Whether your dog loves zooming through fields or gently rambling around the countryside, it’s important to be wary of grass seeds.
Expert vet Dr Lily Richards shares her top tips on how to spot stuck grass seeds and what treatment options are available for your canine.
Grass seeds are small, dart-shaped, and sit on long stems. Their tiny size makes them seem harmless but they can actually cause a lot of problems for your dog, especially in summer.
Grass seeds can be very uncomfortable and painful for your pup. Their sharp tips bury themselves in your dog’s fur and pierce the skin, leading to inflammation, infection, and abscesses.
In more serious cases they can even end up travelling deeper into the body to areas like the spine and chest.
Any dog is at risk of grass seeds, especially if they are hairy and spend a lot of time in grassy areas.
Spaniels (such as Cockers and Springers) are particularly known for having problems with these seeds due to their long and floppy ears and hairy toes!
Grass seeds often lodge themselves in the paws, eyes, nose, and ears. Given that most dogs love being outdoors and running in the grass, it’s difficult to completely avoid the plants.
Seeds can be inhaled as well as caught in the fur. It’s important to check for them as soon as possible and contact your vet if you notice something.
Here’s some tell-tale signs that a grass seed has lodged itself in different areas of your dog’s body.
If a grass seed is stuck in between your dog’s toes, you may notice:
A grass seed that stays stuck in your dog’s paw causes inflammation and infection. This eventually lead to lameness associated with pain.
Get your dog to a vet immediately if you think a seed is caught in their eye.
Grass seeds can cause injury by scratching the surface of the eye. They can also get stuck under the eyelids which causes damage over time and lead to deeper injuries and ulcers. If not treated swiftly, this could lead to sight loss or irreparable damage to the eye in worst-case scenarios.
Should a grass seed find its way into your dog’s ear, you may not notice any immediate signs of discharge.
But after a few days you’ll see:
Discharge in the ear is a sign that the seed has damaged the inner skin of the ear. This gives bacteria the chance to invade and create an infection. Leaving this untreated could lead to eardrum damage and progress to a deeper, middle ear infection. This is a more serious condition and makes pups feel really unwell.
Your pup will seem generally unwell and lethargic with a high temperature. They could also have wounds that don’t go away.
Removing grass seeds is usually straightforward but does need a vet’s help. Your dog may need to be sedated to allow the seed to be safely taken out.
Your vet may:
Your pooch may also need antibiotics to help stop or get rid of any infection.
There may be a few things you can do at home for a sore paw to help ease your dog’s discomfort. This is while you’re waiting to see a vet and shouldn’t replace professional treatment:
Treatment costs for grass seeds can vary but will go up if scans and surgery are needed. To give you an idea, the average Petsure claim amount* for a grass seed foreign body is £551.
Some ways you can help lower the risk of your dog getting poorly from grass seeds include:
Feel confident that your dog can be their adventurous selves with dog insurance from Petsure.
*Information taken from Petsure average claim payment data and correct as of 16 August 2023