Grass Seeds : Danger hidden in plain sight!

Truely a foe to our Dogs – grass seeds can cause a wealth of health issues!!

Grass Seed and Foxtail season can be across several weeks and months – there are a lot less new grass seeds growing but there are still plenty of dried grass seeds on the ground and in the grass ready to stick to fur as a dog passes by, or to cling to the fur inside an ear! It’s still possible for grass seeds to pierce the delicate skin between dogs’ toes and enter the foot, hidden by the fur, which often leads to abcesses and dogs licking paws.

In fact grass seeds can enter our dogs’ bodies almost anywhere and it could make you cringe to hear where they have pushed themselves in before!!

Check with your vet if you spot a sore on your dog’s paw, if they are shaking their head a lot or appear to be licking an area of the body a lot as a grass seed could be the culprit!! While waiting for a vet’s appointment you can help by soaking sore paws in Epsom salts and warm water – a handful of Epsom salts in a tub of warm water – not hot – and soak for a good 10-20 mins. It not only soothes but can help draw a grass seed out too. This isn’t to replace vets help but if you can’t get an appointment until the next day you can use an Epsom salt soak to help.

Anywhere grass can grow they can be found – not just in large fields of long grass. I do hear “but my dog doesn’t like long grass so won’t get them” – these grass seeds on the graphic are from a dog walk a couple of years ago with my own dogs around my block! No fields, just concrete and some grass verges with trees and the grass seeds were growing in little clumps on grass and around tree bases.

They tend to get caught in fur, especially longer fur, and they are most dangerous with fur around the face, ears and paws as the seeds get stuck, then can pierce the paw or get into the ear canal, nostril or eye and work their way in but the barbs make it hard to get them out or the ends break off leaving a small part inside.

These can then cause discomfort for your dog and cause then to itch, nibble, lick the area or sneeze if it’s the nose. Not only this but can become infected, and even move further into the body which can require surgery!

So, keep up with your grooming including:
✅ Trimming fur around paws and between pads
✅ Checking dogs ears and ear fur
✅ Comb your dogs nose fur / moustache regularly if your dog is a bit fluffy
✅ Comb / brush your dogs after a walk or check their paws, legs and faces

Previously I’ve known dogs who have needed the vets for a grass seed in the eye, another dog in the ear and many dogs with them in their paws. All are ok now. Ripley had one caught in her moustache previous narrowly missing her nose!

Check your dogs body after being outside on or in grass. In fact you can work on this as an exercise that your dog can start enjoying rather then trying to avoid, resist or make difficult! Don’t wait for them to show signs of discomfort – start checking them as routine!

Some types of training exercises, including Tricks, can be really handy towards teaching dogs to be checked for grass seeds such as:

* Give paw to check paws and toes,
* Chin target to check the beard, face and neck,
* Playbow to check the tail and bum area,
* Roll over to check the stomach and genital area (yes they get in here too!)

If you need any help with the grooming side of things we do have some help on grooming and paws here:

General grooming and paws:

If you have a dog with long dropped ears you may find they get grass seeds and other nature in their ears a lot – using a ‘snood’ can help prevent this especially if you are going somewhere with longer or thicker grass. A snood looks like a headscarf that goes around the head and covers the ears and are also useful to prevent your dog getting their food in their ear fur too!

There is also an oil for dogs (literally called Oil 4 Dogs!) that doesn’t contain any nasties but is designed to put all over the body before a walk and prevents anything sticking to coat or furnishing etc. So grass seeds as well as mud, twigs etc!! I’ve not used it myself but have seen some very happy reviews from people who have!!

Pet Tricks Day is running 30th September annually and promises fun for dogs and owners as well as Tricks useful for daily life too, including Tricks to help with cooperative care and grooming!