Fetching a stick turns ugly…

January 8, 2012

Emergency Dogs, Rare Cases

‘Major’ walked into the clinic and our vet team was stupified. Every staff member that was cruising past me kept saying:

‘Have you seen that dog with the stick injury?’.

I was starting to get edgy because I was still finishing up a procedure and was now dieing to see what the whole fuss was about. Suddenly I was equally captivated and silenced by the image of this placid German Shepherd with a decent sized stick hanging out of his eyeball while he was placed in a cage in front of me.

For those of you who can’t stomach any real gory images then I recommend you refrain from reading the rest of this blog as it is full of such images.

Ian, my vet colleague, immediately gave ‘Major’ a sedative/premed without examining the severity of the stick wound. There was no reason to poke and prod the patient until he was under full general anaesthetic.

Ian, however, had to explain to Major’s owners that based on his quick assessment, ‘Major’ was most likely going to require an eye enucleation.

This is ‘Major’ when he was first admitted and given his sedation.

rare stick wound

I happened to be loitering around and actually had some free time to closely observe the whole procedure. They put Major under full general anaesthetic shortly after he was sedated.

Major had just been induced with IV alfaxalone (induction agent) at this stage and was going to be intubated next.


Finally the moment of truth, Major was intubated and anaesthetized. It was time to fully assess his horrific stick injury!

major stick dilemma

Close up of the STICK IN EYE!

Close up of major's stick-eye injury

Don’t ask me how but Ian did a terrific job and managed to pull the stick out carefully and without any major complications.

The stick had miraculously not punctured Major’s eye globe but instead managed to wedge itself between the eye globe and socket!!!

This image was taken after the stick had been removed and illustrates how much of the stick had been lodged within Major’s eye socket.

post stick

Ian then vigorously flushed the involved site and even infused antibiotics into it to prevent the formation of an abscess. The whole eye was severely swollen and had a constricted non-responsive pupil.

At this stage, the viability of the eye was in serious question but it was worth trying to save it.

Ian then performed a 3rd eyelid flap to protect Major’s eye.

Major the day after his procedure with his 3rd eyelid flap.

major 3rd eyelid flap

While Major has made an excellent recovery, the outcome of his injured eye is still unknown.

This week, we will be reversing the 3rd eyelid flap and fully assessing the functionality and viability of his eye.

 In this picture, you can see Major is such a softie; shaking hands in the hope of getting a liver treat.

major shaking hands

Major is one of the sweetest German Shepherd we have ever met. Let us keep our fingers and toes crossed for a really good outcome.

Those kind of accidents get you thinking, don’t they? Would you play fetch a stick with your dog after reading about this case?

Personally, I prefer my dogs chasing a bouncing ball over a stick.

However, it is important that we all remain reasonable and realize accidents do happen and so we don’t want to get overly paranoid.

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Hi I am Dr. Rayya. I created this site to take you on a journey of my life as a vet! I hope to inspire you, teach you, learn from you. Most importantly help pet owners and animals around the world by sharing pictures, videos and posts from my everyday experiences.

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68 Comments on “Fetching a stick turns ugly…”

  1. Animalcouriers Says:

    Good luck Major – you’re in great hands! Hope you’re one lucky boy and do have two working eyes.


  2. sonia Says:

    Wow. but I’ve seen a kid with a stick in her eye. Hope he recovers and has a great life.


  3. becomingcliche Says:

    Oh, my gosh! I hope his eye is okay!


  4. "Lyle" Says:

    I have always been squeamish about dogs fetching sticks. I’ve seen them wedged in all sorts of ways in the mouth over the years (and we once had one that was punctured through the trachea… it did not end well), but never through the eye socket. What a bizarre case. I hope the eye comes out okay, please keep us updated!


  5. himanshu vats Says:

    my dog is severly unwell
    she’s vomiting & passing bloody stools
    took her to vet & she got 8 injections
    yet she’s not better
    am so worried for her
    she’s loosing weight rapidly
    as she’s not eating for last 3 days
    4 different injection twice at an interval of 6 hours
    2 for vomiting
    1 for loose stool & one antibiotic
    i only remember the name of antibiotic
    it was gentamicine
    2ml* & ya one was atropine
    …… i don’t know what to do …. am scared & i need urgent help …….


    • Dr. Rayya Says:

      Dear himanshu. You must take her back to your vet or find another one. If she has haemorrhagic gastroenteritis, she needs to be fasted for 48 hours and put on an iv drip and iv antibiotics. Unfortunately I can’t give you ant mire information because I haven’t examined your dog. Hope she or he gets well soon.


