Be On The Lookout For These Nasty Weeds…….
It is that time of year again when grasses go to seed and if you walk your dog in fields where they grow, it can be bad news.
Foxtails, cheatgrass, speargrass are all grasses that produce seeds that can be very dangerous to dogs. Depending on where you live in the country, one or more of these nasties will be waiting for your dog.
These grass seeds spread themselves by both wind and attaching themselves to bystanders. Once they attach themselves, the point of the grass will often penetrate the skin and begin to migrate. They are often found in the paws and ears but they can also be inhaled and migrate through the lungs.
If one of these grass seeds enters the body, surgical removal is often required. Penetration in the paw will often cause intense pain and the dog will constantly lick at the affected area. The grass seed will penetrate the bottom of the paw between the pads and migrate up the paw towards the wrist joint or top of the paw (see picture). If one has entered the ear canal, the dog will be constantly shaking its head and pawing at the ear. An otoscopic exam will be needed to find them once they have moved down the ear canal and the dog will most likely need to be sedated in order to remove it without damaging the ear drum.
For those unfortunate dogs that inhale one of these nasties, there will be a persistent cough. The grass seed will often migrate through the lungs and travel down the muscles along the spine creating draining tracts as they migrate. These can be a real challenge to remove and restore healing.
The best way to deal with these nasty weeds is to remember that they are present and to check your pet whenever your return to the house. Check the ears, paws and hair coat and remove them before they start their migration. A little bit of preventative effort can save a lot of pain and discomfort for your pet.