These nasty little barbs can cause pain, swelling, infection and frustration for you and your dog. Nature has designed these little arrows to stay put, and that usually means in your pet!!
Common areas for seeds to penetrate skin are:
Paws and between toes
Under tails, armpit and groins
Ears, eyes and nose
Vulva and penis
The shape of grass seeds enable them to migrate through tissues. Occasionally this migration can be deadly with seeds ending up in the brain, eyes, chest or abdominal organs. In the ears, seeds often penetrate the ear drum and end up in the middle ear, causing a significant infection and sometimes permanent damage to the dogs hearing.
Wherever they go they cause a foreign body reaction and infection. Once in the body, grass seeds do not break down and for healing to occur, they must be removed, either through the rupture and discharge of an abscess that forms around them or by physically finding and removing them.
Dogs with long coats, hairy feet of floppy ears are at most risk from grass seed penetration. The best possible defense against grass seeds is to keep your dog out of seedy areas. This might mean confining them to a well mowed run or paved area while seeds are present. You should also keep long haired dogs trimmed or clipped close to the body, especially around ears and between the toes. Many dogs object to their feet being clipped so sedation may be required to do a good job.
It is also good practice to perform a daily palpation of the entire body of the dog, especially after a walk, looking for any seeds that have become trapped in the coat and removing them before they have a chance to penetrate the skin.
Once you notice the grass starting to dry, be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
Seeds in ears
Seeds in eyes
Seeds in paws
Seeds in the nose
Seeds in the skin
If you think your dog is suffering from a grass seed penetration, please seek veterinary care immediately, particularly for seeds in the eyes and ears. All seeds will require removal, sometimes surgically, and the earlier the issue is identified, the less invasive the procedure will be. Antibiotics and bandaging may also be required to address the infection and prevent the dog causing further damage to the area.