This summer is proving to be a particularly bad year for grass seed penetration in dogs. Long haired, active dogs are most commonly affected but all dogs exposed to long grass are susceptible. Grass seeds are small with a pointed end making them the ideal shape to penetrate a dog’s skin. Once the seed is under the skin, it can migrate around the body tracking infection along the way. Grass seeds can also enter through the eyes, ears, mouth and nose. Affected dogs often need a sedative or general anesthetic to surgically find and remove the offending seed.
Signs a grass seed may be present
Dogs react differently depending upon the number, location and shape of the offending seeds. Their discomfort will usually let you know something is wrong. A seed lodged in the ear canal may cause a dog to shake its head and continuously scratch at or drag its ear along the ground. It may also hold its head at an angle. Seeds in the eye often become caught behind the third eyelid causing irritation, redness, weeping and swelling of the eye itself.
Frequent sneezing, a nasal discharge and pawing at the nose may indicate that a seed is caught in a dog’s nasal cavities. These seeds can be difficult to remove due to the narrow width of the nostrils and a tendency to bleed when probed. Seeds migrating into the skin are often found between the toes, under the armpits or groin, along the flanks or under the belly. Dogs may continually lick and chew at swollen or discharging areas. If the feet are affected the animal may become lame.
Protect your dog from grass seeds
During summer and autumn when the dry grass is setting seed, check your dog’s coat thoroughly a couple of times a week and remove any seeds. Check between your dog’s toes and in the thick hair on its underside. Ideally, long or thick coated farm dogs should have their fur clipped prior to the grass seed season, especially focusing on the feet, toes and underside. If you are unable to clip your dog, bring them to The Vet Group grooming where they can be clipped, under sedation if necessary.
If you notice your dog chewing or licking at a discharging lump anywhere on the body it is recommended you make an appointment at the clinic to have it checked over as soon as possible.