Long grass in parks present lethal danger for dogs
A recent trend across Ealing is for the council to beautify our parks by keeping grass long in areas around trees to create a meadow vista effect. These designated areas may also get planted with wild flowers which look lovely and encourage bees to support our entire eco system.
Cockapoo's at risk
However this has unleashed a lethal danger to dogs, especially the longer curly hair breeds such as Cockerpoo, Cocker and Springer Spaniels. We have suffered at first-hand with our cockapoo Wilbur who whilst playing in the long grass in parks has got grass seeds lodged inside his ears for the second time in two weeks! First time around, the vet was able to fish the offending grass seed just using crocodile forceps without the use of anesthetic. Whilst this was painful it did get resolved really quickly. The second event was worse in some respects, because of his new found terror of the vets. This time they had no choice but to put him under anesthetic for the grass seed removal procedure which meant a whole day at the surgery and he came back wiped out, stressed and unhappy.
The variety of grass seed which is particularly problematic and dangerous is what is known as Foxtail grass. Where the top of the grass is shaped like and arrow or dart and as it works it's way into the fur it fans out much like a rawl plug into a wall. This makes it difficult to get out and ends up travelling down the dogs ear canel until it hits the ear drum and risks perforating the ear.
If you are worried your dog has grass seed inside ears or paws, signs of grass seed infection to look out for are head shaking and licking of paws.
Injuries caused by grass seed
And it's not just ears, talking to other dogs owners, I hear regular reports of grass seeds stuck between the soft area in paws which can cause infection and worse still grass stuck in the eye which will cause infection and possible absesses. The local vets say they are seeing 10-12 dogs per week come into surgey with grass seed related injuries.
I guess the wider population (non-dog owners) who share and enjoy our parks will simply say don't let your dogs play in the long grass. But in practical terms, if your dog is hell-bent on running in long grass you can do very little about it except permanently have him on the lead and not fully excercised.
What is the solution?
Well, in my panic and confusion, I've even researched into protective head gear for dogs - like an anti-grass seed dog hoodie! If there is such a thing, (by the way) there isn't - I've googled it!
Whilst it would be crazy to suggest we erradicate all long grass/wild flowers parts of the park (even though it would protect our doggies health), can some common-sense be applied with dogs and dog owners being the biggest uers of our lovely parks? There are designated areas for sports (and long grass!), so why not special areas where it is safe for dogs to play too?
Councils need to re-examine how they are designing parks NOW. Otherwise our beloved pet dogs continue to go through pain and potentially life changing injuries for the sake of keeping long grass that looks nice.
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