Did you know that there are approximately 60 species of spear grass, commonly known under many different names, including, foxtail grass, porcupine grass, needle grass, silver spike grass, etc. and “spear grass” is the generic term used for any wild grass that has barbed seeds.
There is dangerous foxtail barley grass growing everywhere in the Victoria area (it looks similar to wheat), including the off leash area of Beacon Hill Park, and although this grass is beautiful and graceful in it’s green and purple growing stage, once it dries out, the spears have a Velcro-like texture that easily attach themselves to anything that brushes past, including your best fur friends. Each small piece that attaches itself to a passing dog also has a needle sharp end that can easily pierce your dog’s skin and work it’s way inside your dog’s body.
No matter what name you give this insidious grass, there is no denying that any type of spear grass and your pet are a dangerously unhealthy and treacherous combination that can cause your pet much pain and distress.
Spear grass is most dangerous for dogs once it has become dried out and more easily falls from the stalks and is most often a problem from late spring through to the fall.
Make sure that you keep a vigilant eye during the spear grass season and if you allow your dog to romp through grassy areas, always check between the toes, underbelly, eyes, ears, nose, etc., because if just one of these Velcro-like seeds gets into an ear canal, for instance, your dog will be doing a lot of head shaking and ear scratching and may even whine or cry because he or she is experiencing extreme pain. Once a spear grass has lodged itself in an ear canal or up the dog’s nose, removal will require an expensive trip to your local vet’s office.
The seeds found in the ears, eyes and nose can cause very serious problems, even to the point of becoming life threatening if not discovered and properly treated. Because these seeds literally stick to anything, and are designed to move forward through the hair, to pierce the skin, no body part is immune.
The seeds have been found in the urethra, vagina, anal glands, brain, and spinal cord. In one case a veterinarian found a seed in the lung, even though the original site of entry was through the paw. Spear grass can also gain easy entry through open wounds.
Spring and summertime in the Northwest is a wonderful time for dogs and their guardians to be outside enjoying the sites and sounds and you can make sure that all this fun activity remains a happy memory when you carefully inspect for spear grass after each outing.
Asia Moore ~ Ask a Dog Whisperer
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