Sticks might seem like quite an obvious way to keep your dog entertained while you're out on a walk.
However, emergency vets have warned against using them after one poor pooch had to have emergency treatment because of a shard of wood that was stuck in her throat for four days.
The stick had broken off in Labrador Marlie's mouth as she chased it while playing - unbeknown to her owners, it could have killed her at any time.
It took numerous blood and plasma transfusions, transatlantic scan results and the skill of the Vets Now surgical team at a leading pet emergency hospital in Manchester, UK, to help save the nine-year-old pooch.
Marlie's owner, Sam Paul explained: "My partner Charlotte and myself had taken Marlie for a walk and were throwing a stick as normal.
"It bounced as she tried to catch it and it went in end-first and came straight back out. She gave a little yelp and shiver but seemed to shake it off and walked home as normal.
"We were a little concerned, though, so we took her to our vet for a check the following morning. They couldn't really see anything and said to just keep an eye on her and they'd look to schedule an endoscopy."
The 29-year-old solicitor went on: "She seemed to be getting better and we had no idea anything was wrong. By the Saturday it looked like she was back to her normal self, then she suddenly coughed and sprayed blood across the room.
"It got worse quite quickly so we put her in the car and rushed her back to our local vet."
Examinations revealed a wound in Marlie's throat and, although surgery was scheduled, her condition deteriorated so much that it was recommended she be transferred to the specialist Vets Now pet emergency hospital.
Sam continued: "It was such a relief to have her in really expert hands. She was given an urgent blood transfusion to try to stabilise her and an endoscopy and it was during that she started bleeding heavily and needed surgery.
"We heard that to speed up the results of the CT scan, it was sent to a centre in Canada and came back in record time showing up the piece of stick."
The lengthy procedure required the entire hospital team to work closely together.
Advanced practitioner Paul Aldridge carried out the intricate surgery to repair Marlie's wounds and Simon Hagley, a specialist in emergency and critical care, oversaw the emergency treatment.
Simon said: "Marlie's bleeding was among the worst I've ever seen and her case was a great example of the team working together between disciplines to save a life.
"After she started haemorrhaging we rapidly administered two units of blood and three of plasma and everyone involved did a fantastic job to get her through it.
"She had to remain in the hospital for quite a few days afterwards so the entire team had a part to play in her recovery.
"It's wonderful to hear she's on the mend. But it does demonstrate that sticks are not suitable toys for dogs. While it's rare to see a wound as severe as this, we often see cases of sticks injuring the mouth and throat."
Even after the operation was over, Marlie was far from out of the woods as there were various complications, including abnormal heart rhythms and the potential for pneumonia.
"Charlotte and I spent five hours sitting in the car park at Vets Now just to be near her during the surgery," added Sam.
"We were devastated when we knew the extent of her injuries and it was so tense as it could have either way. And then we were told the next 24 to 48 hours would be critical, so our worries still weren't over. It was a really anxious wait."
Marlie regained her strength, was allowed home three days later and is on course to make a full recovery.
Sam concluded: "It was amazing to see her for the first time and we know that if it hadn't been for Vets Now she would have died.
"It's crazy that something as simple as catching a stick could have caused all this, and that she had it inside her for all those days without showing any signs."
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