Anyone whose dog frequents wild areas of parks, unused industrial land, farm land, many areas of the countryside or even less well-tended gardens (like mine!!). . . that’s virtually every dog owner I would say! Should be aware of the serious damage that can be caused by the seeds - often known as “barley spears” - of the FOXTAIL GRASS (Hordeum murinum or Wall barley) and other related grass varieties. Naturally, if you live in an arable area where barley is grown, this applies too although of course you should never allow your dog to roam into standing crops of any variety.
Foxtail grass

Why are the seeds of these grasses (cereals) so dangerous?

Each seed on the seed head is pointed at one end and has barbed “hairs” at the other. The pointed end can easily be driven into the dog’s skin by the pressure of passing through vegetation or undergrowth or can later travel through the coat and penetrate the skin by the general movement of the dog and the pressure caused by lying down or rolling. Due to the tiny hairs or barbs which are backward-pointing, the seed will not naturally drop out and


This action is facilitated by the barbs ... rather like a fish hook which goes in easily enough but is very tricky to get out!

A single seed - magnified view!
Note the direction in which the barbs lie

The embedded seed will probably cause the dog to lick the site (if it can be reached) or it might become infected . . . or both, and a very painful red, sore swelling will ensue. IF this is noticed in time, the seed can be removed by your vet, hopefully without too much trouble. Serious, potentially VERY serious, problems can develop if the seed is allowed to travel. It will be extremely difficult to locate the seed and, in some cases, major surgery may be needed to locate and remove the offending article. You may imagine the damage that could be caused if a dog inhaled a seed and it entered its lung for example.

More spiky seeds.

QUESTION : what is the key to avoiding this potential danger?

ANSWER : CHECK YOUR DOG EVERY TIME YOU RETURN from an outing when it has been in or through areas of long or longish grass. This might seem tiresome, but it will be time well-spent and could save your dog a lot of suffering and you a lot of money (and suffering!!)

If you have a Newfoundland (as I do) you may have a blaster ... USE IT ... they are not just for wet coats, but should be used regularly on dry coats to rid them of dust, dander and .... grass seeds!!

If you have barbets you probably won’t have a blaster, but if you do, you can use it on a dry coat again, to blast out any debris (personally I wouldn’t recommend its use on a wet barbet coat), but in any case . . .

INSPECT and FEEL your dog all over; check for seeds especially the feet (between pads and toes), head, muzzle and behind ears, chest, fronts of legs, axillae and groin. If you suspect an embedded grass seed seek veterinary advice sooner rather than later!!



Yet again the interests of the "little person" are being trampled underfoot by "Big Business". What makes it worse is that the "Big Business" is posing as a supposedly "green" provider of energy.

Terrestrial wind farms are bad enough, but to despoil thousands of acres of beautiful countryside by erecting pylons to carry the wind-generated energy is, in my opinion, an abomination.
How would this scene look with pylons marching across it?
This is Brechfa Forest . . . where I live.
None of us who live here want it ruined.
PLEASE PLEASE SIGN THIS EPETITION . . . .  wherever you live. It could be YOUR countryside on another occasion!!
The main training season for gundogs is in the summer (the winter is more the working season although training continues throughout the year!!) One of the places we go training has, without extreme care, become potentially very dangerous! The hazard was present last year, but is much worse this year because nobody has done anything about it!! Why? Because landowners have no legal obligation to deal with this hazard, their only obligation is to prevent it from spreading on to other landowners’ property. In my experience they are failing to do so!!

So what is this danger? ..

(Heracleum mantegazzianum)
This non-native species was apparently introduced, from Russia, by the Victorians who thought it would be a stunning architectural plant for their gardens., but it has proven to be a nasty, dangerous and highly invasive species. It is a PHOTOTOXIC plant which means the sap becomes toxic when exposed to UV rays. Its sap causes horrible blistering burns. This plant is a member of the UMBELLIFERAE (e.g. cow parsley,  hogweed, fennel and ground elder) family  and can grow up to 5 METRES in height!!

If your skin should come into contact with the sap of this plant, within about 24 hours blistering will occur. Depending upon the degree of contact, you may end up with . .

THIS . . . OR . . .
. . . THIS . . . OR
THIS ! ! !
and you may, or may not, need hospital treatment.

The blistering can last for  many months, but the overall effect will last for about 2-3 years provided you always cover up when you go outside If you do not do so, the sunlight will reactivate the blisters and you will be back to “square one”. Permanent effects can include scarring and/or a change in pigmentation of the skin. The sap of the  whole plant is dangerous, but the lower part of the hollow stems and petioles, hollow hairs on the plant, foliage, stem, flower and fruit (seed) have the highest concentration and so most serious adverse effects.

This Plant is difficult to miss when fully grown, due to its size, but early in the season it is easily overlooked in undergrowth;  it is commonly found along river banks (although in other places too) and spreads easily as it may have as many as 50,000 seeds which can float downstream, or be easily dispersed by the wind, and create more colonies of the plant.

Typical stock fences are between 3ft 6in and 4 ft so you can see how big these specimens are, and they can get a lot bigger too.

So . . . please BE AWARE and TAKE CARE. (This plant affects animals too)

Have a look at the following links for more information :

Video and very comprehensive information -

Other links –