Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Burdock Burs

On Sunday afternoon we were walking in College Woods in Durham (a favorite local haunt) with our friend Ann and her two dogs Quercus and Persica. Kodi was thrilled to be running with these two canine friends. At one point Kodi started eating grass and other herbaceous vegetation. At first we did not notice, being distracted by an incredibly handsome and soft 14-week old male Siberian husky puppy that was out for a walk with his owner. After we pulled ourselves away from Koda the husky we called Kodi away from his foraging.

Immediately he slunk off into the woods to vomit. He came out happier with tail up but kept licking his lips and every 100 yards or so showed signs of discomfort. We assumed he ate something not suitable for dogs. On the way home he moaned and thrashed a bit in his crate, very unlike him, but he showed no serious signs of distress.

After we got home we noticed a bunch of burs stuck in his fur. One batch we had to cut out with scissors, so tangled they were. We soon realized that he must have licked off and swallowed other burs stuck to his fur. Burdock burs with their hooked bristles can irritate mucous membranes inside the mouth and throat. For the next 24 hours all he wanted to do was eat grass, something that he does not normally do. We assume it was to help himself vomit. Vets seem uncertain why dogs eat grass, but in this case there seemed to be a clear cause and effect. Kodi was eating grass to relieve some measure of pain in his mouth or digestive system. His stomach gurgled a bit and he was restless.

Kodi looked sad for a day, but today he is completely back to normal and has weaned himself off grass. Now, if he can only avoid those pesky burs. An interesting note about burdock burs -- besides the fact that they have an incredibly effective dispersal mechanism by latching onto animals for a free ride -- is that they spawned the idea for Velcro. A Swiss inventor was supposedly walking with his dog when he looked closer at the burs stuck to his clothes and his dog's fur. So now I'm hoping that Kodi leads me to the next big invention.

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