Grass seeds – A hazard of Summer
The Summer season is upon us, and with it comes the Foxtail grass seed.
From around May onwards, our Vets start seeing animals with suspected grass seed injuries, and then they just keep coming. We usually see at least one a day throughout the Summer months.
The Foxtail is an Arrow like grass seed, and is extremely hazardous to animals, particularly long haired Dogs such as Spaniels.
The seeds become caught in the animals fur and then pierce and burrow into the skin.
They are most commonly found in ears and the feet, between the toes; but can get stuck up the nose, under the eyelids, between the teeth, in genitals, or just under the fur.
When they penetrate the skin they can cause pain, swelling, irritation, abscesses, and infection.
If your Dog is shaking his head, or has become suddenly lame or is chewing his paws, it could mean that a Foxtail grass seed has burrowed its way under his skin.
With a paw injury you may see a red swollen area like a boil, where the skin has reacted and become inflamed. You may also see a hole where the Foxtail pierced through the skin.
Unfortunately these seeds can cause a lot of damage. The animals often need to undergo a sedation or full anaesthetic for the seed to be removed, as the area is often too painful to explore or the seed has burrowed so deeply that the removal is surgical and the whole area has to be opened up and explored or flushed for full removal.
Often a grass seed leaves an infection behind, which if untreated could be life threatening.
Prevention is better than a cure!
Try to walk your Dog in areas where these particular grasses do not grow.
Check your Dogs’ fur thoroughly after every walk, especially the feet.
Spaniel type breeds with feathered feet are the most common breed that pick up the Foxtails’ in their feet and the fur should be kept trimmed short to try and avoid this.
Cats can suffer with grass seed injuries too. Check your Cats daily.
If you suspect your Pet has a grass seed stuck somewhere it is advisable to phone us as soon as you can to arrange an appointment. Some grass seeds may even be removable during a consultation appointment, depending on where they are.
Take care out there and Enjoy the Summer.