
Maya has now recovered after surgery at Bishopbriggs Veterinary Centre in Glasgow where staff said they were seeing an increasing number of dogs with injuries from sticks.
Sarah Stevenson said: “In Maya’s case, the stick went through the underside of her tongue and displaced her larynx, causing severe pain and her unwillingness to eat or drink.
“Stick injuries may not be initially obvious and may cause long-term problems.
“For these reasons, we are warning pet owners against throwing or encouraging their dog to play with or chase sticks.”