Every year as the weather warms up and the spring rain and sunshine accelerates grass growth I see many dogs and cats presenting every day at my clinic with grass seeds in their ears, nostrils, eyes, and between their toes…
Grass seeds may be relatively tiny but, depending where they get lodged, they can cause serious problems for your pet. If not removed, grass seeds can lead to ear infections, abscesses, ruptured eardrums or a condition called aural haematoma – a blood clot in the ear that causes swelling, in the eyes they can cause significant damage to the cornea, and they can cause foot pain and infections.
How to spot grass seeds causing issues
Signs that your pet may have picked up a grass seed somewhere undesirable include localised hair matting, irritation or swelling, head shaking, excessive scratching or rubbing, discharge from the eyes or nose, excessive sneezing, limping if a seed has become lodged in the nose or excessive licking action if one has become lodged in your pet’s mouth.
Treatment and removing grass seeds
Removing grass seeds and treating the affected areas can be extremely tricky and in some cases, a trip to the vet is unavoidable. Grass seeds can cause significant damage to the cornea if left untreated so if you suspect your pet has a seed in the eye you need to get them to your vet as soon as possible. Likewise, if your pet has developed an abscess they might require an anaesthetic in order for your vet can locate and remove the grass seed at the root of the problem.
If you suspect your dog has a grass seed in the ear, and you cant get to a vet, you can try filling your pet’s ear with warm olive oil and gently massaging the ear. If you are lucky, the grass seed will float to the surface of the oil and you can remove it, but if not, the oil will generally soften the seed so it causes less pain, buying you some time to get to your vet.
Magnoplasm paste (which you can buy from your local chemist) is a drawing ointment that can help draw out grass seeds that have become lodged in your pet’s paws.
Like many pet-related issues, prevention is simpler than the cure. Where possible, avoid allowing your pet to roam in areas with long grass and, If you live in an area where grass growth is prolific, consider having your dog’s feet and ears clipped or shaved so it’s harder for seeds to become caught in their hair.
Check long-haired pets thoroughly for grass seeds and groom them regularly to remove stray seeds from their fur. Pay particular attention to their ears, nose, and between their toes. You can also try doggy boots that protect your pet’s feet, and tying pantyhose around your dog’s head to protect the ears when they’re out walking.
Dr Bruce Syme BVSc (Hons), Founder of Vets All Natural.
Dr Bruce Syme is a practicing vet and expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio.
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Dr. Bruce Syme, unless otherwise noted. The information is not intended as medical advice, it simply shares the knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Bruce and his community. Pet health care decisions should be based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified pet health care professional.
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