Keiva, the 8-year-old Maltese cross, somehow survived for 18 months away from her loving home before being reunited with her owners in late November 2020.
She came to us in a dreadful state after our rescue team received a report from a worried animal lover. Poor Keiva had grass seed wounds all over her body. It was one of the worst cases of grass-seed related injuries our vets had seen.
It’s difficult to imagine the pain poor Keiva was experiencing. Her misadventure is a stark reminder of how dangerous grass seeds can be to our furry friends.
Every pet owner’s worst nightmare
You may have read the remarkable story of Keiva in the media. The little dog was missing for 18 months before being reunited with her family at our Lonsdale animal shelter.
Lauren and Mark adopted little Keiva when she was a puppy. They shared six years of happiness until every pet owner’s worst nightmare came true – Keiva went missing.
Returning home after a night out, Lauren and Mark had no clue where their little dog had gone, but they suspected she had squeezed through a small hole in the fence and escaped.
The couple immediately began a desperate search for her. They put out flyers, posted on various lost dog websites and on social media, and published a missing dog advert in the newspaper. Still, no luck. The only people who reached out to them with information were cruel pranksters who clearly had no empathy for what Lauren and Mark were going through.
Even after 18 months of searching, Lauren and Mark never gave up hope. They kept faith that Keiva’s microchip would help bring her home.
Once lost but now found
In late November, RSPCA received a call from someone reporting they had found a stray dog in Kilburn. The caller was very distressed as it appeared that the dog was suffering from serious wounds. She thought the wounds might be the result of a snake bite, but on further inspection, it soon became clear that this was a very serious case of deeply embedded grass seeds that had caused severe infection.
After being brought to the Lonsdale shelter by RSPCA SA’s Inspector Gary, the dog’s microchip was checked, and lo and behold, it was Keiva!
Inspector Gary immediately contacted Lauren. At first, she assumed it was another prank, but after realising the call was from an RSPCA inspector, Lauren knew the search was finally over.
Keiva required urgent medical attention. Grass seeds were found all over her body, including her feet and even under one eye, and there was a particularly worrying infection under her rear left leg, which was ulcerated, swollen and bleeding.
A very happy reunion
The brave little pup needed to go under anesthesia to have all the grass seeds safely removed and for her wounds to be treated. Our vets had to fully shave her body in order to expose the full extent of the grass seeds’ damage. To avoid any further infection, the brave little battler was put on a long course of antibiotics.
Needless to say, Lauren and Mark were elated to be reunited with their furry friend. If Keiva has never been microchipped, she may have never seen them again.
Miraculously despite 18 months of roaming the streets alone, Keiva recognised her long last family as soon as they walked through the door.
“She wagged her tail and remembered her name. My husband was crying for most of the day”, shares Lauren.
Watch out for grass seeds!
This story highlights two important things – make sure your pets are microchipped, and watch out for grass seeds!
In the warmer months, dogs spend more and more time outside playing in the sun. One of the main risks of a run out in the yard is grass seeds.
Grass seeds pose a serious danger to our furry friends. They embed themselves in lots of places, from paws, noses, ears, eyes and body. The seeds can also carry bacteria and lead to infections, as happened to poor Keiva.
It can be hard to spot grass seed wounds. Behaviour such as licking paws, rubbing their face on the ground, head shaking and genital licking may all sound like common traits for a dog, but keep an eye out if this behaviour becomes excessive as this may indicate the existence of grass seed wounds.
There are also some visual cues to look out for. If a grass seed has become lodged inside your pet’s eye, there may be swelling and redness. Similarly, if they become stuck in their paws or on their body, you may be able to see visible irritation and sometimes even blood or pus.
What to do with a grass seed wound
If you do suspect your dog has a grass seed wound, take it to the vet. They will be able to assess the extent of the wound and determine whether your pet needs to be put under anesthesia to make the removal process an easy and painless one for your pet. If left untreated, there is a serious risk of permanent injuries, such as loss of sight or hearing, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry and go check with your vet so your dog doesn’t suffer the kind of wounds Keiva did.
There are also some things you can do help prevent grass seed wounds. Keep your yard free from barley grass and check your dog’s paws and between their toes after each walk or play outside. Bathing and grooming them regularly also helps. In the spring and summer months, you may also consider asking your dog’s groomer to keep the fur on their feet short so that grass seeds are less likely to become stuck.
Keiva’s remarkable story has a lot of important lessons, but most of all it highlights how crucial microchips are for our pet’s safety and that the threat grass seeds pose to dogs’ health shouldn’t ever be taken lightly.
Please be mindful of your pet’s behaviour in those warmer months and check them regularly for grass seeds.
You can visit this article on our Knowledge Base to find out about the importance of microchips in your furry friends’ safety and well-being.