5 games to avoid playing with your dog 

Does your dog love playing fetch with sticks or tennis balls, diving for rocks, chewing on hooves, antlers, ice-cubes or chasing bikes and cars? It is time to change these behaviours. Why?

Fetch with sticks

Wooden sticks and branches posses a risk of dental fractures if your dog likes to intensively chew on them. Small and sharp wooden particles may also damage the gingiva and other soft tissues of the oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract, potentially leading to abscessation and/or digestion problems. We also strongly discourage you to play fetch with sticks with your dog – this is an extremely dangerous game as sticks may cause life-threatening piercing of vital organs. Believe me, you do not even want to see photos of what we have seen :/

Diving for rocks

While you may enjoy seeing your dog jumping carefree in the water, this can be another dangerous game ending with different traumatic injuries to your dog. Among those, dogs who love to dive for rocks, commonly have severe abrasion of teeth and/or suffer dental fractures.

Chewing on hooves, antlers, ice-cubes

We may prepare or even buy many objects that are considered fun for dogs to play with and chew on, but hard objects are definitely not safe. These objects may cause obstruction of gastrointestinal tract if swallowed and they can also cause dental fractures. Remember that bite forces in dogs (3400 N) may greatly exceed those required (in average 1280 N) to fracture the maxillary fourth premolar tooth.

Fetch with tennis balls

The greatest threat in playing fetch with tennis balls is the abrasive surface of these balls. The risks of severe dental abrasion are even higher, if your dog loves to play in a sand field or beach.

Chasing bikes and cars

If your dog keeps chasing bikes and cars you just have to stop this behaviour. It is not only dangerous for the people involved, your dog can also suffer severe and life-threatening traumatic injuries of the head and body when chasing cars. One of the likely injuries is fracture of the lower jaw just behind the canine teeth with luxation or avulsion of the teeth. While this per se is not life-threatening, it has to be addressed as an emergency and the treatment may be complex requiring several procedures.

Selected references:

1. Brassard C, Merlin M, Guintard C, Monchâtre-Leroy E, Barrat J, Bausmayer N, Bausmayer S, Bausmayer A, Beyer M, Varlet A, Houssin C, Callou C, Cornette R, Herrel A (2020). Bite force and its relationship to jaw shape in domestic dogs. J Exp Biol 223(Pt 16):jeb224352.

2. Castejón-González AC, Stefanovski D, Reiter AM (2022). Etiology, clinical presentation, and outcome of mandibular fractures in immature dogs treated with non-invasive or minimally invasive techniques. J Vet Dent 39(1):78-88.

3. Kim SE, Arzi B, Garcia TC, Verstraete FJM (2018). Bite forces and their measurement in dogs and cats.Front Vet Sci 5:76.

4. Soltero-Rivera M, Elliott MI, Hast MW, Shetye SS, Castejon-Gonzalez AC, Villamizar-Martinez LA, Stefanovski D, Reiter AM (2019).
Fracture limits of maxillary fourth premolar teeth in domestic dogs under applied forces. Front Vet Sci 5:339.

5. Wolfs E, Arzi B, Guerrero Cota J, Kass PH, Verstraete FJM (2022). Craniomaxillofacial trauma in immature dogs-etiology, treatments, and outcomes. Front Vet Sci 9:932587.