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Itchy Dog? Could it be Bedstraw weed?


click image for larger image of Bedstraw Plant

By Korin Unka

I have made a post in the past on Itchy Dogs, however this is a post more about one particular weed which is really bad and affects Teddy, my spoodle. For a long time I have tried to work out why at certain times of the year he gets very itchy and gets welts. In the past I put this down to fleas however now I believe the main cause is a weed called Bedstraw (Galium aparine). Coming into Spring I treated Teddy for fleas and sprayed my carpet with a Kiwicare product to kill any living in there. However Teddy still got these bad itchy welts which he spent along time scratching. They would get worse the more he scratched and were mainly located around his stomach area. One day recently I was doing some gardening and saw him wonder into an over grown area. He came out with a piece of Bedstraw weed attached to him which made me think this could be the cause of his itchiness. So the other day I decided to walk down to where the weed is located and he followed. Sure enough that night he started to scratch and the next day he got welts. Previously I had given him some medication to bring down the welts and rash, however this time I didn’t bother. Sure enough after several days they went down. So this is just a warning to other dog owners who are wondering what maybe causing red welts, rashes or just causing your dog to itch. This weed also gets even worse for woolly dogs towards the end of summer. Their seed pods are small balls with tiny spikes on them which get easily caught up in spoodles coats. It can be common to see hundreds stuck in there from them just walking once through a small bush. This can mean sitting there for hours on end either brushing or picking them out. If left they will just knot up there coat and cause them irritation. So this weed really sucks for woolly dogs. Ironically this plant is also related to the coffee plant and it’s seeds can be dried and used as coffee. So perhaps you can think of it as your dog collecting coffee beans for you 😉

rash welts from bedstraw

click image for larger image of Teddy’s rash

What is Bedstraw (Galium aparine) Weed? It is an annual herbaceous weed, a native to North America and Eurasia. Bedstraw is often found in its vegetative stage over winter, and produces fruits in mid to late spring. It is a clambering weed with long weak stems that climb up over surrounding plants and structures such as fences, so the hooks also help keep the plant in place. Galium aparine is edible. The leaves and stems of the plant can be cooked as a leaf vegetable, if gathered before the fruits appear. However, the numerous small hooks which cover the plant and give it its clinging nature, can make it less palatable if eaten raw. Geese also thoroughly enjoy eating G. aparine, hence one of its other common names, “goosegrass”. I have found that it does make my dog itchy and leaves welts when in contact. I also notice that it leaves marks on me when I try removing it using my hands so there is obviously a reaction occurring there.

If you do have a dog and it’s getting itchy or gets rashes or hives check your property for this weed, especially if you have done a flea treatment on them. It is best to either spray the weed ( I use hitman organic spray) or just to keep the areas affected by this weed trimmed. It’s best to not let it seed as this can get really annoying with the seeds sticking to your dogs coat.

bedstraw covered

click image for larger image of overgrown area filled with Bedstraw

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