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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Trouble with Sticks....

Ziva's Stick Incident

Turns out that sticks aren't nearly as safe as many dog owners think.

Our poor little Ziva got a hold of a stick by the end rather than the middle and took off running with it yesterday morning.

Holding it kind of like this:  Normally sticks are not part of play, Ziva loves to fetch tennis balls. It just so happened that she found a stick she felt like playing with on this occasion.

By Spider.Dog from United Kingdom via Wikimedia Commons
My poor husband saw the whole thing happen, Ziva grabbed the stick while they were out playing in the field, she then took off running holding the end of the stick in her mouth. Well it was a long stick about 2 feet in length, the end that she wasn't holding dipped and hit the ground jabbing the stick deep into her throat.

Panic ensued as the stick was temporarily stuck inside her throat, by the time my husband reached her she had managed to dislodge it but was very scared, crying and cringing. Luckily I was just driving past them on my way to the store so he flagged me down and said take her straight into the vet!

The stick had a bit of blood on it but we couldn't see any more bleeding inside her mouth so we figured the injury was deep inside her throat.

Well typical of a bully, she perked up a bit on the car ride and tried to put on a brave face (probably hoping to avoid a vet visit). Our regular vet was able to see us immediately and little Ziva was a perfect angel about letting the vet look into her mouth (attempt to see around her tongue) and check for injuries. Well the vet couldn't see anything so she gave us two options:
  1. Give her antibiotics to prevent infection if their is a small injury, and watch her for signs of problems.
  2. Sedate Ziva so that the vet could look deeper with a flashlight and a camera for any injuries in her throat.
Our vet said that Ziva seemed okay so option #1 would probably be fine, and she told me that they see lots of dogs in the summer/fall months due to stick related injuries.

Poor Ziva was pretty sedate the rest of the day but we figured she was mostly wore out from the river and all the fun over the weekend, Dante was resting up too. She ate a little bit for dinner and was drinking water just fine. But we noticed the swelling getting worse, and poor Ziva not wanting to open her mouth probably due to it being sore.

Worrying as usual - I decided that I might feel better if the vet took a closer look after all but we would wait to see how she was feeling in the morning first. I really didn't want to deal with the emergency vet again.

*Poor Ziva contracted giardia last summer - click HERE for more on Giardia.  A nasty parasite that caused her to have terrible diarrhea and become extremely dehydrated. We had a terrible experience with the emergency vet that I had to bring her in to see.*

So this morning poor Ziva was definitely showing signs of soreness and the swelling had increased a bit, so off to the vet we once again went!

The appointment didn't take very long, but I had to drop her off and our vet instructed me that I would receive a phone call when Ziva is ready for pickup (they like to monitor animals going into and out of sedation for safety reasons).

Good News!  She'll be fine. She has a small laceration inside her mouth under her tongue which is healing nicely, and she bruised one of her tonsils really bad (hence the swelling). The vet will be sending her home with anti-inflammatories and pain killers.

Poor puppy not feeling very well...
So after doing some research here is what I have learned about sticks:

Common Stick Related Injuries
  • Small wood splinters can become embedded in the tongue, laryngeal tissues, and under the gum line.
  • Large wood fragments can become embedded between teeth or embedded into the palate resulting in damage to teeth or palate and requiring surgery.
  • Fragments can be swallowed - causing bleeding and potential obstruction in their digestive tract.
  • Small pieces can be inhaled into the trachea - causing obstructing, irritiation or infection in the respiratory tract. These pieces can also puncture the trachea or lungs resulting in chest infections or heart damage.
  • Puncture wounds to body, impalement.

Needless to say we'll be careful of sticks next time! 

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