• May 28, 2023

Summer, danger forasacchi: how to defend our dog

A run in a meadow in the evening, as soon as the coolness arrives, or a walk along the path of a park to make them have some fun. This is what dogs expect at the end of a long, hot day. And it’s a pleasure to please them, but you have to do it with some foresight because in the summer you find yourself fighting against a sneaky and infesting enemy: the forasacco.

“From May to September every day we remove forasacchi, especially from the nose and ears – explain from the Emergency Department of the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Parma – then in winter all those cases arise in which the forasacchi have managed to migrate and have caused of abscesses “. A danger to know better.

They are the seeds of wild grasses that grow in fields, gardens, but also along roadsides. When these ears are dry, they detach from the stem and become a danger for our animals, especially from April to October. Their pointed, arrow-shaped conformation is covered with a sharp part made specifically to allow entry into the ground and then germinate. The problem is that the ease with which the forasacco enters the earth is similar to that with which it penetrates the body of our animals, from the fur to the skin. And the graminaceous arista once entered, given its conformation, never goes back.

Because they are dangerous

The shape, the hook-like offshoots and the umbrella-like opening allow the forasacchi to get caught on the animal’s hair and to continue in one direction, ending up in contact with the skin, penetrating it. Once inside, they continue their journey causing infections and even severe abscesses.


The most frequent places where the forasacco enters are the spaces between the toes, in the upper part of the fingertips, on the thighs and under the belly, but also around the genital areas, when sitting, and can reach the foreskin and vagina. In reality, any place is good, so when returning from the walk or the park it is good to have a thorough look at our pet, accompanied by a brush.

Sometimes you can see a small piece of ear, if it is half out you can try to extract it by grabbing it with tweezers and gently pulling it out. However, it is necessary that it all go out, because if a part remains inside it continues its way. If, on the other hand, you notice a swelling, if the dog licks itself a lot and pains, it means that it has already entered and requires the intervention of a veterinarian.

In the ears

It is not difficult for the forasacchi to arrive directly in the ear of our four-legged friend. The symptoms are: constant shaking of the head, attempts to scratch to remove the intruder, the head tilted to the painful side. They are usually removed easily without major damage, unless they remain there for weeks, carrying bacteria and causing purulent ear infections that can cause problems with the eardrum.

The dog runs, jumps, has fun in the grass, barks, then the scenario suddenly changes: it stops and begins to sneeze violently, repeatedly. The reason? A forasacco entered the nose during inspiration. One of the nostrils may bleed and it is important to observe which one to indicate to the vet, avoiding the dog a double “inspection”.

“In large animals it is possible to work with the otoscope, for smaller ones, under 5 kilos, an endoscope and a deeper sedation are needed. However, they generally get stuck in the nose and do not cause problems with the respiratory tract. “, they explain to the veterinary hospital. The spikelet must necessarily be extracted in order not to cause rhinitis and more, sometimes it is ingested and the gastric juices solve the problem, but in rare cases it ends up in the lungs. And there the situation is more complex.

Aspirated with the mouth

The greatest danger is when dogs run with their mouths open, the forasacco is aspirated from the oral cavity and, through the trachea, ends up in a bronchus, causing a strong cough with bleeding. This can create infections and abscesses. The foreign body must be extracted and can be done with bronchoscopy under deep anesthesia. The risk is that, by remaining in place, it can puncture the lung tissue and make extraction more difficult, causing pneumonia that can even be fatal.

“The chronic cough arrives after some time because the forasacco migrates – they explain again from the veterinary hospital – Then the CT scan is done and sometimes the fistulas are seen but the ear is not found. In case of abscesses it is necessary to intervene with a Surgical curettage. We have also happened to remove them near the aorta. If, on the other hand, they are identified first, at the bronchial and pulmonary level, a bronchoscopy and an operation with an endoscope are enough “.

In the rest of the body

It can happen, especially to cats, that the forasacco insinuates itself into the conjunctival sac or under the third eyelid. That eye will start to water, it will be half closed and our friend will try to scratch it. Just put eye drops and local antesthetic and take off with tweezers. Veterinarian intervention is important because it could cause conjunctivitis, ulcers and even ocular perforation. The forasacco can also end up stuck in the gums.


The only prevention is to avoid fields where forasacchi are present or where they have just been cut and to make a careful examination of our animal upon returning from a walk. Better to choose a place farther away or smaller but cleaner than to get it under the knife.

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