Dogs And The Danger Of Grass Seeds

Who would have thought that something as seemingly harmless as a grass seed could cause so much trouble!

Shaped like a spear, with one way barbs, they can work their way into your dog’s body and cause multiple ailments. From abscesses to painful nerve damage to ongoing long-term complications, grass seeds can be nasty little things.

 Grass Seeds  

Read on to find out how you can keep your dog safe this season:

One of the most common problems we see here, is the grass seed that has worked its way in-
between dog’s toes.

It mainly affects breeds that have hairy feet, but can be an issue in any breed. Usually the seed gets trapped in hair, then over the next few days migrates into the skin.

If not noticed, the seed can travel through the skin, and make its way up between the tendons and ligaments. With its one way barbs, it can only travel forwards not backwards, migrating up limbs continuously with time.

Sometimes these seeds can end up in places you would least expect like the spine, abdominal or chest cavities.

As the body reacts to the seed as “foreign”, its starts to fight against it to try and get rid of it, resulting in an infection and painful swelling. 

These are the signs you may see if your dog has a stuck grass seed in his foot:

  • Excessive licking/chewing of the foot
  • Lameness
  • A lump/bump that looks red and sore somewhere on the body (usually between the toes) often discharging clear fluid or pus.
  • Being unwell (signs of a fever such as not eating or lethargy)

Sometimes the seeds can be removed by the vet during consultation, but if the seed has travelled up the foot or leg at all, sedation may be required to probe/further explore the area.

Occasionally the vet may not be able to find the seed (if it has popped out the other side of the foot, or migrated too far to be followed) but without exploring, they won’t know whether the seed is still there and is the cause of the swelling/infection, or if the infection/swelling is present because the seed WAS there!

If left, your dog may need contrast X-rays or advanced imaging (CT or MRI) to find them, usually requiring a costly specialist referral.

Another common problem with grass seeds, is if they get into your dog’s ear canal

These are the signs you may see if your dog has a stuck grass seed in his ear:

  • Shaking head constantly
  • Holding head to one side
  • Painful to touch ear
  • Redness or lump/swelling of ear
  • Discharge or infection inside the ear

Again, if the grass seed is deep in the ear canal, your dog may need to be sedated to remove it, as having one stuck can be incredibly painful for your dog and may result in the ear drum rupturing.

Prevention is key!

  • Be sure to check your dog’s feet and inner ears daily, especially after a walk.
  • If you have a long haired dog, keep his feet and ear hair trimmed back
  • Keep long-haired dogs groomed (grass seeds are more likely to become trapped in matts, and are often full of them)
  • If you do notice a lump or bump that isn’t normally there, seek veterinary advice ASAP.

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