Laura Pugh BVM&S CertAVP MRCVS

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Grass seed injuries and your puppy

Laura Pugh BVM&S CertAVP MRCVS
Reading time: 2 minutes

For such tiny objects, grass seeds can cause a lot of trouble, especially in the summer months.

Puppies can often get them lodged in their ear canals or between their toes when romping outside or on a walk, and they can cause a lot of pain and irritation.

It’s hard to dodge the problem entirely as puppies love being outdoors and need regular exercise, but some grasses are particularly worth avoiding.

Foxtails, for example, are grasses with razor-sharp seeds that resemble little torpedoes in the shape of a fox’s tail. A common foxtail grass problematic to puppies is wild barley – the dry grass seeds all too easily attach themselves to an animal’s fur, then work their way down to pierce the skin or enter the ear canal.

Signs of a seed

The telltale warning signs to watch for are head shaking and paw licking, especially shortly after a walk. If your puppy is pawing at his head and ears, he might have a grass seed lodged in his ear canal. Sometimes puppies will also hold their heads to the side in an attempt to shake it out.

You won’t be able to spot the seed as it will be trapped deep inside, but a vet can make a diagnosis by using an otoscope to look down the ear canal and remove the seed with forceps if necessary.

If your dog starts licking his paw to ease itching and has a very small, suspicious-looking sore between his toes, consult your vet for advice as soon as possible. After removal of the seed, often under anesthetic, the dog is usually treated with painkillers and antibiotics to counter any infection.

Top prevention tips

If you have a breed that has hairy ears and feet e.g. Cockapoo, Cocker, Springer Spaniel, they are at particular risk from grass seed. You can take preventative action by avoiding long-grassed areas and keeping the fur around your puppy’s ears and feet trimmed short during summertime.

Whatever the breed, it’s always a good idea to check your puppy all over for any lurking grass seeds after every walk as they can become stuck in a number of places, including eyelids and lip folds as well as the paws and ears.

Laura Pugh BVM&S CertAVP MRCVS

Laura grew up in Reading and qualified from Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 2009. She has worked with all sorts of animals big and small in Reading, Dover and Nottingham and is now working with pets in Derby at White Cross Vets. She has a particular interest in exotic pets and has a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Medicine with a bias to exotic pets and also performs veterinary acupuncture.

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