Dog lovers: be careful of grass awns and seeds this summer, they can kill your dog

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  1. I was speaking with a friend and former TPFer who recently underwent the most horrifying health emergency with her dog. Her dog was found to have large amounts of fluids in her chest cavities and it nearly killed her. She was rushed to the emergency room of a major vet school hospital, underwent all sorts of tests with inconclusive results, and was under intensive care for quite some time. Though they're not yet sure what caused the rapid build-up of chest fluid one of the possible and most likely culprits is a grass awn. Never heard of it? I hadn't either.

    A grass awn is a tiny dried, barb-shaped husk around grass seed. It can catch in a dog's fur and because of its barbs eventually work its way through the skin. It can also be inhaled. It can cause a major build-up of body fluids when the dog's immune system tries to expel it. Grass awns are a frequent cause of death of hunting dogs because they often run through long grass. Grass awns can get caught in ears, tails, between toes, even on lips. They're one of the reasons hunting dogs often wear jackets, to keep awns away from their chest.

    If you're going hiking or camping, or even for a stroll through a park, always take along a stiff brush and thoroughly brush your dog's coat as soon as you get home. Check the ears, between the toes, the armpits and groin, even the mouth and gums for any prickly plant matter.

    There's lots of info about grass awns and their danger to dogs on the web and here are just a few helpful links. I've been a dog owner for 25 years and never heard of this until today. I was flabbergasted.
  2. Thank you! Good to know.
    Never heard of this either. We love to hike so this is very useful info.
  3. This is an extremely common problem in CA. This is the first year in many that I haven't had to have one removed from a dog. Had them in ears eyes tonsils and one poor girl up her hoo hoo! Fingers crossed it stays clear this year.
  4. That foxtail grass is evil for cats too. When Mr. Kitty :cat: was still a wild thing I was always pulling those seeds out of his fur. The ones he pulled himself ended up sprouting in his grooming places around the yard. After he moved inside, I ended up having to RoundUp those spots to kill the grass so it would stop making more seeds.
  5. I never heard this too and never thought that grass awns can kill.
    I need a jacket for my dog.
  6. Omigosh! Did your dogs need to have surgery in order to get them removed? Were they removed in time before they endangered the dogs' lives? And however did you know that your girl had one up the woo hoo? Or shouldn't I ask?

    I had no idea this stuff was dangerous for cats too. All my kitties have always led indoor lives, but there has been the occasional dash out the door and through the bushes. Good to know I'll need to check any future escapees upon re-entry to the family life pod.
  7. The one in the tonsils had to be anesthetized, but the other were just fished out with appropriate instruments. The poor girl would take a few steps then sit down and frantically lick herself and it was foxtail (what we call them here in CA) time of year so I just had a feeling. They were able to pull it out with her just standing still for them.
  8. Egads! I asked my vet the other day if she encounters dogs with grass awns around here, and she said oh yes. All the time. Usually on their foot, stuck between the toes.
  9. Thank you for posting this information. I have a large memorial field opposite my house and it's favoured by dog owners. I used to walk my dog there but he kept getting itchy. He does have dermatitis, little itchy red spots that I keep in check with steroid cream from the vet but it got worse after being in the fields. I would wonder what else is in this field as there are foxes roaming there all the time at night. I'm lucky my dog prefers footpaths because I will definitely keep him out of the field now.
  10. So sorry to hear about your dog's contact dermatitis! We had a rescue dog--actually the hound in my avatar--who suffered terribly from itchy red skin when we got him. We bathed him regularly with Malaseb shampoo, sometimes as much as twice a week during allergy season, and that helped clear things up and keep his skin calm so that we could stop the steroids. We never did figure out what he was allergic to, but with the regular baths and grooming we were able to keep it under control. Good luck!