Grass seeds probably don't sound like something either you or your dog should be worried about, but they can actually pose a real health risk to canines, putting them in danger of anything from minor irritation to severe internal problems. Here's a quick overview of everything you need to know about how grass seeds can harm your dog.
How Are Grass Seeds Dangerous?
Seeds seem pretty innocuous, and they usually are. However, different types of grasses, particularly those that grow very high, have seeds with long tapered ends and sharp points that allow them to stick into a dog's fur, and even into its skin. Essentially, they are like tiny little darts. That's good for the grass since hitching a ride on an animal means the seed will be spread further, but it's bad news for your dog.
How Can Grass Seeds Harm Your Dog?
Grass seeds are so sharp that they can often penetrate a dog's skin. Probably the most common place where they get stuck is the foot. Grass seeds can very easily work their way into the space between your dog's toes. The skin there is thin, and it isn't rare to see a grass seed that has worked its way through the entire foot. Another common problem area is the ears; this tends to be more serious since seeds can work their way down the ear canal until they come into contact with the ear drum.
While these are the most common problem areas, it's possible for grass seeds to penetrate any area. When a grass seed penetrates the skin, it can start to burrow inwards if you don't remove it straight away, and that can mean getting all the way to a vital part of your dog's body. Seeds can get into areas near the spine or into the lungs; they can also cause serious internal abscesses, resulting in problems from vomiting and weakness to difficulty breathing.
How Can You Prevent Grass Seeds Hurting Your Dog?
Grass seeds can be difficult to spot; even vets can have problems since seeds won't show up on an x-ray. As such, prevention is incredibly important.
The best thing you can do is keep your dog's hair well-trimmed. Taking them for regular dog groomings will help prevent seeds getting caught up in long, matted hair, and you'll also find it a lot easier to spot any that do get caught. Most breeds grow excessive hair behind the ears, along the armpits, and around the paws. When your dog returns home from a walk through the fields, you can check between their toes and along their coat.