Grass Seeds in Dogs: How to Protect and Treatment Options

Filed in Dog Health on May 5, 2022

grass seeds in dogs

Does your dog enjoy spending time outdoors and rolling around in the grass? While this is a favorite activity for many pups, grass can pose various risks to your pet’s health.

Grass seed irritation is one of the most common grass-related issues dogs encounter. The sharp edges of the seed can pierce your pet’s skin and cause serious harm if not properly treated.

In this article, you’ll learn whether grass seeds can hurt dogs, how to protect dogs from grass seeds, signs of harm, and treatment of grass seeds in dogs.

Note: this article contains advice that is general in nature, so please speak to a veterinarian for treatment options specific to your dog’s situation.

Can Grass Seeds Hurt Dogs?

Grass seeds, also known as awns, are produced by long grasses during the spring and summer months. Typically 1-2 cm in length, grass seeds have sharp ends and microscopic barbs to help them embed in the soil.

Unfortunately, grass seeds can also embed themselves in your dog’s skin. This most commonly occurs when your dog steps on a seed while playing outside. However, grass seeds can also get stuck in your dog’s ears, eyes, or nose.

When a grass seed enters your dog’s skin, it can be challenging to get it out. As your dog moves, the seed will continue to burrow deeper.

This creates a path of damaged tissue known as a tract. The damage the seed causes is not only painful, but it can also be a breeding ground for infection.

The sharp edges and barbs on the grass seed prevent it from reversing direction and falling out on its own. Because of this, grass seeds must be carefully removed to prevent additional harm to your pet.

How to Protect Dogs From Grass Seeds

While grass seeds can be dangerous, there are steps you can take to help keep your dog safe. Here are a few ways you can protect your pup.

1. Avoid Tall Grasses

dog in tall green grass

One of the best ways you can keep your dog safe from grass seeds is to avoid tall grasses.

Seed heads typically develop when the grass reaches a certain height. