Grass Seed Season
Spring is nearing a close and summer is on its way; we are now spending more and more time outside with our furry family members, going to the beach, running through parks and playing in the long grass. This also happens to be the season where grass seeds run rampant.
You would think that a mere grass seed couldn’t do much harm to your pet but this is far from the truth. Grass seeds, shaped like small arrowheads, get themselves caught in pet’s fur and work their way through their skin. At best, they cause irritation and infection, and may be coaxed out with some antibiotics and pain relief. More regularly they cause pain, swelling, infection and require a surgical procedure for removal.
The most common areas we find grass seeds are in between the toes, around the eyes or ears and in the coat/skin. When a pet has a grass seed lodged, you may see redness, swelling and possibly pus in that area. You are also likely to see a change in behaviour (eg limping, sensitivity to the area).
Toes and feet —> Swelling on foot, limping, weepy hole, excessive licking/chewing
Ears —> Head shaking/scratching, painful to touch ear, yelping
Eyes —> Rubbing eye/squinting, swollen eye with or without discharge
Fur —> Matting
Nose —> Sneezing, nasal discharge, pawing at nose, difficulty breathing
This depends on where the grass seed is and how deep it is. If you can see the seed at home, careful removal with tweezers maybe successful. Otherwise veterinary intervention will be needed.
Some grass seeds can be removed from compliant pets during consultation, but most will need a general anaesthetic to probe for the seed. This is especially true if the area is painful. If no seed is found with probing but is highly suspected, surgical exploration may be needed. Seeds that travel a long distance, e.g. into abdominal organs or into the spine may need specialist attention using a CT scan or ultrasound.
Generally, the outcome is very good. Most patients will require anti-inflammatory/pain relief and antibiotic treatment and will resolve within a week without further complications. Often, an E-collar will be needed to prevent your pet causing more trauma to themselves by licking and delaying wound healing. If surgery is not undertaken where recommended and a grass seed is not removed, infection may remain and seeds can travel to other areas of the body and cause more severe complications.
· Avoid long grasses on walks
· Ensure regular grooming of long-haired dogs especially around the feet and face
· Maintain grasses and weeds at home regularly
· Check over your dog after each outing—>pay special attention to the toes and ears!
Please contact your local veterinarian if you suspect your pet has a grass seed lodged somewhere. The earlier, the better before further complications arise!