How do I protect my dog from foxtails and cheatgrass?

You may have heard that grass awns can be detrimental to dogs, but why exactly are they harmful? It is possible for the seed pods of tall grasses, such as cheatgrass and foxtail, to adhere to a dog and pierce their skin. These foreign objects have the potential to travel throughout the body and cause dangerous inflammation and infection if left untreated.

By becoming knowledgeable about the identification of these potentially hazardous grasses, you may help shield the dog from foxtails, cheatgrass, and other types of damaging grass awns. The earlier you identify your dog's grass-awn issues, the easier it will be to assist them and avoid more severe harm.

What Are Grass Awns?


In the summer, the seed pods produced by these weedy grasses dry out and disperse. Tiny barbs on a large number of those seed pods enable them to stick to objects and animals with ease. This is how grass seeds proliferate in the natural world.

A dog can easily become covered in seed pods when it walks through tall grass. The grass awn may embed in the skin or migrate more deeply into the tissues like a foreign body since the small barbs prevent it from moving in any other way.

Due to the harm they can do to dogs, grass awns are frequently referred to as "mean seeds." Summertime, when the seed pods are dry and easily come off the grass, is when the risk is greatest.

Why Do Dogs Risk Injury from Grass Awns?


A dog's coat gets sprayed with grass awns by weeds like cheatgrass and foxtail when it runs or strolls through these dense grasses. Many dogs' heights correspond nicely with where the seed pods are located on the grasses, so when the dog comes into contact with the grass, the lightweight, sharp grass awns attach to it. The grass awn may pierce the fur of the dog when it moves, becoming entrenched because of the barbs. An additional motion allows the grass in the awn to move. It's also possible for foxtail seeds to break off of the pod and get implanted.

Dogs' paws, the skin, nostrils, ears, or eyes are the most typical places where grass awns become stuck. They might also sink further into the body. It has been shown that grass awns can pass through a body wall or enter the chest and abdomen.

The body becomes inflamed if a grass awn gets lodged. An abscess forms as cells start to wall up the region to confine the foreign object to avoid infection. Wherever the grass awn is set, a painful, swelling lump is often developed in dogs. Embedded grass awns may lead to major infections as well as further issues.

Signs of Cheatgrass and Foxtail Issues in Dogs


1: Fever and a lethargic feeling
2: Appetite decline
3: Uncomfortable or swollen lump
4: A hole punctured
5: Bleeding or discharge
6: Pawing, chewing, or licking the injured area
7: Limping (if paws or legs are impacted)
8: Head shaking (if affecting the ears)

Get in touch with your veterinarian as soon as possible if you see any of these symptoms in your dog, along with any others. If the dog has been among tall grasses, let your veterinarian know. It is easier to treat a grass awn the sooner it is discovered. Don't wait for the issue to sort itself out. Grass awns typically worsen with time and are quite unlikely to fall on their own.

Solutions for Grass Awn Issues


Your dog will be examined thoroughly by your veterinarian, who will pay particular attention to any places that seem like a puncture wound, are bloated, or hurt. Many times, additional diagnostics are required before the veterinarian can determine whether the issue is related to a foreign object, such as a grass awn.

Imaging tests like x-rays and/or ultrasounds may be necessary if your dog is exhibiting symptoms of an illness, including respiratory, digestive, or other general indicators. Tests on blood and urine can also be performed to search for signs of infection, organ failure, and/or abnormalities in blood cells.

If the affected location is really painful or the grass awn is placed in a sensitive place such as the nose, mouth, eye, and ear, your dog might need to be sedated. If it's feasible, your veterinarian might attempt to extract the grass awn while the dog is still sedated. The veterinarian might suggest a referral for a rhinoscopy if it is thought that the grass awn remains inside the nasal cavity. This entails inserting a tiny camera-containing tube into the nose or retrieving the camera with a tiny tool that is inserted through the tube. The foreign body may usually be removed, the abscess opened, or the area cleaned and drained.

In some situations, your dog will require general anesthesia and more intrusive surgery to remove the grass awn. If diagnostic testing reveals a problem in the abdomen, chest, or deep within the body's tissues, exploratory surgery might be advised. This can be a far more involved treatment, and your veterinarian might advise referring your pet to a specialist that can perform more imaging and offer more intensive post-operative care.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Cheatgrass and Foxtails


Check your dog's body for sores, swollen regions, and grass awns if he was outside in an area of tall grasses. Examine the paws closely, making sure to look between the toes as well as at the top and bottom of the feet. Examine the mouth and ears. Following any off-leash walks in locations where there may be thick grass, give your dog's coat a thorough brushing to eliminate any foreign items. Watch him carefully over the following three days.

1: Take out weeds from the yard and enclosure of your pet.
2: Pets should not go near roadsides or dry, grassy fields.
3: Make sure your pet's coat is tidy and clean. In order to enable daily checks and reduce grass seed collection, this may include cutting fur short.
4: Check between your pet's toes and check for hair mats, which are places where grass awns are fond of hiding, every day.
5: To lessen your dog's chance of ingesting grass awns, trim the hair between their paw pads. You could also think about giving your dog booties when they stroll in high-risk locations.

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