cheat grassSummer is the time to be on the look out for cheat grass.  Cheat grass, also know as fox tail or grass awns, is a weed regularly found in our area.  The problem is in the barbed seed pods.  The one way barbs on the pods allow the seeds to burrow into our pets’ skin, toes, ears, eyes and mucous membranes.  This can be quite uncomfortable and lead to more severe problems that may require sedation, surgery and medication to remedy.  In extreme cases, cheat grass has been found to have actually migrated inside the body cavity and cause death.

Fortunately, this is a health problem which can be highly prevented.  Removing the plant from your yard or where your pet often goes is a good place to start.  Next is through daily inspection and removal.  Places to check are the fur, ears and especially the toes.  It is more common to see imbedded cheat grass in dogs, as cats often take care of grooming themselves.  A good brushing and “massage” will often do the trick.  Keeping the hair between the pads of your dogs’ feet is also helpful prevention.

There are several signs you can watch for that can indicate a potential cheat grass imbedment.  These signs include, sneezing, shaking their head, scratching at the ears, licking at their paws or any other area of their body.  It is not uncommon for the affected area to only contain a small hole or even no signs of a cheat grass being imbedded.  In some cases the cheat grass has disolved, leaving only discomfort and infection as a reminder of it’s previous presence.

If you do suspect a potential cheat grass problem, call our clinic and we will get you seen by one of our veterinarians as soon as possible to get your pet feeling comfortable again.