It’s not widely known, but grass seeds create one of the most common issues that pets, particularly dogs, are confronted with during the summer months. The tiny grass seeds easily penetrate the animal’s skin and somehow burrow into the dog’s body. There are usually very few symptoms to show how your dog has been affected, other than whining, biting or skin irritation. As grass seeds are vegetable matter, they further complicate the problem as they do not show up on X-rays leaving it very challenging for your Vet to discover the extent of the problem, and to prescribe treatment when necessary.
How can grass seeds affect your pet?
The shape of the grass seeds, with arrow-type fibres and pointed heads make them the perfect shape to adhere to the animal’s fur, while the awn of the seed prevents them from being removed in a reverse action. These aggravating grass seeds may become lodged anywhere on your dog, from the pads on their feet, to ears and eyes, not to mention them moving around internally if swallowed or inhaled. They can result in an infection causing painful swelling or inflammation, with the chance an abscess could develop.
Preventing problems caused by grass seeds
Contact with grass seeds is rather difficult to prevent, but you can take some precautions. Avoid walking your dog through long grass where possible, sticking to locations with cut grass, including keeping your lawn at home quite short too. Keep your pet’s hair trimmed and groomed, paying attention to areas around the under front legs, ears and paws. Try to inspect your dog for grass seed contagion after your daily walks, paying attention to your dog’s behaviour. If you spot him scratching or chewing at his skin, there is a chance he has a grass seed embedded.
Symptoms to look out for:
Skin – Your dog will probably attempt to dislodge the grass seed by chewing or licking at the entry site, where the skin may bleed, have pus or appear swollen. Surgery may be the only way to remove the awn of the seed from the skin.
Feet – Look out for signs of the dog chewing the affected area of the foot, or he may limp and try not to walk on it. There may be symptoms of redness and swelling.
Nose – If a seed gets stuck inside the dog’s nose there may be a nasal, bloody discharge, with your canine continually rubbing his nose and sneezing. A seed has the potential to move into the lungs or damage the airways, with capacity of being life threatening.
Eyes – The eyes will appear watery, red, inflamed and swollen while your dog will rub at the eyes due to the irritation. Ongoing problems may result in ulcers or even blindness, if a seed enters the eye area.
Ears – Look out for your dog holding his head tilted to the side, shaking his head, rubbing on the floor or scratching his ears. Infections can take hold inside the ear drum, causing loss of balance, deafness or ruptured ear drum, all with potentially tragic consequences.
Lungs and stomach – Your dog may swallow grass seeds if he eats food from the ground contaminated with seeds, or even when walking or running through dry grass. A seed can be swallowed and may cause no problems at all, but there is a possibility of one being stuck in the dog’s throat, causing swelling and inflammation. Look out for coughing, vomiting and reluctance to eat.
If you think your dog has been irritated by a grass seed, take him to your Vet’s surgery. It may be possible for the seed to be extracted without causing too much distress, and without the use of sedatives or anaesthesia. Anti-inflammatories or antibiotics may be prescribed. The sooner the grass seed problem is spotted, the quicker it can be dealt with.
Here at Finchley Dog Walker if we notice any grass seeds on our walks we will take the best possible action which could involve a visit to the vet
We are not Vets and this info is not intended, in any way, to take the place of the advice from your Vet. If you have concerns please contact your vet or Vetfone
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