Summer in Oregon is amazing, right? The sun is shining, the rivers are glistening, and the cheatgrass is blooming.
Oh cheatgrass… the bane of my summer existence. But it doesn’t have to be so bad. Below are some tips to help avoid getting cheated, but first let me explain what cheatgrass actually is, for those new to Central Oregon.
Cheatgrass’ entire purpose, much like any living thing on the planet, is to reproduce. It can become a nuisance to pups once the plant dries out and drops its tiny barbed seed pods, which can get into paws, eyes, nostrils, and burrow its way into fur or skin. Cheatgrass usually reaches its prime in summer and early fall and it is quite invasive. They contain teeny tiny barbs that enable the seed to work its way deep into skin and fur, and even into mucus membranes. The barbs are one-way, similar to porcupine quills, causing them to be near impossible to get out.
- familiarize yourself with cheatgrass and know what it looks like, in all stages of its life. take note of what trails you see it on and where you don’t.
- check your pet after every outing. you should check your pup’s entire body over, paying extra close attention to ears, eyes, nose, mouth, under the collar or harness, between toes, and paw pads. yea, everywhere.
- haircuts and grooming. keep those coats trimmed and brushed to limit the amount of fluff for cheat to grasp onto. keep the hair between the toes nice and short, as this is the most common place for cheat to hide in.
- have a second set of eyes check your pup.
- make sure your pup isn’t munchin’ on cheat. most dogs enjoy a nibble of grass here and there, but double check to they aren’t ingesting cheat as it can get into the lungs and abdomen and cause serious infections.
- keep your dog on leash in areas with a lot of cheat, just to keep them from venturing into it.
If your pup has been attacked by cheatgrass, look for signs of infection such as fatigue, loss of appetite, and swelling. If you notice your pup sneezing, shaking its head, scratching its ears a lot, excessively licking, specifically on paws and in between toes, you may want to swing by the vet clinic. Look for any redness, swelling, or drainage. You can remove cheatgrass yourself if it hasn’t gone too deep, but some cases require the barbs to be surgically removed.
Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to cheat than others. Long hair can hide cheat very easily, make sure your pup is free of dreadlocks to avoid cheat burrowing into them. Curly hair seems to just suck up cheat, doodles are an excellent target. Wire hair is thick and hides cheat well.