What exactly is a spikelet?
It is an inflorescence of plants of the grass family, found in weeds of meadows, parks, along country roads, on vacant lots, etc. Grasses grow in spring and dry out with heat: the spikelets then detach to disperse seeds and cling to living beings to be disseminated.
The shape of a spikelet is reminiscent of a well-contoured arrow: a narrow point and a wide base that prevents any going back. As soon as the spikelet gets caught in the coat, it progresses thanks to the movements of the animal.
Nostrils and ears: the favorite places of spikelets
Gaetane, in Carnon (Hérault) remembers the return from a walk with his Beauceron: "He kept scratching his ear, he went crazy, he moaned and shook his head incessantly. The vet put him to sleep and showed me the spikelet he removed: I was surprised by its length! The symptoms described by Gaetane are really typical of the spikelet stuck in the ear.
The other common location: a nostril! By sniffing in the herbs, a spikelet can get in. Here too, it is quite eloquent: immediate and violent sneezing crisis, sometimes with blood and the dog rubs his muzzle on the ground. It is rare for the spikelet to come out without the intervention of a veterinarian equipped with spikelet clips!
Sometimes very atypical symptoms
Marie testifies, from Perpignan: "Last summer, I consulted a veterinarian for bloody discharge from the anus of my dog Stan, a Fauve cross from Brittany. Several antibiotic treatments have been implemented on an infection of the glands, without results. Finally, he underwent surgery to remove an gland, and there was discovered inside a spikelet! He had entered through the anus and settled in the gland. After the ablation, everything returned to normal. »
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Sheath and vulva are also natural orifices in which the spikelets sometimes lodge: the dog licks and abnormal discharge is noticed.
The spikelet can also, by its hard tip, puncture the skin if it gets stuck between the fingers. He then rushes into a tunnel that he creates himself and advances in the flesh, becoming a "migrant foreign body". The result: an abscess sometimes very far from the initial entry point that manifests itself weeks later!
How to limit the risk?
If possible, choose walking areas that are not at risk, and maintain your garden well to avoid the growth of grasses. Some breeds are more often concerned: hunting dogs that go in tall grass, dogs with a long and woolly hair and those with drooping ears (cocker spaniel, Springer, setter, briard, poodle ...).
Do not hesitate to make them groom short on sunny days or to cut the hair yourself at the entrance of the auricular pinna and at the end of the paws. Finally, each time you return from a "risky" walk, you sift through your pet: you inspect between your fingers, pads, and around the orifices, you raise your ears and you also look under your lips.