Dog owner's grass seed warning after pet paralysed

Letchworth pet pug Frankie

Frankie was left paralysed from the waist down after inhaling two grass awns - Credit: R&Co Communications

A Letchworth dog owner is warning others about the dangers of grass awns after her pet pug was paralysed from the waist down.

Vicky Mycroft’s dog, Frankie, was only two months old and out on his first walk when he inhaled grass awns - sharp bristles which grow from the ear or flower of wild grasses and grains. They can puncture a dog's skin, travel around the body and cause abscesses and infections in major organs.

In Frankie’s case, the awns caused an abscess which compressed his spinal cord and left him paralysed from the waist down.

He was treated at Cambridgeshire veterinary referral centre Dick White Referrals (DWR), where a large abscess and two grass awns in his spinal canal were found during an operation.

Letchworth pet pug Frankie

Frankie made a full recovery after surgery and rehabilitation - Credit: R&Co Communications

Following surgery, nursing care and rehabilitation, Frankie is now fully recovered.

Vicky, 36, said: “It’s scary to think a little grass seed can kill a dog, but it got to the stage where Frankie had to have spinal surgery or be put to sleep.

“I had always wanted to have a pug and we rescued Frankie when he was only a couple of months old. We were out on his first walk on the greenway near our home when he inhaled the seeds.

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“He is now one and making up for lost time, running around and behaving like a typical puppy.”

Vicky wants to warn other dog owners about the dangers of dogs inhaling grass awns, which is a particular problem during summer months.

She said: “Dogs are always going to sniff around on their walks, so I would urge other dog owners to be wary of the dangers of grass awns.”

Dog owners are urged to be vigilant when walking their dogs in fields with tall grass and to check them thoroughly. If any awns get trapped in their fur, remove them immediately.

Simon Tappin, clinical director at DWR, said: “Grass awns are small but the danger they pose to dogs should not be underestimated. They can be swallowed or inhaled, or they can get into a dog’s body by burrowing into the skin.

“If your dog is in distress and you think a grass awn may be to blame, take them to a vet as quickly as possible. The longer a grass awn is inside a dog, the more time it has to travel around the body, reaching major organs and causing problems."