Grass seeds may seem very small and harmless but they (perhaps surprisingly) account for a huge number of vet consultations throughout the summer months in particular. These pesky seeds can lodge themselves almost anywhere in the body often causing severe pain and infection. The most common places for grass seeds to penetrate your pet’s body are: the paws, ears and eyes (but also the nose, genitals, mouth the chest and anywhere in the skin) and it is important to know the signs and methods to try and prevent them.
The signs/symptoms depend on where the grass seed has lodged.
What to look out for:
- Excessive licking of one paw
- Oozing or discharge, sometimes from a small hole in the skin
- Pain +/- limping
- Sudden onset head shaking or scratching
- Sudden onset squinting (or holding it completely shut) and pain
- Discharge from the eye
- Redness of the whites of the eye
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog make sure to seek prompt medical attention. If grass seeds are not removed very promptly then they can cause local damage such as ulcers in the eye, eardrum rupture and infection. They can also migrate underneath the skin, sometimes making them extremely difficult to find and remove.
How to help prevent grass seeds in your pet:
- Make sure to thoroughly check your pet for grass seeds after a walk in grass – if you find any within the fur make sure to promptly remove them. In particular, make sure to check the paws and ears.
- Keep your pet’s fur clipped short especially around the paws to reduce the risk of grass seeds lodging in the fur
- Consider avoiding walks through long grass in the summer months, especially if your pet has had grass seeds in the past.
- Keep any lawns your pet can access cut short
Treatment of grass seeds depends on a few factors such as the location of the grass seed, whether the vet can visualise the seed and how sensitive the area is. It may be possible for the vet to remove the grass seed conscious with a specialised set of forceps, however, many pets will require sedation for the attempt of removal. If a grass seed cannot be found but is thought to be the cause of infection, then your pet may require surgery (or sometimes even an advanced body scan).
Should you have any concerns or require a consultation, our Vet on Demand service is available to support you wherever you and your dog might be this summer.