Springtime means grass seed season, and for something so tiny, they can cause a lot of big problems for your pet! The issues they can cause range from minor discomfort right through to potentially life-threatening conditions.
When checking your pet for grass seeds, make sure to inspect their coat thoroughly – the hair can become matted if the seed has been there for a longer period. Be sure to remove the seed as soon as you see it (pick or cut it out of your pet’s fur), as it can easily become lodged in another area, causing bigger issues.
Grass seeds are naturally designed to travel – they are small, lightweight, come in all different shapes, and are spiky or sticky, meaning they can be easily picked up and caught in all kinds of uncomfortable places on animals – it can be tricky to know what to look for.
This is the most common place for grass seeds to cause problems. Once lodged in the skin between the toes, they can track deeply into the foot itself. This can create a ‘draining sinus’ – which is a small hole in the foot, which oozes discharge. Look for persistent licking at the feet/toes, limping, swelling and discharge.
Your pet’s eye can become irritated, red, painful and potentially swollen if there is a seed stuck here. This can lead to ulcers on the eyes, and potentially further problems. Look for discharge or rubbing of the eye area.
Grass seeds can easily be sucked into your pet’s nasal passages while they are sniffing around. If the seed makes it all the way to the lungs, it can cause serious infection. Look for persistent sneezing and nose bleeds.
They can lead to a ruptured eardrum and chronic ear infections. Look for a sudden head tilt, persistent head shaking or ear flicking, and red, inflamed ears which may be smelly and have discharge.
A lodged seed could easily be pushed through tissue and move to internal organs, causing a whole new suite of problems. Look for coughing, gagging/retching, pawing at the mouth, excessive salivation/drooling, reluctance to eat or drink, or your pet appearing generally unwell.
Unfortunately, grass seeds are an unavoidable part of having fun outside in the warmer months. Try to keep your pet away from longer grass (especially if you can see the seeds!) and make brushing a regular occurrence after a walk or time outside. Always check thoroughly between every toe after a walk in grass seed prone areas. They are definitely more prevalent in rural settings.
Keeping long hair on feet and paws trimmed short will help with preventing grass seeds being caught, and makes finding and removing them much easier.
If you cannot remove a grass seed from your pet’s coat (with your fingers, tweezers or scissors), give us a call to organise removal. If you find a seed lodged in their skin, mouth, eyes, ears, or another body part – please do not try to remove it yourself! You can inadvertently push the seed further into the tissue, making removal far more complicated as they can be very difficult to locate once they start to move through the body.