June 13, 2022
Call it cheatgrass, foxtails, or that grass seed stuck in my dog’s ear….it’s the time of year when it’s everywhere in Central Oregon. Cheatgrass can be seen on the side of a trail, at the dog park, or even in your yard. It starts off as a green looking grass with what appears to be seeds at the top. Then once it dries, the “seed” turns into a firm spiky part of the plant that can become stuck in an ear, between toes, up the nose or pretty much anywhere. Some pets chew on the grass and it can become lodged in the tonsils or even in the cheek.
Why is this a problem?
When cheatgrass is stuck in an ear it is very painful. Your pet will probably yelp, shake their head or hold their ear/head off to one side. The cheatgrass needs to be removed so it doesn’t cause any damage to the eardrum or ear canal itself. Most often, pets need to be sedated to remove cheatgrass from the ear.
When cheatgrass becomes lodged in other places, it starts to burrow under the skin and causes an abscess or infection. These turn into painful swellings that can rupture. Cheatgrass can also migrate from one spot to another causing chronic draining tracts or infections. Some cheat grass abscesses are treated by sedating a pet & removing the cheatgrass, then flushing the abscess, and starting a course of antibiotics. Other cheat grass abscesses are not as simple. The piece of cheatgrass can be hard to find and may require multiple surgeries and courses of antibiotics in order to resolve the issue.
What can be done?
The best thing to do is not allow your pet to roam free in areas where there is cheatgrass. Usually cheatgrass dries up at the beginning of the summer and that is when most cheat related problems occur. If your pet does walk through cheatgrass, check their body & between their toes and remove any cheatgrass stuck in the fur. If you suspect cheatgrass in the ear, up the nose, in the tonsils, or a cheatgrass abscess, then seeking veterinary care is best for your pet.
Please feel free to call us at Pawtown if you have any concerns!