I know, I know ... some of you clicked on this thinking to themselves "But my dog plays with rocks and he/she has never tried to swallow them etc. But here are the reasons why you shouldn't and what could happen down the line.
Broken Teeth: It's very common for vets to see dogs who have broken their teeth on rocks. And even if your dog doesn't actively chew on them, that doesn't eliminate the risk of a broken or chipped tooth. Simply trying to regrip a rock so it won't fall out of their mouth can break a tooth. Running, jumping, falling or even colliding with another dog while carrying a rock, no matter how gently, can result in a broken tooth. The best price you can hope for to get it repaired is $1,500 and up to $6,000 if a root canal is necessary.
Impactions and bowel obstructions: A broken tooth can cause death in the event of a severe infection, but those odds are extremely small. What's more likely to cause severe injury or death is an impaction or obstruction. Every small animal vet with even a little experience has treated or done emergency surgery on an impacted or obstructed digestive system in a dog before. In fact, dental surgery is the 2nd most common surgery in pets, and coming in at #4 is internal surgeries; many of those being obstructions.
If medical care isn't given in a timely fashion, obstructions can and will cause death if they cannot be passed naturally. This is the #1 reason you should never let your dog play with rocks, but it isn't the last reason. There's 3 more that people rarely, if ever, stop to think about.
Parasites: Dogs eat gross things, drink out of puddles etc all the time. But picking up things off the ground such as rocks and eating feces (from any animal) is the #1 cause of internal parasite infestation. That risk is even greater if your dog is allowed to exhibit those behaviors at dog parks and other areas shared with other dogs, or even wild animals.
Choking Hazards: No need to dive too deep into this one. If you run, jump and play with objects in your mouth, your risk of choking is much higher than doing said things with nothing in your mouth.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorders: Last, but not least, we have obsessive compulsive disorders. A dog who is allowed to play with rocks often ends up obsessed with playing with them. It's the first thing they run to do when let outside. They'll carry it the entire time they're outside. They'll carry them in the house if you let them, and hold them all day. That can vary from mildly amusing to downright dangerous if that obsession leads to the ingestion of rocks. A dog who has never swallowed a rock despite playing with them for years may develop the habit at any time. And even if they never do, the more they carry rocks, the more likely they are to swallow one or more by mistake.
Here are some reasons you knew why your dog should never play with rocks, and hopefully a reason or two you never thought of. Rocks, sticks and other items not meant to be chewed on, eaten, or played with, will always be more dangerous than getting toys suited for your dog's drive to play.
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