Grass seeds can be one of the most common problems suffered by your pet, especially for dogs in the summer months. Due to the shape of the grass seed, which has a sharp pointed end and arrow-shaped body, they can easily be brushed onto the animal as they run through grasses, travel through the fur, and penetrate the animal’s skin. They can even manage to burrow into the body. They can often be found in ears, eyes or feet, and because grass seeds can carry bacteria, infections arise requiring antibiotic treatment. If untreated, the infection can spread and in severe cases, surgery may be needed to remove the contaminant as it travels through the body. If not found and removed, the infections will keep returning.
Most cases happen in spring and summer, especially when wild meadows are left to grow, so try to keep walks to where grass has been cut short.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms can be different depending on what part of the body has been affected.
Generally, signs to look out for include head shaking, scratching or eyes and nose discharge. Look out for irritation, swelling, coughing and refusal to eat.
If a grass seed finds it’s way to the stomach, it can be digested. However, there is also a possibility to pierce the digestive tract and surrounding tissues leading to other infected areas.
Treatment and Prevention
Prevention is always the best cure, so keep your dogs’ hair cut short and avoid long grassy areas when out walking. Always check your dog thoroughly for grass seeds after every walk.
Look out for strange behaviors as mentioned above. The earlier the problem is identified, the easier it is to treat.
Take your pet to the vet if you think there is a grass seed problem. It may be easy to extract depending on how embedded it is and the location of the seed. It is always best to remove the seed as early as possible to avoid later complications and discomfort.
Our grass seed patients
Poor Finley came into our Wimbledon Vets to see our lovely vet Harriett after his owner noticed he was shaking his head a lot and had some discharge in his right ear.
On examination, it was found that poor Finley had a grass seed stuck in his ear. Finley’s ear was very sore so it was recommended to sedate him to ensure we removed the whole grass seed and make it as pain-free for Finley as possible.
We successfully removed 2 grass seeds out of poor Finley’s ear. The discharge in Finley’s ear was caused by the grass seed scratching against the ear canal causing an infection. Finley’s ear was cleaned well to remove all the discharge.
Here is the lovely Phoebe. Phoebe’s concerned owner brought her along to see our vet Mary at The Animal Clinic, as Phoebe started shaking her head and seemed uncomfortable.
As you will see from the photo, the problem(s) are clear! These were all removed from Phoebe’s paws and one of her ears!
Luckily we can say, she is feeling much better now
During grass seed season, we would suggest avoiding exercise in long grass if possible and routinely checking your dog’s ears/paws after every walk.
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