Danger to life: Why dogs shouldn’t romp around in the cornfield

Dog awns field deadly
Photo: Public Domain CC0 – Pixabay/ natalie-photographie87

Dogs love to romp through meadows and fields. But there is a great danger lurking there: awns, as the organization Vier Pfoten, among others, warns. In the worst case, the damage can be life-threatening. Find out how to protect your dog here.

A dog romping across a grain field – which sounds idyllic, could actually harm four-legged friends. The animal welfare foundation Vier Pfoten warned in a press release in 2022: awns, i.e. the bristle- or thread-like plant parts of grain and other meadow plants, can become a danger to dogs and, in the worst case, lead to the death of the animal.

The plant parts have small barbs that can get caught on the dog’s body. As soon as the awns have become embedded in the dog’s fur, they penetrate deeper with every movement, according to the press release. Once the plant parts have burrowed into the dog’s skin, they can cause infections, inflammations or abscesses at the affected area. When romping, dogs can also swallow awns or ingest them through their nose and ears. The foreign bodies can then migrate through the gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory tract, for example, and cause life-threatening damage, warns the animal welfare organization.

Protect your dog from awns: What you can do

If you want to protect your four-legged friend from awns, you should take a few precautions. Sarah Ross, pet expert at Vier-Pfoten, advises not letting your dog run through tall grass or grain fields at the moment.

According to the expert, you should also:

  • keep the fur short, especially on the paws,
  • brush out the undercoat and
  • Check the dog for awns after every walk.

If you find awns that have only slightly penetrated the skin, you should remove them with tweezers, advises Ross. “However, if an awn is already deeper in the skin, the dog must be taken to a vet immediately so that the awn can be removed and the dog can receive anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication.”

Symptoms: How to recognize awn infestation in dogs

Awns cannot always be seen with the naked eye – depending on the location, the dog shows different symptoms.

It is particularly common for awns to dig into the paw between the toes, for example. In this case, the dog licks and bites its paw or may limp. If the awn gets into the paw, a small hole can be seen at the point of entry, from which secretion emerges.

“If it is in the ear, the dog will show this by scratching the ear or shaking his head frequently. It is also possible that the dog holds his head at an angle and a foul-smelling fluid comes out of the ear,” explains Sarah Ross from Vier-Pfoten.

“Awns in the nose can cause sneezing, nasal discharge or nosebleeds. If awns migrate through the dog’s nose and windpipe to the lungs, this leads to sudden and persistent coughing or shortness of breath: This is an absolute threat to the dog’s life.”

If the dog scratches its eyes more often, this could be a sign that awns have become stuck there. According to Vier-Pfoten, tearing and sensitivity to light are also symptoms of foreign bodies in the eye.

Of course, the symptoms can also have other causes. Sarah Ross still recommends a visit to the vet, “because the consequences can range from relatively harmless abscesses or infections to middle ear infections or pneumonia and, in the worst case, the death of the animal.”

By the way, awns are not only a danger for dogs, but also for cats. According to the animal welfare organization TASSO, the symptoms are very similar – the fur of cats that go outside should also be checked and a veterinarian should be consulted if awn infestation is suspected.

Read more on Techzle\.com:

  • Heatwave & Dog: Do’s and Don’ts for the hot days
  • Dog ice cream: How to make ice cream for dogs yourself
  • 8 tips to minimize your dog’s carbon footprint

Recent Articles

Related Stories