Logout

Saturday, July 20, 2024
8.9 C
Masterton

ADVERTISE WITH US

My Account

- Advertisement -

Barley grass: Pets at risk

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

A dog with a limp is never a good sign, but the cause may be more ominous than simply a sore foot.

Summer is here, and barley grass, a potentially lethal plant for animals, is already causing grief for Wairarapa pet owners.

The spiky grass wedges its way between the toes of an animal, and punctures their skin moving in only one direction like a fish hook.

Any attempt to pull it in the opposite direction is futile.

Masterton grandparents Keith and Marilyn Turner’s family dog Bella was struck with a limp on Christmas Eve.

The barley grass was removed from Bella’s foot with the help of some comfrey leaves. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
The barley grass was removed from Bella’s foot with the help of some comfrey leaves. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

“The first I knew of the incident, my son came over and said, look what we got out of Bella’s foot,” Mr Turner said.

It was barley grass.

“You see, Bella had been running around with her foot in the air – not putting it on the ground – and it was getting all swollen,” he said.

Bella’s owners had acted quickly, washing her foot and bandaging it up with comfrey leaves on Christmas Eve, thinking it may have been just a cut.

When the bandages were taken off on Sunday night the barley grass was just visible, sticking out of her foot.

Mr Turner said if they hadn’t found the cause of Bella’s pain, it may have been “too late”.

Bella, the three-year-old gordon setter had barley grass removed from her foot. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
Bella, the three-year-old gordon setter had barley grass removed from her foot. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

“Every time the muscles or anything moves, the barley grass just keeps moving up and works its way right inside because it only travels in one direction.

“Even if you just move slightly, each time you move, it will just keep travelling up inside the leg.”

Masterton Vetcare veterinary director Heidi Ward-McGrath said barley grass was “a huge problem”.

“We’ve already seen six cases in the last couple of weeks,” she said.

“The barley grass can track right up through to the top part of their legs.

“A dog I saw about 18 years ago, the barley grass was actually the cause of spinal paralysis because it had worked its way right up through the leg and through the shoulder into the spinal cord.

“I’ve also seen this effect around the eyes of both cats and dogs.”

Dr Ward-McGrath said the barley grass seeds matured in summer and had “sticky spines” that caught onto things.

The plant also affects cats, rabbits, and livestock.

“One lady called me because her cat had a slightly runny eye,” she said.

“We had a quick look and pulled out a massive barley grass seed that was digging into the back of the eye.

“They’re very painful and very dangerous.”

Common symptoms in animals included limping and swelling.

“If you can only see a hole or a bubble in the foot, then chances are you’ve already missed it and the grass has gone in and healed over.

“Then you’ll get the infection starting to creep in.”

She said preventative measures were keeping animals’ hair or fur trimmed very short around their feet, and checking pets’ feet at the end of each day.

“Just spread their toes at the end of each day and just flick your finger up between each toe. If the grass has just caught on, you’ll actually catch it before it starts to dig in.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Don’t forget to check ears in long haired dogs as well. My springer has already had a seed removed from the inside of her ear this summer.

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
Trending
Masterton
overcast clouds
8.9 ° C
10.5 °
8.9 °
98 %
1.3kmh
100 %
Fri
11 °
Sat
11 °
Sun
13 °
Mon
9 °
Tue
10 °