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  • Writer's pictureBear & Kind

Grass Seeds and Your Dog: Ways to Reduce Your Dog's Exposure and How to Remove Them Safely

A fellow dog parent said it best: grass seeds are the devil. It’s true. They look small and innocent enough, but they are nasty, sneaky little buggers that can cause a lot of issues when they burrow their way into the skin, between toes, eyes and my worst nightmare, the ears. If swallowed they can also cause damage to the throat and digestive tract, and don’t get me started about what they can do when inhaled and stuck in the nasal cavity. Dog parents everywhere beware… grass seed season is definitely upon us.

Why are Grass Seeds Dangerous to Dogs?

Grass seeds can be dangerous for dogs for several reasons:

Ingestion of grass seeds can occur while your dog is sniffing, licking, or chewing on grass. If the seeds are swallowed, they can potentially cause problems in the digestive tract. They can also be inhaled and become lodged in the nasal cavity.

Pointed or barbed ends make grass seeds particularly nasty. These barbs can attach themselves to your dog's fur, skin, or mucous membranes, causing irritation or injury, and make them difficult to remove safely.

Migration inside the body is a common issue with grass seeds once they are swallowed or imbedded in the skin. This migration can lead to more severe issues, such as infection or injury to internal organs, joints, or even the eyes.

Infection from bacteria or simply the presence of the grass seed itself inside the body is a common health issue. These infections can manifest in different ways, including skin abscesses, ear infections, or respiratory problems. Even just a tiny fragment left behind can cause recurring infection.

Pain and discomfort are common even if a grass seed doesn't cause a serious health issue. The presence of a grass seed in your dog's nose, ears, eyes, or between the toes can be extremely painful and drive them absolutely nuts.

How Can I Avoid Grass Seeds on My Dog?

Preventing grass seeds from getting into your dog's skin and coat can be challenging, but there are some things you can do to minimize the risk:

Avoid areas with tall, dry grass where grass seeds are more prevalent. Try to avoid walking your dog in such areas during the grass seed season, typically in late spring and summer.

Consider protective clothing, such as dog boots or socks, to cover your dog's paws and legs while walking through grassy areas. This can help prevent seeds from attaching to their fur and skin as well as reducing contact allergies.

Check your dog after walks, especially in grassy or overgrown areas, thoroughly check your dog's coat, especially focusing on areas like paws, ears, eyes and under the tail.

Use a leash during walks and always supervise their time outdoors. This allows you to control where they go and minimize the chances of them running through tall grasses.

Keep grass short at home and remove any overgrown or dry grasses to reduce the presence of grass seeds. Always make sure your dog has a bed to lay on as an alternative to laying on the grass if grass seeds are present and consider limiting yard time if necessary.

Regular grooming, including brushing and trimming your dog's fur, can help reduce the chances of grass seeds getting caught in the coat. It’s a good idea during grass seed season to step up your grooming routine to help you find grass seeds hiding in the coat before they burrow into the skin. If your dog has a long coat keep feathering short and trim fur between the toes as short as possible.

Check the ear canal regularly if you have floppy-eared dogs and keep the hair around the ear canal as short as possible. If you think your dog has a grass seed in the ear canal and you cannot see it or reach it safely DO NOT attempt to flush the canal with liquid of any kind. This will often push the seed further down the ear canal and can damage the ear drum. Contact your vet immediately.

Consider allergy testing if your dog has ongoing issues with grass seeds and skin irritation. Consult your vet to discuss allergy testing and potential treatment options.

Talk to your vet if you live in an area with a high risk of grass seeds or if your dog has a history of problems with them.

By taking these precautions and being proactive, you can significantly reduce the risk of grass seeds getting into your dog's skin and causing discomfort or health issues. Remember that early detection and preventive measures are key to keeping your dog safe and healthy.

How Do I Remove a Grass Seed From my Dog?

If you find a grass seed on your dog, safely removing it from the fur, skin, or other areas of the body requires care and attention to prevent injury or infection. Here are the steps to safely remove a grass seed from your dog:

1. Get Organised

Before you begin, grab a pair of tweezers, a clean towel, antiseptic solution such as Betadine or some warm salt water, and if you have them, a pair of gloves. Find a well-lit area to work in, ideally with natural daylight or good lighting, so you can see what you're doing.

2. Calm Your Dog

It's important to keep your dog calm during the process. Some treats or a lick mat can be a helpful distraction. If your dog is anxious, consider asking someone to help or contacting a groomer or your vet.

3. Examine the Area

Carefully examine the affected area where the grass seed is located. Look for signs of broken skin, swelling, discharge, or irritation. Gently part the fur to expose the seed.

4. Remove the Grass Seed

With clean, sterilized tweezers, grasp the grass seed as close to the point of entry as possible. Be very gentle to avoid pushing the seed further in or causing injury. Apply a slow, steady pull in the direction the seed entered. It's crucial to remove the seed entirely, as leaving any part behind can lead to infection or complications. If the seed is deeply embedded, or if you're unsure how to safely remove it, it's best to consult your vet.

5. Clean and Monitor

After successfully removing the grass seed, clean the area with Betadine or salt water to prevent infection. Be gentle during this step, as the area may be sensitive. Keep an eye on the area for a few days. If you notice any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, discharge, or if your dog continues to exhibit discomfort or simply doesn’t seem like himself, consult your vet.

If you are uncomfortable or uncertain about removing the grass seed on your own, or if the seed is in a sensitive area, it's always a good idea to consult with a groomer or your vet who can safely and effectively remove the seed.

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