A warning has been issued to dog owners after a young Labrador spent three days in intensive care after it was playing with a stick.
Brodie was playing in the garden when he started to have breathing difficulties as the back of his throat had swollen significantly.
After being called by his owner, the stick he had in his mouth at the time hit the ground, forcing it down into his throat.
It went down puppy's mouth so deeply that it began to scrape the surface of his voice box.
The eight-week-old pup ended up in high-dependency care for three days needing oxygen, tracheotomy tube care, IV fluids, tube-feeding and multiple medications.
Prue Neath, the clinical director at N orthwest Veterinary Specialists in Runcorn, who is a specialist in small animal surgery said: “A day after the incident, he was suffering from breathing difficulties and gagging.
"An examination revealed extensive swelling of the back of his throat. The emergency clinic had to place a tracheotomy tube as his throat was becoming obstructed by swelling.
“He was transferred to our care the following day and fortunately, a CT scan confirmed there were no signs of the stick tearing through the wall of Brodie’s throat.
"This meant extensive surgery could be avoided and we were able to place a feeding tube through the side of his neck."
Further examinations then showed the swelling had resolved and the voice box was healing well.
Prue added: “Following his check-up, Brodie is now doing extremely well and is full of mischief!”
Fortunately, Brodie has been able to make a full recovery thanks to the care provided but the vet said that this case was an example of why owners should try and avoid letting their dogs play with sticks.
Prue said: “Clearly exercise is essential for a dog’s physical health and mental wellbeing but it should be both good fun and safe play.
“Sticks present a host of dangers, ranging from being impaled on one that’s become stuck in the ground, damage to the mouth, throat and stomach from catching and inadvertently swallowing sticks and also from infections caused by penetrating fragments of wood.
“We’re advising all our dog owners to use dog-safe toys as alternatives to sticks to minimise the risk of some of the dramatic cases we’ve seen here recently.”