Cheatgrass and your pet!

Cheatgrass may also be called foxtail, June Grass, Downy Brome or grass awn. 

Q: We are here with an overly energetic, Mac. He's a pitbull here. He's such a happy dog! He even has happy tail! He hurt is tail a little bit. But, today we are talking about cheatgrass! So, what does cheatgrass even look like?

A: So cheatgrass is a grass that grows around here a lot, it's just starting to come up, and it's going to be really full force in the summer. It's got these little arrow shape grass awns or grass seeds that frankly get into everything! 

Q: So what makes it so bad for dogs?

A: What makes it so bad for dogs is that it will get caught in their hair-or their nose, or their ears-and It has barbs on it so it will work in one direction. So, it will work its way under the skin or through the ear drum. Dogs can also inhale it and it will work its way down their nose-which can be a real pain for everyone!

Q: What actually happens if they inhale it and gets down there? An infection of some sort?

A: Yes, they will get an abscess or infection. I have heard of a dog having a lung lobe removed. I think [the dog] breathed [the cheatgrass] through it's mouth and it went right down into the lung tissue. 

Q: How can you tell? Do your pet breathe differently?

A: Into the lung is really rare, that's an oddball case. More commonly you will see dogs tilting their head because they have [cheatgrass] in their ears. Or they may have big sores between the knuckles of their paws. Cheatgrass really likes to work its way between the toes. Or you may have them snorting and sneezing, especially if they discharge or blood coming from only one side of their nose, this could be a sign they have something (like cheat grass) in their nose. 

Q: Is this something an owner can get out themselves or should you just take the dog to the vet?

A: It depends. If you can see it, by all means grab it! If it's deep in the ear or deep in the nose, or there has been an abscess in the paw, they may be sedated to get it out. They may also need antibiotics. It can range anywhere from a mild nuisance to a significance medical issue. 

Q: Alright, let's talk about Mac. He has not gotten into cheatgrass that I know of. He's a pretty happy dog here! He's up for adoption. He really likes Bob, you notice what he's looking at right now? That's Bob walking around the studio. If you would like to adopt Mac, you can just give these folks at All Valley Animal Care Center a call at (208) 287-3100. Anything else about Mac? How old is he?

A: Mac is a young adult, not exactly sure how old he is. He was found abondonded and he had some skin disease and his food and water dishes were frozen over. So, to justify the "happy tail," he has a lot to be happy about right now! 

 

For more information on Cheatgrass, you can visit VetMedicine.about.com.