Grass seeds = Danger for dogs in Norwich

July 25, 2019

Are grass seeds dangerous for dogs?

The short answer is “yes, they can be”, but we’ve pulled together the information you need to know here at All Creatures Healthcare in Norwich. Then you can run out into the sun with your pups knowing exactly what to look out for if there’s a grass seed trying to ruin your day.

What are grass seeds and why are they a risk to dogs?

Grass seeds are green, about 1-2 cm, and are usually shaped like a dart with one end that’s able to penetrate your dog’s outer skin. The other end of the seed looks similar to normal grass and increases the seed’s surface area for travel via wind or animal.

The reason that grass seeds can be dangerous for dogs (or even cats), is that they can easily penetrate their outer skin in multiple areas. If left untreated this can be incredibly painful – in worst case scenarios the internal damage it may cause can even be fatal.

Certain breeds – often long-eared, such as Cockapoos, Cocker Spaniels, and Springer Spaniels – are the most commonly affected by grass seeds.

 What are the symptoms and consequences of grass seed penetration?

There are a few ways that a grass seed can impact your furry best friend. Depending on which area the grass seed penetrates, it can have different symptoms, but one symptom that is common across all areas of the body is redness and swelling; this can be a sign that a grass seed has broken the skin.

Here’s a handy chart of all possible symptoms by area:

 The symptoms and consequences of dogs affected by grass seeds
Affected area Symptoms The potential result
Coat None May move and break the skin elsewhere
Skin Chewing on skin of affected area

Redness and swelling

Visible grass seeds outside the skin

Abscesses or open-draining sores

Significant internal damage and infection

Surgical treatment may be necessary

Eyes Tears or discharge

Redness and swelling

Rubbing of the eye

Corneal ulcer

Loss of eyesight (one or both eyes)

Eye removal

Ears Head shaking

Head tilting

Redness

Scratching with paws or against surfaces

Ear infection

Hearing loss

A ruptured eardrum

Can cause metastasises (fatal)

Nose / Lungs Pawing at their nose

Sneezing

Nasal discharge

Breathing difficulties

Lung infection

Airway blockage

Pneumonia

Internal damage

Surgical treatment may be necessary

Mouth / Throat Coughing

Retching

Difficulty eating and drinking

Swollen or inflamed tonsils

Difficulty eating or drinking

Throat pain or serious internal damage

Surgical treatment may be necessary

Paws Excessive licking

Redness and swelling

Limping

Limping

Damage to joints, ligaments, or tendons

Surgical treatment may be necessary

Genitals Excessive licking

Redness and swelling

Difficulty/pain during urination

Blood in urine

Permanent damage (internally/externally)

Surgical treatment may be necessary

As you can see, there are a wide variety of symptoms and potential consequences of grass seeds, so it’s always better safe than sorry if you’d prefer a quick summer check-up with us 

What are the treatments for a grass seed infection?

If caught early, many grass seeds can be pulled from the skin by the seed’s tail, or with a long pair of tweezers called crocodile forceps. However, this is always best left to the experts. Then, in more serious cases, surgery may be needed.

In the case of surgery, anaesthesia or sedatives may be used so that your vet can search for the root of the problem without further discomfort to your dog. Depending on the location and seriousness of the damage, further treatment may be necessary, such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medicine.

How can I prevent my dog from the dangers of grass seeds?

Naturally, prevention is preferable to treatment, and there are a few different ways you can reduce the risk of grass seeds this summer:

  • Avoid areas with long grass – Walking in areas where the grass has been cut short reduces the risk of grass seeds – this includes your own garden.
  • Regular grooming and excessive hair trimming – Grooming your dog may catch any seeds before they can do harm, and occasionally trimming excessive hair around the paws, ears, and arm pits can prevent the seed from latching on in the first place.
  • Post-walk checks – Give their fur and body a thorough check after a walk to make sure there are no grass seeds present, and keep the symptoms mentioned above in mind – especially any areas of redness or swelling.

There’s no such thing as a silly reason to give us a call or even bring your dog in for a quick check-up if you’re concerned that they may have picked up a grass seed. The earlier grass seeds are caught, the less damage they can do. Plus, we always love seeing you and your beloved pets and are happy to help you put any worries to rest.

Book a summer check-up >