Whitney’s Grass Blade Scare
We all know of the dangers of pesky grass seeds in the warmer Summer months, but did you know that grass blades can also pose a risk to your beloved pet? Unfortunately, our February star pet of the month, Whitney, found this out herself earlier this month.
Three-year-old cat, Whitney, was rushed to Roundwood as an emergency on the 4th of February as a result of gagging and vomiting. Initially, she was given pain relief and an injection to ease her nausea and booked in for sedation the next day.
Under sedation, our vet - Dr Jo, examined her and found a blade of oriental grass lodged in her throat. Unfortunately, as the grass blade was barbed it had caused some trauma to the back of the throat and Whitney also had a small wound under her left eye which Dr Jo believed was from her pawing her face in discomfort. Dr Jo managed to remove the grass blade whilst Whitney was under sedation and Whitney was discharged later that day.
Luckily, since the removal of the grass blade, Whitney has made a full recovery and when we checked in with her Mum two days later she was back to her usual self, eating, drinking, and toileting as normal!
“We simply couldn't be happier with the amount and quality of both advice and help received from the veterinarian team at Roundwood Vets. Dr Jo and the team were truly great dealing with Whitey being a bit nervous and helped her trust them, and they were incredibly kind answering all our questions and concerns we had. It's a priceless feeling to know that we can rely on them when our furry family member requires help!” - Whitney’s owner.
Grass blades are a common foreign body in both cats and dogs, however, it’s unusual to see cases like this in the winter months, as it tends to be in Spring and Autumn when the grass is much longer. Whilst ordinarily cats eating grass is harmless and often passes easily through the stomach and the digestive system, occasionally, (particularly when a cat tries to swallow a long piece of grass), they can gag, causing the grass blade to get stuck behind the soft palate.
As grass blades are slightly barbed - and for poor Whitey, hers was very - these can get stuck. When a grass blade is lodged, it can cause irritation and even infections. In some cases, grass blades can be stuck for several weeks unbeknownst to the pet's owner. However, luckily like for Whitney, upon removal recovery is quick. In most cases, grass blades are removed whilst a cat is under sedation (so the vet can examine the soft palate), however, in some rare cases a cat is able to sneeze out a grass blade!
We always recommend bringing your cat (or dog) to the vet if you suspect they have a lodged grass blade. Symptoms that indicate a stuck grass blade include:
Although we don't really know why dogs and cats eat grass there are a number of theories such as relieving an upset stomach, using it as a natural laxative or aiding digestion, and even using it as a source of folic acid.
Whilst it is scary to think the grass may get stuck, it’s important to note that most pets, especially cats, really enjoy eating grass and it's safe the majority of the time!
To find out more about the issues grass seeds pose, click here to read our article ‘How To Tackle Grass Seeds?’.