Grass seeds, are, perhaps surprisingly, a frequent cause of emergency admissions to many veterinary hospitals and clinics in spring and summer.
Also known as grass awns, these backward-pointing barbs typically fall off long, wild grass, barley and rye, and embed themselves in a dog’s paws, ears, armpits, tail, or skin, sometimes causing painful wounds and infections. In rare cases, grass awns have also been known to burrow under the skin and travel to other parts of the body. All dogs can be affected, but the most susceptible are those with feathery toes who enjoy running through long grass, such as springer spaniels.
Signs that your dog has an irritating grass seed include:
- Head shaking (seed in ear)
- Swollen red eye or excessive tear production (seed in eye)
- Limping or holding a leg up (seed in or between the toes)
- Repeated sneezing or bloody discharge from nostril (seed in nose)
- Red lump with blood and pus (seed under the skin)
- Difficulty urinating (seed in genitals)
If you are concerned that your dog may have picked up a grass awn, your first port of call should be your local vet.
Preventative measures include avoiding long grass in the warmer months, keeping your own lawn tidy and checking your dog thoroughly after a walk by running your fingers through their fur and checking inside the ears, in between the toes, and in the mouth and eyes. You should also try to ensure your dog is well-groomed, especially around the ears and feet.
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