Grass seeds and dogs
Yes, it’s the dreaded grass seed season! These awful bits of greenery can cause severe pain and infection to our canine friends. In my years as a veterinary nurse, I have seen grass seeds removed from paws, ears and eyes! So, I just wanted to provide some advice as to what to look out for, how to avoid them and what to do if you suspect that your dog may have a grass seed in their paw, ear or eye.
Grass seed appearance
As you can see they have an ‘arrow-like’ shape. This sharp end is what ‘burrows’ into the dogs flesh on their paws and can also burrow into ears. In effect the seeds are acting as if they are planting themselves into soil, ready for germination. Once embedded into the flesh, they can be difficult to remove, as they form an ‘umbrella’ shape with the spikes embedding further into the flesh as you try to pull it out.
How to avoid
Grass seeds are found at the top end of long grass. When dogs run through the grass, these seeds can become attached to their fur, especially on their paws and legs and around the face area. Also, they are often found in abundance (in a more dried out form) where grass has been mown and I generally treat these area like a war zone when out walking dogs!
As a routine it is best to brush your dog when you get in from a walk. Run your hands down their legs and ears to feel for any grass seeds that may have attached to their fur. I also check between their toes as this is a very common place for grass seeds to burrow into.
How do I know if my dog has a grass seed?
Paws: Most commonly, seeds embed in between the toes in the fleshy parts of the paw. If your dog is licking incessantly at a paw, check in between their toes and on the under surface of their paw, to look for any swellings and/or what would appear to be a small wound where the grass seed may have entered.
Ear: If your dog is shaking their head a lot or pawing at their ear, this can be a sign that there may be a grass seed in the ear. This can indicate an ear infection as well, so if your dog is doing this, it would be advisable to visit your veterinarian so that they can inspect the ear canal properly.
Eye: This is not as common as finding seeds in paws and ears, but it is definitely a possibility.
Symptoms would possibly include your dog pawing at the affected eye, or rubbing it on surfaces to try and remove it and relieve pain. The eye would quite possibly be red and ‘blinky’ as well.
What should I do?
So a preventative step is to try and discourage your dog from running in areas with grass seeds. Not always easy I know! So it is advisable to inspect your dog’s coat when you return from your walk. Remove any grass seeds. This can eliminate potential seeds embedding in your dog.
If your dog shows any symptoms as discussed above, then it would be advisable to make an appointment with your veterinarian. They can have a proper look in the ear canal to see if there may be a seed there. Eyes are very delicate and I would suggest that if your dog is pawing at their eyes or holding them closed, that they should be seen by a veterinarian regardless of what is causing the problem.
Lastly, if you notice a swelling and your dog is licking at their paw, then it is definitely advisable for them to see the veterinarian. This should be done sooner rather than later, as the seed then has less time to travel up the foot (which they really do!). Not only is this very painful for your dog, it can also cause infection.
Hope that’s been helpful! Virtual hugs to all my canine friends out there!