Grass seed season is upon us!

As I was walking my two dogs around the racecourse today I noted the rapidly drying grass seeds on the long grass and I knew it wouldn’t be long before the first dog arrived with a swollen foot or sore ear. Every Summer, hundreds of dogs are bothered by these innocuous looking things but their fine tips and feathered ends seem to make them perfectly designed to puncture the skin or disappear down ears. Occasionally they can even be snorted up a sniffing nostril or more rarely inhaled into an airway.

The dogs that are most bothered are certainly the longer haired breeds, the Spaniels being the most commonly afflicted. Their long fur between their toes or shaggy ears seem to catch up the seeds with monotonous regularity. The classic scenario is a soft painful swelling between the toes – which is an abscess around a grass seed. Or the head held painfully on one side because one or more grass seeds have disappeared down an ear canal. Ultimately both situations result in minor veterinary procedures to either lance the abscess and remove the offending seed or delicately remove them from the lower ear canal before they damage the ear drum.

What can you do?

There are some simple things that pet owners can do though to reduce the risk of grass seeds and vet visits. If you have a long haired dog keeping their fur short in Summer especially their feet or ear areas can make a big difference. Avoiding fields and areas where the grass seeds are particularly prevalent is not a bad idea and simply being diligent after walks to check toes and fur for seeds and look out for the signs of a problem. The dog that is suddenly bothering it’s ear, chewing it’s foot or repeatedly sneezing is a sign that shouldn’t be ignored. With a bit of luck in a few months they’ll all be gone!

Article written by Oliver Wilkinson, Vet at Charlton Kings Vets, Cheltenham.