  6. magsx2 Says:

    I would of never thought that something like that could happen just by playing with a stick, luckily my dog loves her ball, and goes wild over frizbees.
    I wish Major the very best of luck, and hope all goes well.


  7. Donkey Whisperer Farm Says:

    Oh my this was really hard to read and view as I love all the animals so, very informative and a great warning.

    Will you keep us updated to the status of Major? Lucky dog to have you as the vet.


    • Dr. Rayya Says:

      I totally understand how hard it must be fir you to hear about an animal suffering from pain. I will definitely give you a progress report in Major later thus week.


  8. barb19 Says:

    Major was lucky I guess, in that the stick didn’t actually pierce his eyeball.. I hope the eye recovers completely and his sight isn’t affected, but I know he is in good hands.
    Please keep us updated on his progress Rayya.


  9. Cowboy Says:

    Howdy Doc –

    An exceptional remedy for Major, hoping the optic nerves weren’t damaged. Your case write-ups and photos are always great.

    Thanks for linking to the post on the rescue Danes. There are rescue groups world wide for almost all breeds, it always helps to get the word out to so we can hopefully keep a few animals from just being abandoned.

    Looking forward to your next write-up and photos of a case………..


    • Dr. Rayya Says:

      Hey cowboy. I totally support your passion to spread the word about all these lovely giants looking fir new homes. I will keep in sharing those cool cases.


  10. Britt Says:

    I know anything can go wrong but looking at this I am so glad my boy prefers playing fetch with stuffed toys 😦 poor Major, I hope he recovers well and fast.

    In saying that though my boy has ripped one of back nails & it’s hanging off at the moment, so even self inflicted wounds are just as bad!


  11. Kim Says:

    Wow! I know things like this can happen, but it’s really shocking to see it. I certainly hope this sweet dog can make a full recovery. I don’t throw sticks for my dogs but my Border Collie does run around looking for sticks to pick up. You can bet I’ll be a little more paranoid about this habit after seeing these photos.


  12. Jo Woolf Says:

    You do the most amazing job – I hope he makes a full recovery. Thank you so much for your link under ‘Latest Good Reads’! Much appreciated.


  13. Thomas Aaron Says:

    I worry about stuff like that with my hunting dog, who is always bounding through fields and brushy areas. Good job, though, getting the dog all patched up.


  14. Prettysleepy Says:

    Poor, poor big guy! Ouch!


  15. 2browndawgs Says:

    I did have to scroll the pictures, 🙂 but I have heard of that injury with hunting dogs.


  16. engchick23 Says:

    Poor guy! I couldn’t bear the images (kudos to you for having the stomach to take them and help your injured patient), but I enjoyed reading about the procedure. I’m glad there are caring, hard working folks out there like you and your team!

    Keep up the great work! 🙂


  17. Anthony Says:

    Hi Dr Rayya, Major is an amazing dog,( having known him for some time),,,,,,,you have made Debbie and Geoff very, very happy folks, thank you for your efforts in making him well, keep up the extraordinary work.
    wishing you and your team all the best.




    • Dr. Rayya Says:

      Dear Anthony. I really appreciate your very awesome feedback. There is nothing more rewarding than doing our job to the best of our ability and our efforts being recognized. Major is a very special boy and we are so happy with the outcome. 🙂


  18. Mel Says:

    Hi there – Major is my mum’s dog and I just wanted to take this opportunity to commend you on your service. He is a beautiful boy and was indeed very lucky. I’ve spent this week at my mums house and can report that he’s doing really well. He was lucky to be in such caring and skillful hands. Not all surgeries would have provided the love and support you have. I myself have a 18month golden retriever and an older ginger long haired cat. I know how important it is to have a vet you can trust in – and luckily Major was in good hands. Thanks for investing your time and efforts in him and his speedy recovery.


  19. Dr. Rayya Says:

    Hey Mel. I am feeling very humbled by your very kind words. Major is such a sweet boy and was a brilliant patient. He was so trusting and allowed us to do our jobs to the best of our abilities. My colleague Dr. Ian Anderson did ace work for sure and our whole team fell in love with Major and wanted to ensure his speedy recovery. We are thrilled about being able to save his eye!


  20. Laurie Bartolo Says:

    Dr. Rayya, thank you for sharing this story. I’m so glad that Major is doing better. I am actually working on a fun post about my dog playing with a stick but will link to this post to emphasize the importance of supervising dogs with sticks (and of course, other toys). Praying for a speedy recovery for Major!


  21. Kirby Says:

    I was there when we released him – I was amazed at the stick and at how sweet he was!


