It's one of the biggest dangers for your dog or cat that you probably haven't even heard of.Yet these spiky plants, known as foxtail grass or spikelets are found just about everywhere in summer, and though they seem relatively harmless, they can, in fact, be really dangerous toyour ball of fluff.
The following tips will help you to avoid spikelets in the first place, as well as some tipsonhow to identify the symptoms and get rid of them, helping you keep your dog or cat in the best health possible.
Spikelets are small blades of foxtail grass which detach themselves when they dry out, something that happens mainly in summer. They are most commonly found in vegetated areas such as gardens, parks, long grasses and fields.
Their seeds are easily spread, sticking to the coats of animals and getting into their skin, ears, nostrils, eyes, and even between their paws.
These seeds are particularly harmful because they embed themselves everywhere, getting right inside your pet's natural orifices. If you don't catch the foxtail spikelets quickly enough, they can cause serious complications.
With their sharp tips and larger base, spikelets gradually sink deeper into the skin, becoming less and less visible but increasingly harmful. They may then cause skin infection, inflammation or abscesses.
If they get into your dog or cat's ears, they may seriously damage his eardrum. If they get into his eyes, they may damage the cornea, and may even cause him to lose eyesight if not caught quickly enough. If they get into his nose, they can cause excessive sneezing and bleeding from the nose.
The first precaution you can take is to minimise his contact with "risk" areas, which means avoiding taking him for walks in particularly grassy places (tall grasses, fields, forests...).
2. Trim your animal's hair before summer
Dogs with long hair run a higher risk than others, so it's a good idea to give him a summer haircut. Consider trimming his hair as much as possible around "risk" areas such as the ears or the paws.
3. Check his fur after going for a walk
Check your pup's fur after taking him for a walk in the wild. If you find spikelets in his fur, remove them and run a fine comb through his hair to make sure you get rid of all traces. Pay particular attention to the more difficult to access areas (for example, under his paws, between his toes, in his ears, in the folds of his skin...).
4. Keep your garden neat and tidy
If you have a garden yourself, mow the lawn and higher grasses regularly.
If quickly detected, it's easy enough to deal with by simply removing them from his coat by hand.
But if you find a spikelet in highly sensitive areas such as the ear or eye, it's best to take him to the vet to make sure the spikelets are properly removed, and that the area in question doesn't become inflamed.
Vets may have to use a general anaesthetic to remove the spikelets from your animal's body without causing him too much pain.