Grass Seed Stuck in Dogs

The abundant rain during the spring has produced a bumper crop of grass which is now starting to dry off. The seeds from many varieties, such as barley grass and wild oats, cause many problems to dogs and cats exercising where the grass is not regularly mowed.

How do you know if your dog has a grass seed

How do you know if your dog has a grass seed?

Dog’s paw

The most common site of attachment is in the dog paw. As the dog moves the seed is propelled forward into the space between the toes, where it can quickly penetrate the skin.

Unless the grass seed is removed quickly it soon disappears and produces a painful swelling which eventually discharges a purulent exudate through the small puncture wound in the skin. The dog constantly licks the paw and can become lame as the seed penetrates deeper into the tissues and the swelling increases.

Dog’s ear

Dogs with long pendulous ears are very likely to get grass seeds entering the ear canal. The seed lodges in the hair behind the ears and the swinging motion of the ears guides the seed into the ear canal. The dog reacts by vigorously shaking its head and holding the affected ear low to the ground.

Owners often try to locate the seed by shining a torch into the dog’s ear, but this is usually fruitless as the ear canal is quite long and tortuous, and it requires a special instrument to examine its many folds.

Attempts to float the seed out using olive oil are also doomed to fail as the dart-like construction of the seed and its many backward-pointing hairs make it impossible for the seed to travel in any direction except forwarding and deeper into the ear.

Veterinarians usually have to anesthetize the dog to search for a seed in the dog’s ear. A special long pair of forceps with alligator-like jaws is used to grasp the seed once it is located. The use of such a sharp-pointed instrument within the deep recesses of the ear can be hazardous in the unanesthetized animal.

Dog’s nose

Seeds commonly become lodged in the dog’s nose. The dog reacts by sneezing violently and shaking its head and often attempts to dislodge the seed by banging its nose on the ground. Bloodstained mucus is discharged from the affected nostril.

Dog’s eye

It is quite common for seeds to lodge in the eye of a dog or cat as they push their way through long grass. The animal minimizes the pain by keeping the eye tightly closed and it is often difficult to see the seed, as it may be hidden by the third eyelid or by the folds on the swollen conjunctiva.

Any suddenly developing painful eye condition should be investigated by a veterinarian, as the longer the seed is in contact with the eye the more damage can be done to the surface of the cornea.

How do I protect my dog from grass seed?

In the summer months, it is wise to keep the hair as short as possible between the dog’s toes and its belly and behind the ears. Clipping a long-haired dog completely in the summer makes it much more comfortable in the hot weather.

Avoid exercising the animal in areas where the grass is unmowed and check the dog’s paw, ears, and under the surface after each walk and remove any adherent seeds before they can penetrate the skin.

Consult your veterinarian if the dog or cat suddenly shakes its head vigorously or returns home with one eye tightly closed. Grass seeds lodged in the ear or eye must cause the animal acute pain.

Conclusion of removing grass seeds from a dog

Grass seeds are the bane of a dog owner’s existence. They get stuck in your dog’s paws, fur, and ears and are extremely difficult to remove. The best way to deal with them is through prevention.

If you have a lawn that’s prone to grass seed problems, try to avoid letting your dog run through it when he’s not wearing shoes. If your dog does get grass seeds stuck in his paws or fur, brush them out as soon as possible with a slicker brush before they can penetrate their skin. If the problem seems severe, take him to the vet for treatment.

If your dog has developed an ear infection from grass seeds, make sure you clean his ears regularly with otic cleanser and treat them with antibiotic ointment according to the instructions on the label. If this doesn’t solve the problem, take him to the vet immediately for treatment of this potentially serious condition.

Some less common places where grass seeds can lodge and cause painful abscesses are in the prepuce of the male dog, the vagina of the female dog, and the tissues within the mouth. Any suddenly developing swelling which quickly becomes abscessed should arouse suspicions of a grass-seed penetration.

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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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