The dangers of grass seeds
Every year at this time, many dogs will have to be treated by a vet due to a grass seed getting embedded in their skin, and dog owners are being urged to know the signs to spot, to prevent suffering, and costly treatments. Grass seeds can pierce your dog’s skin and even travel inside your dog, causing pain, discomfort, inflammation, infection and even lead to serious surgery and complications.
Dog lifestyle brand Bone Idol has put together a checklist, to help pet lovers protect their beloved dogs from this very real hazard.
Scott Learmouth, co-founder of Bone Idol, which is a Brighton-based lifestyle site and dog grooming training academy, said, “Many of us enjoy the variety that the seasons bring us and the adventures we have with our dogs. As we move though summer, we enjoy the warmer sun and wonderful walks.
“With this bounty of our door time we run the risk of grass seeds. We and the local vets see an increase in the number of dogs with grass seeds in the coats and, even worse, in the skin.
“With first hand experience, this can be a horrific experience for both dog and owner. So please think about where you walk and check when you brush and groom your dog.”
Check Your Dog From Nose to Tail
As a general rule, move front to back, checking each section in turn. Longer coat breeds and fluffy dogs are more prone to picking up grass seeds because of their fur. So be sure to part the hair on longer breeds on each area to thoroughly examine the skin and brush/comb well as you go.
Nose and Eyes
Always check around your dog’s nose and eyes as it’s easy for them to pick one up when sniffing the ground, even on the side of a path, or when running in long grass. Check both nostrils, the fur on the face and examine any folds of skin your dog may have. Gently open each eye and just check they are clear.
Lift the flap of your dog’s ear and look down into the ear checking the seed has not started to travel down the ear canal. Also check each ear front and back.
Breeds that have long ears that are especially fluffy will be more prone to picking the seeds up, part the fur and go through the dog’s ear fur with a brush and a comb.
Start at the top and work down checking inside the armpits and joints as more mobile areas cause grass seeds to migrate faster.
Lifting the dog’s foot back, look in between the pads, gently pulling the pad apart and checking if the seed is not in between or lodged in any ‘pockets’ of hair. Breeds with more fur are again more likely to pick up the seeds in the pads.
Between the toes
Gently part each toe on the top of your dog’s foot and check that seeds are not hidden in between. This is a very common entry point for a seed to enter the dog’s body as they are harder to spot.
As you might expect, breeds with more fur are again more likely to pick up the seeds in the pads.
The hygiene area
As your dog walks around, sniffing and exploring they naturally pass by long grasses, even in built up areas. Particularly when they go to the toilet, they can pick up seeds in this area of their body.
To check for seeds here, if your dog will let you, gently turn the dog on to its back and check the groin area and in between the back legs. Alternatively lift each back leg.
Where to walk your dog
When walking your dog, especially off lead, think about the environment and what’s there. For example woodland walks are generally cooler and tend not to have as many grass seeds. While meadows and open fields and spaces are more likely to have grass.
Farm fields could have crops growing could also pose a threat much like grass seeds, barley and wheat for example for similar seeds to foxtail grasses and are sharp and robust.
The beach is often a good choice, but please consider the heat, time of day and who else is using the beach.
What to do if you find grass seeds on your dog
If you find a grass seed that has pierced or entered your dog’s skin it is always best to get your vet to double check the point of entry to make sure the whole seed is out. Any remaining organic material of the seed and the entry point pose a risk of infection, abscesses or complications.
If you are concerned about removing a grass seed or that not all of the seed has come out, always consult your vet.
If your dog groomer finds a grass seed they should always tell you, show you the entry point and advise on your next course of action.
This is a guest post by Bone Idol.