They may look innocent enough, but grass seeds can present a real danger to your dog. They can latch onto your canine’s coat and cause serious infections if not found and left untreated.
Grass seeds can settle into your dog’s skin and stay there unnoticed for a long time, causing problems like ulcers and ear infections. Here’s how to spot them and protect your pooch…
What are grass seeds?
These barbed seeds – also known as grass awns – can be found in many wild grasses, as well as on barley and rye. They tend to get stuck in your dog’s fluffiest areas, like their paws, ears, tail or armpits. And they can be inhaled, swallowed and cause painful infections. In the worst cases, they can get forced under your dog’s skin and may move around to different parts of their body. As you can imagine, this is extremely uncomfortable.
If grass seeds are not removed quickly, painful abscesses and ulcers can form, along with many other health issues. If your vet suspects your dog has one buried somewhere, he or she’s likely to do some thorough investigation work – even if they can’t see or feel them!
How to spot the effects of grass seeds on your dog
Your dog’s reaction to a grass seed really depends on what part of the body it’s latched onto. Here’s a rundown of where your dog is most likely to get a grass seed stuck, and what symptoms you’ll see in each area:
- Fur – you’ll see no visible infection, but the fur will become matted.
- Ears – your dog is likely to shake its head, scratch or rub the ears and tilt its head more often.
- Feet – grass seeds often find their way under the skin around the paws. This will cause redness and swelling between the toes.
- Eyes – your pup’s likely to have inflamed eyes, discharge and excessive tears
- Nose – sneezing, pawing at the nose and nasal discharge indicate a grass seed is stuck around the snout.
- Mouth (including gums and tongue) – you’ll notice swelling and inflammation of the tongue, gums or tonsils.
- Lungs – this is the most extreme situation. If this is the case, your dog will have shortness of breath and is likely to be vomiting.
How to prevent grass seeds from getting attached to your dog
You’ll never be able to fully protect your pooch from grass seeds. Especially if you live in or go for walks in areas with lots of long grass. Having said that, we’ve rounded up our best precautionary tips to try and prevent them:
- Groom your dog as soon as you get in from a walk. It’s good practice to remove any grass or leaves from his or her coat.
- Double check the toes, ears and eyes when inspecting your dog. These areas are more susceptible to grass seeds.
- Trim the fur around your pooch’s paws. This way, you’ll find it easier to see anything that’s latched onto your dog.
- Inspect your own back garden. Check for any long grass and grass seeds in the warmer months. Prevention starts at home.
- Avoid areas with long grass in the summer. Better to be safe than sorry!
How to remove grass seeds
You should remove grass seeds as soon as you spot them – a pair of tweezers or your finger will do the trick. If ignored, they’re likely to be extremely irritating and can be forced into the skin.
When to contact a vet
If you can’t see any grass seeds, but your furry friend is showing any of the above signs, or is simply distressed, you need to talk to your vet as soon as you can. If you’re unable to remove a grass seed – like if it’s in the ear canal, or too deep in your dog’s skin – then your vet will help.