The dangerous health issue for dogs of grass spears & how to treat them

apache staffyHow often do I hear about people not wanting to walk their dogs in the park because of a given fear.

But at the moment with inclement weather grass seeds have become one of the most common big local fears in Melbourne.

The grass issue is that many parks in Melbourne have native grass spears that usually flower, get mowed down and decompose.

Every couple of years, like occurred three summers ago, the weather patterns are right to extend grass spears surviving intact on the ground for a long period.

Talk to a vet or a person who has had a dog who has suffered with one of these spears and you will hear about the healthy concern, the expense and the dog pain.

How grass seeds grow and cause problems

It seems that there has to be a good rain at the start of spring, dry periods, a mowing, then more rain followed by dry periods so that there are several crops of the spear grass. The spears fall to the ground and dogs walking, running or rolling around on the grass get the barbs of the front of the spear stuck in their skin.

Some weather patterns and rain cycles happen so that the grass grows, gets mowed and the spears disintegrate into the ground no problem.  This is not that season.

Where are the danger spots for dogs

Dogs can get the spears stuck on any part of their body, but typical areas are: Ears, eyes, noses and toes.

Eyes are relatively obvious, swelling itching and obvious discomfort should alert most owners that something seriously wrong is happening to the eye - even though if it goes behind the eye, they wont know until they go to a good vet.

Ears are a curious place for a dog to get a seed, Unless you have a special probe with camera you are unlikely to know for sure what is in the ear. You have to see it then use special tweezers to safely retrieve the spear without hurting the ear drum.

If a dog has a spear grass in its nose, they won't just sneeze or snort once or twice, they will likely keep violently sneezing until they dislodge it. If your dog is sneezing regularly it could be a form of dog allergy or hay fever. But if it doesn't stop you should know there is something lodged up there that a vet needs to get out.

The most common grass seed tends to be found between the toes of dogs. As they run it wedges in well and an allergic dog might look like it is doing its regular chewing of its feet to relieve itchiness from secondary infections of fungus and bacteria. Usually there will be obvious swelling between the toes or even an entry mark in the centre of the abscess.  Sometimes squeezing on the swelling will pop it out, sometimes a poultice can help draw it out. If neither work within a day or so, it is important to get to a vet before the seed or suspected seed or foreign body travels.

Seeds on other parts of the body such as the stomach or chest of the dog can be just as dangerous as in the eye or ear. The reason is that on many of these dogs the seeds have an amazing and dangerous way or travelling long distances under the skin and can potentially lodge in organs causing internal bleeding or infections.

Usually grass seeds such as spears are no longer a problem by December, but this year it seems that the grasses and their spears my bloom well into the new year.

If your dog shows and obvious sign of discomfort with their body in not being able to sit down, gnawing at one spot on their body etc  then please check them over carefully and get to a vet quickly if you cannot resolve it.


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