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Rick

Grassy Awns Dangerous to Dogs

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Rick

Keep your dog safe and prevent contact with Canadian Rye or Foxtail seeds.

Many dogs have died as a result and even the vet did not know the cause. Many more have become very sick, crippled or damaged in other ways because of the grassy awn seeds. If you hunt and your dog gets sick, be sure to mention the possibility of a grassy awn issue along with the ensuing infection. Many vets will treat for other infections first.

There are several species of Foxtail and also Canadian Rye, grassy weeds you need to be aware of if you are a dog owner. You may not know what Canadian Rye or foxtail is or be unaware of the danger they pose to dogs. Please be aware that these seeds do kill dogs and make many more dogs sick enough to require surgery.

Canadian Rye image below:

Elymus-villosus-Silky-Wild-Rye-grass2.jp They grow rapidly during the winter/spring rains, and then dry out in the summer months.

As these grasses mature, a seed forms at the top of the stalk. The foxtail seed resembles a fox's tail, hence the name given to the grass. Canadian Rye looks similar to foxtail with a more wheat head look.

When dog owners talk about "foxtails or Canadian Rye," they are actually speaking of the seed portion of the grass.Once canadian rye/foxtail grasses dry out, the seed detaches easily and sticks readily to clothing and fur. Canadian rye/foxtail seeds can enter a dog's body in a variety of ways and once they enter, they act like an animated fishhook: the seed continues to move forward through the dog’s body, and because of tiny barbs, cannot move backwards.

It's most common for a canadian rye/foxtail seed to enter a dog's body through the skin, nose, ears, paws, genitals, and eyes. Cases have even been reported of canadian rye/foxtails being lodged in male dogs' urethra. One vet I spoke tomentioned how a canadian rye/foxtail seed found in a dog's lung was believed to have entered initially through thedog's paw!

Canadian rye/foxtail seeds are tenacious, and can be deadly.

The "seedlings" are physically built to burrow. While some animals do not have difficulty with the plant (horses can eat them with no side effects), and people seem to be able to remove them easily, dogs appear to have the most severe reactions to them.

Foxtail image below:

barley_foxtail_op.jpgThe outsides of the "seedlings" contain a bacterium with enzymes used to break down vegetation. This bacterium also allows the seedling to burrow into a dog along the tunnels of pus created by the enzyme. In fact, Dr. Amezcua informed us: pus and these seeds go hand in hand.

A foxtail or Canadian rye seed can literally go anywhere in the dog. For example, they have been found inside the brain, anal glands, eyes, ears, jowls, feet, spinal cord, lungs, and vagina.

Canadian rye/foxtail seeds are relatively small, so detecting them once they enter a dog's body can be difficult. Vets usually rely on telltale symptoms such as head-shaking, paw licking, swellings on the body, or sudden and continuous sneezing.

Canadian rye/foxtail seeds in the ears, nose, and eyes are very serious and can ultimately be life-threatening if they are not treated promptly. If a canadian rye/foxtail seed has been inhaled and lodged in the nasal cavity, the dog will sneeze repeatedly and violently, sometimes even banging their nose on the floor with each sneeze in a futile attempt to dislodgethe seed. It is often possible to sedate the animal, locate the seed with an otoscope, and remove it using special forceps, if rushed to the vet after the initial symptoms appear.

If a canadian rye/foxtail seed is lodged in the paw or under the coat, a lump will usually form that is painful to touch.Depending on how deep the canadian rye/foxtail seed has traveled, they can usually be removed surgically.

When a canadian rye/foxtail seed get into a dog's eye, they will usually paw at the eye and the eye will water. Even if you can see a canadian rye/foxtail lying under the eyelid, don't try to remove it yourself! There's a good chance that you may not get it all. Keep your dog from pawing at their eye and get to a vet immediately, preferably a veterinary opthomologist.

If your dog gets a canadian rye/foxtail in their ear, they will usually shake their head violently. If you suspect a canadian rye/foxtail, get your dog to a vet immediately.

The best way to handle canadian rye/foxtail problems is to prevent them or treat them early.

To prevent canadian rye/foxtail injuries:

• If possible, avoid canadian rye/foxtail infested areas – especially during the dry season.

• Thoroughly brush and inspect your dog's coat if it has been romping through tall, mature grass. Run your hands over their coat and look for canadian rye/foxtails. Dogs with long hair are particularlysusceptible to canadian rye/foxtail seeds.

• Look into your dog's ears. If your dog has floppy ears, lift each ear and inspect.

• Immediately examine your dogs paws (in-between toes and paw pads), neck (under the collar),tail/anus, and underarm areas after walks in areas with canadian rye/foxtails.

• Remove any canadian rye/foxtails that are sitting on the fur.

Remove any canadian rye/foxtails from your property and tell your friends & family who own dogs so they can do the same.

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MinnesotaMongo

Thank you for posting this. Also - be careful in how you seed your hunting grounds.

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sweept

My dog once had a foxtail get lodged in her nostril. Bloody mess. We were in SD pheasant hunting at the time. Pretty much screwed up a good day of hunting for her. I am pretty sure I ended up pulling it out with a forceps later in the day.

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no bait nate

great post and info. i recently had a seed surgically removed from my labs side after a lump appeared earlier this year. Vet thought it maybe entered through the nostril and made it into the lungs. Then worked it's way through the lung to the rib cage where it was lodged. had to remove the lump and the tract that went back into the rib cage. not a good experience for her or my pocketbook.

