What is the problem with grass seeds for dogs?
Grass seeds can be very problematic for dogs during the summer months. They have pointy ends and can become trapped in your dog’s fur. They can then make their way through the coat and can pierce the skin; their barbs mean they can only go in one direction, so they burrow into your dog’s skin, causing pain and often introducing infection. This is particularly common between the toes, especially in breeds with fur between the toes. They are also prone to going down the ears (especially in breeds with flappy ears such as Spaniels), up the nose or getting stuck in the eyes. Grass seeds have also been known to burrow under the skin and travel to other parts of the body.
What are the symptoms of your dog eating grass seeds?
The symptoms will depend on which part of the body is affected, but you may notice something is wrong soon after coming back from a walk.
Grass seed stuck in ear:
- Rubbing and scratching at ear
- Head shaking
- Head tilt
Grass seed stuck between toes:
- Licking at the paw
- Red, swollen area between the toes
- Limping/lameness on affected foot
Grass seed in the eye:
- Rubbing the eye
- Red eye
- Discharge from eye
- Squinting eye or keeping closed
Grass seed up the nose:
- Pawing at the nose/face
- Discharge/bleeding from the nose
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How are grass seed issues in dogs diagnosed?
The vet will often suspect a grass seed issue given the clinical history and physical examination findings. Then will then recommend further investigation and treatment based on this.
How are grass seed issues in dogs treated?
Treatment will depend on where the grass seed is and how deeply it is buried. If it is just sticking out of the skin it can usually be removed fairly easily. However, if it is buried in the skin or down the ear/up the nose then the dog will normally have to be sedated or anaesthetised to allow it to be retrieved safely. Your dog may then need anti-inflammatories and antibiotics if you vet thinks there is infection present.
Can I prevent grass seed wounds in dogs?
The best way to deal with grass seeds is to prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place, by removing them from your dog’s coat before they have had a chance to penetrate the skin. Check their coat after walks and remove any that you find. If they have fur between the toes then consider getting this trimmed during the summer to reduce the chances of a problem with grass seeds.