At this time of the year we see grass seed problems on a very regular basis. Grass seeds are shaped like tiny darts, once they have pierced the skin (toes, ears, eyes, coat, etc.), the grass seed can’t get out and will track their way through the body. Their bristly arrow-like fibres allow them to cling with ease onto your dog's hair, while the pointed shape makes it easy for them to dive deeper and deeper.
Why are Grass Seeds such a problem?
Grass seeds can cause severe problems in dogs, and in particular circumstances can even lead to surgery to remove them. The seeds can enter the nose, get between the eye and eyelids, burrow their way into the deep fur around the toes and feet, and can even make their way into the ears, resulting in severe pain, inflammation and the risk of infection.
How will you notice if grass seeds are causing a problem?
Grass Seeds in the Ear: You may notice your dog itching, shaking his head, rubbing his head along the floor and even walking at a tilted angle. Grass seeds in the ear can potentially cause a range of problems, and if in doubt, seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Grass Seeds in the Eye: Any kind of irritation and pain on or around the eye is highly uncomfortable and can cause serious, long term problems including blindness. If a grass seed is present, you may notice your dog's eye become inflame and red, perhaps even watery. Seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Grass Seeds in the Nose: A seed in the nose may cause your dog to sneeze, rub its nose, and may result in some nasal discharge.
Grass Seeds in the Skin: You may notice your dog persistently chewing and licking an area, attempting to both itch and remove the seed itself. If you notice your dog excessively chewing itself and itching, following a walk, seek veterinary attention.
Grass Seeds entering the Mouth: If a grass seed is swallowed, it may become lodged in the throat, causing inflammation and swelling. If this happens, your dog may cough, attempt to vomit, have difficulty eating or refuse to eat altogether. Grass seeds can be inhaled through the mouth and enter the lungs. Sudden onset coughing or retching should always be investigated further.
What can you do to prevent this from happening?
The most obvious solution to prevent these problems occurring is to stop your dog from entering grassy fields. Stick to short, lawn-type grass and pathway walks or forested areas where grass seeds will be at a minimum.
By having your dog clipped short, particularly around the toes, feet, arm-pits and ears you will have a much higher chance of spotting the seeds and the seeds will have less chance of being able to cling on.
Check regularly, particularly after every walk. You may have difficulty spotting the smaller seeds, so comb your dog with a fine brush to make sure nothing is clinging on. Often, your dog will be coated in various seeds around the body. You may notice that the matted clumps of hair are formed due to grass seeds. If you can’t brush them out, you may have to cut them out.
It is not uncommon for a grass seed to enter the dog through the toes and travel all the way up the leg and we have seen them travel as far as the shoulder!
All dogs are at risk from grass seeds but long haired, long eared dogs like spaniels, and dogs with hairy feet are especially susceptible.
If in doubt - give us a shout!