Caution the dreaded grass seed

F_No14_Grass-seedYes it’s that time of year. The grass seed season.

Yesterday we saw 2 dogs on the same day both with grass seed problems. One dog had two grass seeds that had worked their way into his ear canal, causing acute pain, and requiring sedation for removal. The other dog had numerous seeds tangled in her coat especially around the armpits and feet. We ended up removing about 50 seeds, most of which had worked their way into the skin and were beginning to burrow underneath.

So what is it with grass seeds that make them such a problem? It’s partly to do with their shape, like an arrowhead, with a sharp point. But also to do with the small barbs along the seed’s length that allow them to travel forward but not backward. As the dog moves through the long grass, seeds attach to the coat. As the animal moves, the seeds slowly work their way forwards, penetrating the skin and then burrowing subcutaneously at which time they are no longer visible. Often a weepy sore is the only clue of what is happening internally.

Seeds will travel under the skin for some distance and have been known to enter the chest and abdomen. But more commonly we find them in places where the fur coat is long, like the feet, armpits and inner thighs and occasionally also in the ears or the eyes. Needless to say they are very painful, lead to suppurating sores and are expensive to treat.

Prevention as always is best. Keep fur short in those danger areas. Carefully check your dog all over every night in case he has picked up a seed. And of course avoid walking in areas with long grass.

Angela Ford

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