Take a walk in almost any park in the country and you're likely to see a happy hound proudly carrying a stick. But vets are warning dog owners about the dangers of playing fetch with Fido.
According to the Daily Mail, Robin Hargreaves, president elect of the British Veterinary Association, is urging owners to stop throwing sticks for their pet because of the "horrific injuries" it can cause.
Mr Hargreaves, who says he operates on about one dog a month that has been seriously injured in such an incident, told the paper: "Never throw sticks for dogs. Even if you do it now, never do it again. It is a violent incident that causes real damage."
Injuries including torn gullets can be caused when a dog runs open-mouthed after a stick that has landed point up, and splinters in the mouth can cause choking, bleeding and even lethal infection.
In the latter case, owners often don't notice that there's a problem until it is too late.
Mr Hargreaves explained that thousands of dogs are seen by vets each year because of stick injuries, with retrievers, Labradors and collies most commonly afflicted.
He believes that puppy owners should be warned of the dangers at the initial vaccination and health check stage, and guidance now advises vets to scan more frequently to detect unnoticed splinters that could turn nasty.
It does not, however, mean that you can't enjoy a game of fetch with your pooch - with the huge variety of rubber bones, balls and frisbees on the dog toy market, there's always a safe alternative.
Have you stopped throwing sticks for your dog, and do you think vets should warn new puppy owners of the dangers? Leave your comments below...