Case File

Mooch Keeley - Serious 'Stick' Injury

by Mario Amaral DVM PGCertSAM MRCVS


Vet Mario received a phone call at 7.45am on a Tuesday morning a few weeks ago from the very worried owners of the lovely Mooch. Poor Mooch had been out on her morning walk, running around with all the energy of a normal Lurcher, when she managed to run full-pelt into an exposed stick which was stuck in the ground. This stick punctured right through the front part of her chest wall by her throat, entering straight into her chest cavity. This sort of injury is extremely traumatic and can cause huge damage to the lungs and other structures inside the chest cavity - Mario had to act quickly!

Vet Mario and Nurse Claire rushed straight to meet Mooch and her concerned owners at our Portishead Practice. They immediately performed a clinical examination to assess the situation and check her for any other injuries before admitting her for life saving emergency surgery. At this stage she was in dire trouble with her breathing, as her right lung had collapsed.


The X-rays and checks revealed the extent of the damage. The stick had not only penetrated the front of the chest but had gone all the way through at an angle and had come out of the chest at the side between two ribs! Incredibly, it had missed all the major vessels and heart on the inside of the chest cavity. The damage caused the lung to collapse which needed immediate attention. She was prepared for surgery and moved straight to the operating theatre.

During surgery the nursing team literally breathed for Mooch by way of the anaesthetic machine’s oxygen being squeezed in and out of the lungs to keep Mooch alive. Mario with Steve assisting, worked fast to remove the stick and repair the extensive damage to both of the chest wall wounds, and to ensure all bits of splintered stick were removed. The lung was then successfully re-inflated, before finally allowing Mooch to start breathing for herself. A chest drain was placed to allow us to remove any inappropriate build up of air or liquid from the chest cavity post-operatively.



The lovely Mooch then remained hospitalised with us for the next two days for close nursing care and to ensure there were no post-operative complications. We are extremely pleased to report that she has since made a remarkable recovery and is back to her normal self after lots of love and attention from her owners at home!

Although poor Mooch’s injuries were caused by a stick poking out of the ground that she ran onto, it does highlight the risks associated with sticks and how dangerous stick injuries can be! We would like to reiterate the importance of not throwing sticks for your dogs and instead encourage you to switch to one of the many other safe toy alternatives out there!