The plant in the picture is the awn barley, which is responsible for the fact that we, unfortunately, see a lot of puppies in the vet’s office every summer.
So we’ll elaborate a bit on the topic, so you what to look out for and what to do if a grass awn is embedded in your dog’s paw.
But what is the awn?
The awn barley, aka the mouse barley is an annual monocotyledon weed that is quite common in Hungary.
Its seeds germinate in the spring, develop in the summer and can grow to 30 cm in height It’s not toxic, but when the spikes turn yellow, the awn detaches from the plant and it can penetrate the body of the dog walking in the grass, even causing severe symptoms.
As it is unable to degrade, in certain extreme cases, it can be fatal to the animal.
What you can do to prevent the plant from penetrating the skin of your dog?
Avoid awn infected places as much as possible – however, it’s important to stay vigilant even while walking in the city, as this plant can grow out of the cracks in the concrete!
If your favorite is long-haired, take it to a pet groomer regularly and, as far as the breed allows, keep its hair short!
After each walk, Inspect your dog and comb its hair.
If visiting a heavily awn infected area, you may put socks or dog shoes on your dog’s paws.
In the case of breeds with long, drooping ears, some owners would also put socks or stockings over their dog’s ears in particularly infected areas – in this case, however, you must pay close attention to the risk of overheating.
What to look for to timely recognize that the plant has penetrated your dog’s paw or body?
After walks in meadows and fields, check your dog, especially on the footpads, feet, underbelly, the ears, folds, and around the muzzle.
Intense scratching, licking of an area, bleeding or loss of balance (in case of awn infection of the ear) can be warning signs. Strong squinting, squeaking, or whining may also indicate that the awn has penetrated the animal’s nose or eyes, in which case it’s even more urgent to consult a vet.
What you can do if you find awn in your dog!
It’s important that you do not try to remove the awn yourself! This is the vet’s job and they use a special tool for this, otherwise, the appendage of the spear-shaped ear of the plant will detach and remain under the dog’s skin.
If you find an awn in your dog, consult a specialist as soon as possible, especially if the awn is in your dog’s mouth, nose or eyes!
Don’t let your dog poke or lick the wound! This would spread the bristles of the awn under the skin, evidentially making it more difficult for the vet to remove them. If your dog pokes the awn, put a sock on its feet or cover the infected area until you get to the vet!