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Tips for active pets and owners in the Treasure Valley– Avoid a trip to the Emergency Veterinary Hospital, inspect your pet’s paws and ears for “Cheat Grass” after outdoor activity.

We love living in the Treasure Valley because it means so many fun outdoor recreational activities right at our fingertips–a favorite being a quick hike, run, or bike ride in the foothills. While it’s a great workout for you and your dog, these outdoor adventures can be a source of prickly “cheat grass” which can cause discomfort, pain, and if not properly treated, infections for your dog.

Today, we asked Dr. Curtis Brandt, one of WestVet’s Emergency Veterinarians, his advice for pet owners who will be out playing this summer:

“Plant awns, the spiky seed of many grasses, often referred to as cheat grass or foxtails, commonly cause problems for pets in the Boise area in late spring and summer.Dr. Curtis Brandt, Emergency Veterinarian at WestVet, gives tips on avoiding cheat grass mishaps with your pet. Cheat grass awns can fall into a pet’s ears, but can also get stuck in the eye or nose, migrate into the lungs, or work their way into the skin of the feet or other parts of the body.

Plant awns are covered in fine silica hairs which work like tiny ratchets, preventing the awns from backing out, which contributes to the potentially serious nature of the problem. After taking your pet to cheat grass-infested areas, always look him or her over thoroughly afterwards and pick off any cheat to avoid problems. Remember to check out the space between each of the toes with particular care. If you do see your pet acutely shaking his or her head, uncontrollably sneezing, or holding an eye closed after any possible cheat exposure, it’s important to take him or her to a veterinarian to have this checked out.”

VetMedicine lists some warning signs for pet owners of a serious problem:

Animals with an infected grass awn penetration will show signs typical of an infection: lethargy, loss of appetite, painful swellings, or signs of drainage.

Feet are common problem areas. Look for excessive licking, redness, drainage, swelling between toes… Some dogs may limp.

You may find more extensive information on the VetMedicine website HERE.


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