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WaveWacker

For those of you that may be worried as CWR (Canada Wild Rye) is a component in your CRP (or private land that you know the owners) and what do we do now that it's there, there is a possibility to significantly reduce the overall percent coverage. First of all, let's back up some...

CWR historically was a component in many CRP type mixes. It is a cool season grass as compared to the warm season Big/Little bluestem, Indian Grass, Switch Grass, etc. The cool season varieties grow rapidly in the first years of establishment to provide good cover while the slower maturing warm season's become established.

The cool season grasses also with begin to "green up" earlier in the spring as they don't require as high of a soil temp to begin growth (hence the cool/warm season descriptions). Well once the warm season's have become established, a later spring burn will begin to set back the cool seasons and promote more warm season grass establishment. Many times obviously a burn is difficult to accomplish on your own but on CRP lands, there may be some funding set up in the contract for mid-contract management (burning is one practice eligible) in which one could hire the task out.

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Troller

Well this scares the heck out of me....never heard of this.

Worse yet, I know my dog has been in this stuff, and he has had odd bouts of seemingly needless head-shaking...

I always chalked that up to nervousness/excitement/anxiety because it usually happens when we first get home, when I'm about to train with him, when we're getting out of the truck to hunt, etc.

Please tell me I'm just being a hypochondrac.

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jparrucci

Mine has done the same thing Troller, just another thing to worry about I guess. I have a cabin up on Lake Vermilion, which is a hot bed for Blastomycosis, which is killing off dogs left and right up that way. Now I have to worry about him even around here and pheasant hunting. I had never heard about this until a couple of days before this post went up, when my taxidermy guy said he had one dog killed from grasses and another have a close calls. Do they make giant clear hamster balls for dogs?

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Troller

Well that's just fantastic....I wish they made one of those hamster balls for them smile

On the other hand, I have to remind myself that of all the dogs owned and hunted by family and friends over the years, none (That I know of) have had blasto, lepto, grass awns, or anything exotic like that.

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FCspringer

Hopefuly they will start burning it, thats a good way to get it knocked out.

Pulling it out as you see it helps as well.

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DRH1175

Wow thanks. Never knew this and I know my dog has been through it numerous times over the years. Something else I will need to look out for. Thanks for Posting!

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FCspringer

In talking to a native grass producer. He suggested to mow at 8-10 inches tall in the fall before it seeds out, then round up at the first week and a half of green up in the spring. Rye is a cold season grass so the warm seasons will not be affected as they germinate about 3 weeks later. But you have to be on or you could kill some warm grasses as well.

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jjz

2 dogs. 4 procedures to remove grassy awns. It is a problem for hunting dogs. I have springers but I guess most dogs have trouble with them.

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CANOPY SAM

Geez. This stuff is scattered all over the country up here! Can anyone maybe post a picture of what this seed would look like?

In the earlier post (FCSpringer), wouldn't RoundUp kill everything? I know it's a broadleaf herbacide, but I think you'd nearly wipe out your CRP altogether if you mowed, then hit it with Roundup?

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creepworm

Not if you spray when the cool season grasses (Canadian Rye) are active but the warm season grasses (Bluestem) are still dormant. Plants need to be actively growing in order to take in the herbicide. There is some risk and you would have to really watch to get the timing right, but it can be quite effective.

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FCspringer

Geez. This stuff is scattered all over the country up here! Can anyone maybe post a picture of what this seed would look like?

In the earlier post (FCSpringer), wouldn't RoundUp kill everything? I know it's broad leafaf herbacide, but I think you'd nearly wipe out your CRP altogether if you mowed, then hit it with Roundup?

Sorry been gone for a while.. No you will not hurt your warm season grasses. OK Now I have done this on my new seeding for 2 years straight. I bought my seed from the largest pure seed producer in the upper MN region. They supply most everyone. Garth worked with me and helped me understand what is really very simple. Your unwanted cold season grasses germinate about 2-2 1/2 weeks before the warm seasons. So getting rid of C rye, brome and others is not hard. First I mowed to 10" to a foot at the first sign of seed heads. Mow twice if you need. Or you can bale it like I did this year. Then in the spring, U will see all the brome grass in the ditches greening up, yard grass etc. It will start to sprout green in your stand. Once you see a few days of good germination, wait about 1,1/2 weeks and kill the heck out of it with good roundup. 3 oz per gallon is a good rate. It will look bleak and dead after a week. But then the green up will start again, with warm seasons. Such as switch, blues, indian, and so on. Now this will kill broad leaf forbes, flowers etc as well. But, when establishing a nice stand with no unwanted colds, don't worry. Because you can buy pure flower seed in many varieties from them as well. And after a few years, when it is a nice clean stand, blend in flowers desired by broad casting them in. This worked very well for me, and I plan 1 more treatment this spring. I will wait 2 weeks this time, now that I have done it I will not worry even if I catch a few warms. My stand came up shoulder high, thick as heck this year. So even if I thin it a bit, no problem. Here it is after the warms came in after spraying this spring. And how it looks now. It will look awesome next year. Then I will put some flowers in, such as black eyed susan, wild sunflowers etc. It was loaded with grass hoppers this year clean, but some flowers is good for more insects like bees and so on. Thistle can be controlled with curtail after the warms grow. Curtail will kill all but grass. I am pretty much thistle and weed free, as well as Rye. I could only find one Rye plant this fall, which was hand killed, and seed plucked. I leave the plant so the roundup works on the root. If you have an ATV sprayer this is very easy.

These are pics after spray, re green, and how it looks right now. Ready for last treatment in the spring.

DSCN0642.jpg

DSCN0634.jpg

DSCN0480.jpg

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natertater83

good to know

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