AN abundance of grass seeds is wreaking havoc with the canine population throughout the Riverina.
The earlier spring flush, followed by plenty of late seasonal rain in 2021, has made the grass seed issue a challenging one for dog owners.
Matt Whitley is president of the Wagga Working Dog Club and regularly uses dogs on his Mangoplah property and also at the Wagga Livestock Marketing Centre.
He said grass seeds in dogs could be easy to spot and his best advice was to look for grass seeds early. Especially before complications started to play out.
"You will soon know because the dog tends to hold their head on the side, it's like they are trying to shake it out," he said.
Mr Whitley said he uses tweezers to take the grass seeds out, if he finds them early.
The unfortunate downside to untreated grass seeds is they often result in a trip to a vet.
"If they aren't plucked out soon enough, you would have to go to the vet and get them taken out or washed out," he said.
"The next issue, if left, is that they can become infected."
The weeds commonly called "cat-heads" and "bindis" are also prevalent.
"They can be nearly as bad as the grass seeds," Mr Whitley said. He said a cat-head in the paw could obviously be quite painful.
"These are all seasonal issues because there is so much grass around," he said.
The consequences of grass seeds are not limited to working dogs, with many pet owners opting to use grooming services and clipping options to help provide an element of protection.
Mr Whitley said short-haired dogs often fare better during grass seed season.
Meanwhile a Charles Sturt University study, which drew on data from a five-year period, found frequent grooming provided some protection from health problems caused by grass seeds.
Lecturer in small animal medicine, Dr Martin Combs said said clipping the coat, or searching for grass seeds in the coat, without grooming, was ineffective.
"People often clip a dog's coat to stop grass seeds, but this removes only the top coat, we think it is the removal of the dense undercoat that is the key in reducing the number of grass seeds attaching to the coat," Dr Combs said.
"Most owners are familiar with seeds in feet or ears, but perhaps they don't realise we also see dogs with seeds lodged near their kidneys, their heart or even in their brain."
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