Are sticks dangerous for dogs?

For most dogs, any stick that you can chew to pieces is a good stick. This could be because a stick is shaped a bit like a bone, because they enjoy a good jaw workout, or because they’re bored and chewing on a stick helps pass the time.

I recently wrote a blog for YuMOVE, the pet supplement company, on the dangers of encouraging dogs to play with sticks.

The problem is that, although we’ve all heard that you shouldn’t throw sticks for your dog, we know that dogs seriously love a stick.

As I wrote in the blog, all dogs seem to have their favourite type of sticks, too. They know precisely the kind of stick they’re looking for, whether it’s the Staffie triumphantly parading along with a four-foot stick in its mouth or the cockapoo who looks like Winston Churchill chomping on a giant cigar.

Talking of cockapoos, I was inspired by one in particular to write about dog’s discernment when it comes to gathering sticks. Milo, the dog that I borrow, likes to gradually pick up and discard different sticks when we’re out for a walk, until he finds the perfect stick. (This is the one that makes him look like Winston Churchill.)

Then he will hold onto that day’s favourite stick until we get home, generously depositing it on the doorstep for me alongside the other special sticks he’s previously gathered.

I should be more grateful because in effect he has created a miniature art installation for me on my own doorstep.

In the end, it proved tricky to find any definitive evidence on why dogs shouldn’t play with sticks. Plenty of scare stories, few facts. So perhaps I’ll carry on throwing the occasional stick for Milo, so he can bring it home and add it to the decorative pile outside my front door.

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