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We have had four of our own dogs suffer grass awn infections, one with two separate incidents. The increase in the number of grass-awn related infections appears to coincide with the increase in planting of Canada wild rye in conservation mixes in approximately 2001.
Our most recent case of grass awn infection involved Roz, Edwardiana Rhapsody of Beggarbush, a 4 year old female. Culture results of the tissue removed during Roz’ surgery showed actinomyces and bacteroides.
In January (2005) I noticed that Tai had a small lump, about the size of a grape, that felt like it was on the bottom of a rib bone, a few inches back from where he had the abscess in November.
Per their dentist’s recommendation, most people brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day.
For humans, that means better beach days and much needed vacations, but for your animals, the warmer weather can be dangerous. There are many medications available over the counter (OTC) at pharmacies and grocery stores that we consider to be safe, their use to be routine. But I hope that my experiences as a Springer lover might be helpful to someone else in addressing grass awn symptoms in their working dog.
Here are the points that I would stress to anyone who thinks their dog might be affected by a grass awn.
Roz ran a temperature of approximately 104 degrees at Thanksgiving, 2007, and showed discomfort in her back.
He carried himself with obvious discomfort, with his back arched like a whippet and what seemed like some vague lameness on his front feet. He was rechecked on April 11, and on April 26 when his antibiotic was changed to Clavamox, which did seem to have some effect in reducing the size of the lump. Before you panic and head straight for doggy boot camp, the solution may be simpler than you think. When Tigger showed clear symptoms of a pyothorax in 2007, we made the very difficult decision not to treat him because his age and general health suggested that he would not have a positive outcome.


Several additional samples recovered from dogs in Wisconsin were recently submitted for identification. First, be aware that the symptoms of a grass awn infection can be very vague and nonspecific.
Roz usually likes to put her feet up on me to be petted, but she began to avoid doing that and didn’t want to make the short jump into the dog trailer to go training.
On Thanksgiving evening, he presented with an abscess low on his right side, about level with and just behind his elbow. A chest x-ray was clear, and blood work was normal, as was a Snap test to rule out Lyme's disease. He didn’t run at all like himself, though, and when I took him back to the car I realized that his breathing was extremely labored. His activity was restricted for three weeks post surgery, and he was more than ready to get back to work at that time. Actually, when I dig even further back in my memory, we had two other dogs that were treated for localized abscesses with drains and antibiotics (one later developed a fullblown pyothorax).
At that point I believed that Roz had not been exposed to grass awns, so we treated with doxycycline and her symptoms resolved. Considering the extent of her surgery, she was fairly bright when she came home, and did well the next two days, eating with enthusiasm and happy enough to take brief walks on lead. Based on these culture results I am suspicious that Roz may have swallowed the grass awn that caused her infection by migrating out of the intestinal tract. The suspensory ligament supporting the right ovary had to be cut and reattached during her surgery to access the infection in her back and remove the grass awn, so it remains to be seen whether she will have any reproductive repercussions from her procedure.
By the next morning when I got him to the clinic, the abscess had flattened out against the chest wall, so there wasn't much to do but watch it, and he took Clavamox for three weeks. If you have concerns that your dog just isn’t him or herself, consider a visit to your veterinarian and make sure that your concerns are taken seriously. She showed the same symptoms in late January, 2008, so we did a full workup for a “fever of unknown origin” and suspected a urinary tract infection.
As luck would have it, we were supposed to leave that day to compete in the National Open, and happily we did go to Kansas and Tai earned a Certificate of Merit in the trial.


A chest x-ray showed congestion in his chest, and our vet referred us to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Tai was diagnosed with and successfully treated for a pyothorax, which included placing chest drains and periodic flushing of his chest for several days.
Lump slightly larger the next morning, which wasn't surprising especially since I'd compressed it the evening before and repeated that morning. Many veterinarians, particularly those east of the Mississippi that do not have exposure to foxtail infections on a regular basis, or who do not have a lot of working dog clients, will not have a grass awn infection high up on their diagnostic radar.
With no other clues at that time, we again treated with doxycycline, and once again the symptoms disappeared. My concerns about actinomycosis and the possibility that the lameness might be osteomyolitis led me to request that the vet x-ray his left front leg that Monday; those x-rays were clear.
The vet aspirated and took some fluid, no bacteria observed, just lots of white blood cells indicating infection. Your dog surviving a grass awn infection may well depend on you being an observant and informed owner, and you may need to educate your veterinarian. I found an abscess on Roz’ right side to the rear and at the base of her ribcage the evening of April 14th.
It was large and heavy enough that it was dragging on the top staples closing her larger incision and pulling them loose.
The seratoma had increased in size on Thursday and Roz was still not interested in food, so I took her back to UWM to see her surgeon. Her surgery involved removing a piece of a back muscle (approximately 1” x 3”) – a grass awn was found and removed in this area – and removal of the abscess, which necessitated removal of two ribs and insertion of a piece of mesh to close the abdominal wall.
We were concerned that her lack of appetite and slight depression was due to pain, so the surgeon prescribed a new pain patch and oral pain medication for 24 hours until the patch took full effect.



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Comments to «Dogs and grass awns»

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  2. NIGHTWOLF writes:
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  3. farcury writes:
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