You may not think it but grass seeds can cause a lot of trouble in our pets, especially in the summer months and even more so when we have experienced a drier weather period.

Dogs often get them lodged in their ear canals or between their toes when running outside on a walk. These then cause a lot of pain and irritation.

It’s hard to avoid the problem entirely as dogs love being outdoors and do need regular exercise, but some grasses are particularly worth avoiding. Foxtails, for example, are grasses with razor-sharp seeds that resemble the shape of a fox’s tail. A common foxtail grass problematic to dogs is wild barley – the dry grass seeds all too easily attach themselves to an animal’s fur, then work their way down to pierce the skin or enter the ear canal. 

What are you looking for to suspect a rogue seed?

The warning signs to watch for are head shaking and paw licking, especially not long after a walk. Sometimes dogs will also hold their heads to the side or paw at their ears. You won’t be able to spot the seed as it will be trapped deep inside, but a vet can make a diagnosis by using an otoscope to look down the ear canal and remove the seed with forceps if possible. Sedation is sometimes requiring due to the pain of the seed becoming lodged into the skin down there.

Due to their pendulous ears, Spaniels and spaniel-crosses are the most commonly affected breeds.

It’s a good idea to check your dog all over for any lurking grass seeds after every walk as they can become stuck in a number of places, we’ve even seen them in eyelids as well as the paws and ears. If you have any concerns your pet is experiencing any of the signs mentioned, consult us for advice as soon as possible.

All breeds with hairy ears and feet are at particular risk from grass seed, but you could take preventative action by avoiding long-grassed areas and keeping the fur around your dog’s ears and feet – which can trap the grass seeds – trimmed short during summertime.

Check out these pieces of grass which were removed endoscopically by one of our vets. We found them hiding above the soft palette in a very excitable Pointer. She felt much better once they were retrieved…..

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