Health and safety went barking mad today when these rubber sticks were launched for dogs – because real wood is too DANGEROUS.
Vets say the traditional game of throwing sticks found on the ground could lead to serious injuries from splinters and sharp points.
So now Rubber Safestix – which are approved by the Royal Veterinary College and The Dogs Trust – are hitting the shelves of some of Britain’s biggest pet retailers.
The 70cm flexible sticks were designed by Army sergeant Paul Blair, 39, after his beloved four-year-old Jack Russel Razzle was badly hurt chasing a stick.
He spent 18 months working with vets, designers and air hostess wife Helen, 29, to create Safestix after failing to find a product that replicated a large stick.
Sgt Blair, who is with the Parachute Regiment at Netheravon, Salisbury, Wilts., said he hoped the sticks would become a hit with pet owners.
He said: ”I’m not trying to be the fun police but I do want to get the safety message out to educate dog owners about the dangers of throwing sticks.
”I was just throwing a normal stick for my Jack Russell. He ran on to it in an awkward way and a splinter came off and punctured the inside of his mouth.
”I started researching similar injuries online and found that they are very common so I decided to do something about it.
”The Safestix is one of the biggest dog toys on the market so it really replicates playing with a stick for dogs, which they love.”
Paul, who lives in Amesbury, Wilts., designed the product with vets and wife Helen after Razzle was injured during a walk in the village 18 months ago.
The Parachute Regiment Major used all of his life savings and support from family and friends to finance the Safestix brand.
He is now planning to leave the Army – which he has served in for 16 years – to develop the brand by launching other products and taking Safestix to Europe and the US.
Professor Dan Brockman form the Royal Veterinary College praised Safestix as ”perfect”.
He said: ”This product would seem like the perfect alternative to a piece of wood.
”It has been carefully designed with no rough ends or edges and is made of material that is tough enough to withstand even my terrierâ€™s teeth.”
The Safestix are designed to be long-lasting and are made from tough rubber, which has twists in it to make it ”more interesting” for dogs to chew and catch.
Three new Safestix versions – a shorter 50cm stick, an ”extra tough” one and a teeth cleaning mint stick – will go on the market next year.
Vet Estela Birlisdon, from Manor Farm Veterinary Surgery in Warminster, Wilts., said she had treated numerous dogs with stick-related injuries.
She said: ”I think they appear harmless but they can cause some fatal injuries – we’ve seen injuries where sticks have migrated through to the lungs.
”So, I always try and warn people that it might be free to throw a stick out on a walk, but ultimately it can be very costly for your pet and for your bank balance.”
Two thousand Safestix went on sale in pet stores across the UK yesterday today.