  22. Deb Says:

    Being the proud “pet” of my German Shepherd, who LOVES chasing anything you throw for her….yes, sticks is one of her main toys (they make solid rubber “sticks” btw 😉 ) I’m so glad Major came out ok and obviously had great vets puttin him back together!! German Shepherds, and many other breeds, can and will be very trusting when they feel they’re in the hands of someone that is helping them. I’m in my early 50’s and have been around GSD’s my entire life and everyone of them would let me do anything I wanted to with them as long as it caused them no harm or discomfort! The one I have now, that “owns” me, is 6 years old, she lets me & my 10 yr. old grandgirl do whatever we want with her, but I do beleive alot has to go with how they are raised, so I’d like to send a little praise to Major’s owner for bringing him up to have that gentle, trusting temperament! ^5


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Deb. I totally agree. German shepherds are so sweet and need to trust you. U have personally treated many without ant issues; even those that other vets gave been unable to. I find positive reinforcement training e.g. Loading up my patients with yummy liver treats, a brilliant approach. Big props to all owners if German shepherds that are well behaved and obedient.


  23. char Says:

    Whoa! That poor dog. He looks like he was a wonderful patient though. I love German Shepherds…and he looks like an especially good one.


  24. For the Love of My Dogs Says:

    So happy Major is feeling better now– this looks like a terrible accident. Thank you for sharing this story— I’m glad you were able to help him!


  25. rutheh Says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today and liking it. I look forward to following yours!


  26. rumpydog Says:

    I hope all turned out well for this sweet dog!


  27. Igor Purlantov Says:

    Glad to hear Major is okay.


  28. Jason Preater Says:

    My dad’s dog once got a stick stuck in his windpipe and we had to pull it out. It was amazing that he wanted to run for it straight after! He replaced the stick with a ball in a sock shortly afterwards!


  29. orples Says:

    Poor Major. I hope his eye heals okay.


  30. sassybrat1904 Says:

    My Midnight(Pocket Pit) is crazy about sticks. Sense I have woods as part of her yard I don’t think I will ever be able to keep them away from her. However my dog Felix (not with us anymore) had a accident with his ball where I had to run him to his vet. I threw his ball and it went past my landscape trailer and instead of going around like he usually did he tried to go under and he hit a corner of the trailer and opened up just above his eye. It was very deep wound and recommended not to stitch up. So wound would not heal from outside in. Felix healed very well . I never let him go around that trailer again because in the excitement of fetching his ball he didn’t even think and ran into the trailer. Felix was ball crazy as Midnight is with sticks. Afternote: Felix lived a Happy life and passed at the age of 15 years. I had him sense birth. He died from a stroke in my arms at home.My Gravatar pic is Felix.


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Sassy. Thank you so much for sharing your very personal experience and telling us about what happened with your much loved and late Felix. One of my dogs is ball crazy too and will simply do anything to get the ball (even walk through fire). I hope Midnight’s stick obssession does not cause any issues. You can always try to find her a toy that drives her nuts and hopefully you will divert her attention to that.


      • sassybrat1904 Says:

        I have been trying she likes all things play! I have been taking the sticks away and putting them high up in bushes where she can’t get them. She tries for a while and realizes she can’t get them and moves on to something else. Not hard here with all country life provides for a active dog.Midnight is my rescue from NYCACC Former Manhattan girl turns country girl.She was on the TBD list and I put in to be her foster just in time. I am now a foster failure as I have sense adopted her. So seeing her run,play and just be a happy dog is a great feeling.

      • Rayya Says:

        What an amazing story. She was lucky that you happened to be there at the right time & saved her precious life. I saved both my dogs and everyday I still can’t believe they would have been destroyed had I not adopted them. They add so much to our lives and I simply can’t imagine my life without my babies…:-)

  31. Michelle Says:

    Oh, sticks are no good. Balls are better. My Free girl was wild over sticks. She was three and we threw one. She was so fast, that she ran into it. I heard her yelp, but my son was only eight, and we both thought she was okay. We walked home, about a mile. Dinner time came and she didn’t eat. She began shaking so we went straight to the Vet. We had a great Vet back then too! Anyway, they cut her open, from her neck to her chest, only to realize the stick was in her esophagus. It had just barely bypassed her trachea! They sewed her up, and went into her esophagus and got it out. It was only a tiny splinter of the stick. Just thought I’d share this in case people read. Balls are better 🙂

    I love your blog Dr. Rayya. Thank you!


  32. Michelle Says:

    PS I’m so glad Major recovered! I love the last photo of him. Free recovered too and had a great life for many years! Dogs have my heart.



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