Cheatgrass in Central Oregon
Cheatgrass can be dangerous but with spending an extra minute or two after a walk can drop your risk down to simply annoying or mildly troublesome.
Cheatgrass is a generic name for several types of brome grasses that all share similar stiff, spiny seed heads called awns. These awns all have developed backward barbs that allow them to become easily attached to just about anything while simultaneously preventing them from coming out easily. They are frustratingly good at attaching themselves to our pets but not very good at letting go. In Central Oregon foxtails and Cheatgrass get an early start on the growing season. Come June it can already be dry, blown and ready to cause issues with our pets. So what can you do about it?
The first step is to familiarize yourself enough that you can identify it when you’re out romping around on the trail with your pet. Like many things, knowledge is power and prevention is your first layer of defense. Speaking of prevention, a clean and well-groomed coat provides another layer of protection for Biscuit.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful we are our pets there’s a good chance that they will eventually find themselves in the middle of a sea of this stuff so what now? Once your day is over, just do a quick once over on your pet. Blue Sky Veterinary Clinic (serving Bend for 25 years) has a great post on cheatgrass. They say “The most common place to find cheatgrass on your pet is between their toes and in their ears…Both cats and dogs can be affected but dogs are more susceptible as cats are better at grooming themselves.”
So you’ve been super careful to keep your pet out of Cheatgrass and you check them over carefully every time they hop back in the car but a day or two later something doesn’t seem right with your little buddy.
The Bend Veterinary Clinic states that “animals with an infected grass awn penetration will show signs typical of an infection; lethargy, loss of appetite, painful swellings or signs of drainage.” They go on to say that you should “look for excessive licking, redness, drainage, swelling between toes” and you may even see a “small puncture hole” in your dog’s feet. Left unchecked, a grass awn attached to the wrong part of your dog can break through the skin, cause an infection and in some cases even death. Dogs are pretty robust but it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If you find an infected awn we suggest you get in touch with your Vet right away.
Alright. It’s true that cheatgrass can be scary but now you’re informed and ready. At Bend Pet Express we talk to hundreds of people a year about cheatgrass and are always ready to help you out.
- Grab a Wash
- Get out and Play
- Check for Awns
- Enjoy the summer in this beautiful part of the country we call home!