Playful dog rushed to vet after stick lodged in back of mouth

A PLAYFUL puppy called Thornton literally bit off more than he could chew – when a stick got stuck in his throat.

Thornton, a five-month-old Border collie, was in owner Katy Nelson’s back garden when he found a piece of wood to nibble on.

And while Katy was busy unloading her camper van after a weekend away, Thornton chewed himself into a spot of bother.

Katy heard a high-pitched yelp from the back garden and rushed out to discover Thornton with part of a stick hanging from his jaw.

She tried to open the pup’s mouth – but Thornton was so distressed that he wouldn’t let her look inside.

When he did let her and partner Charlie take a peek, they could see part of the stick lodged in Thornton’s gums.

To call the vet or not call the vet – that was the question.

Image of Border collie for Vets Now article on dangers of sticks
Five-month-old Border collie Thornton needed emergency treatment after chewing on a stick

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Charlie thought the pair would be able to remove the shard of wood themselves so avoiding a dash to Vets Now in Lincoln, seven miles from their home in the village of Coleby.

But Charlie changed his mind after talking to Katy – and now he’s glad he did because it turned out the wood had left Thornton with a nasty infection.

Sales manager Charlie, 24, said: “I honestly thought we could sort it out ourselves but Katy thought we should probably go to the vets.

“Even if we had been able to get what was left of the stick out of Thornton’s mouth, we’d never have known about the infection and that could have been very serious if it had been left alone.”

Primary school teacher Katy, 25, said: “Thornton is definitely a chewer. He’s quite partial to chewing on wood.

“We’ve got another Border collie, Jesse, who is 18 months old and he’s the opposite. He’s not at all interested in chewing wood and prefers a rubber ball.

“But when Thornton finds a stick he’s like a child with a lollipop.

“We’ve always been very careful not to encourage the dogs to chew sticks. Unfortunately, this time, Thornton managed to get hold of one when my back was turned.

“It’s just as well I heard him when I did because at least I could see the stick and work out what the problem might be.

“If I hadn’t seen the stick I would have been in even more of a panic. It’s quite upsetting to see your dog in pain like that. He was shivering as though he was in shock.

“By the time the vet got to see him, Thornton’s mouth had swollen up so much the vet couldn’t open his jaw.”

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Image of Border collie Thornton for Vets Now article on dangers of sticks to dogs
Thornton enjoying a day out on a boat

Once Thornton was safely sedated, and pain relief had been given, staff were able to remove a 5cm shard of wood which was precariously close to his eye socket.

Emma Panter, principal nurse manager at Vets Now in Lincoln, said: “We received a call from Thornton’s owner on a Sunday to say he’d been chewing on a stick and had been in pain since.

“She brought him in and although he seemed fine otherwise, he was struggling to open his mouth because of the pain and swelling.

“Our vet examined Thornton and discovered a shard of wood on the soft tissue located at the back of the roof of his mouth.

“After discussing his condition with his owner, we sedated Thornton and gently removed the offending wooden material before thoroughly cleaning the wound.”

She added: “Stick injuries are common in dogs – largely because they’re often sharp and dirty and can easily pierce the skin.

“If your dog has been injured by a stick – or has swallowed one – you should seek urgent veterinary advice.

“We would also urge dog owners to avoid throwing sticks and opt for safer toys such as large balls or frisbees instead.”

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Image of border collies injured by sticks for Vets Now
Thornton and his best friend Jesse

Thornton recovered well and we advised his owner to take him back to her daytime vet the following day.

Emma Panter Principle Nurse Manager, Vets Now

Katy admitted she is hugely relieved she insisted on taking Thornton to Vets Now.

She said: “Thornton had his operation at midnight and by 9am the next morning he was back chasing around the garden. That’s the kind of dog he is.

“But the saving grace is that we did decide to go to Vets Now – and because we went they were able to deal with the infection as well as the piece of wood.

“So my honest advice to anyone in the same position would very much be to take your dog to the vet straight away.”

The Vets Now clinic in Lincoln – where Thornton received treatment – was recently rated as “outstanding” in the delivery of emergency and critical care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

It’s one of 55 Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.