The next time you ask your pet pooch to fetch a stick, try to remember this stark warning: dogs suffer as many injuries chasing and catching sticks as they do on roads.
One of Britain's most eminent vets, Dan Brockman, professor of small animal surgery at the Royal Veterinary College, has listed out dozens of serious injuries and infections, almost all the result of animals being stabbed as they rushed after a sharp stick, reports TimesOnline.
"When I see people throwing sticks for their dogs in the park I just get so frustrated. I want to go and tell them to stop," the expert said.
In his new research, Brockman along with a colleague will detail some of the injuries suffered by pets when a game of fetch goes wrong.
They include: dogs left paralysed after being stabbed in the back of the throat by a stick that then enters the spinal cord, and animals left with serious internal injuries when a spinning stick jams between the foreleg and chest as they try to catch it on the move.
Also, the list includes: dogs who suffer a slow death as infection spreads from tiny fragments of wood left lodged in a wound.
For owners, Brockman said, there is another problem with throwing sticks for dogs - the huge cost of treating injuries.
"I have seen injuries that have cost up to 5,000 pounds in treatment fees - but where the dog has still died in the end," he said.
Brockman added that people who get their pets to chase after balls may also be behaving irresponsibly.
"You must make sure the size of ball is right for the dog," said Brockman.
"I have had to operate on dogs that have swallowed tennis balls too," he added.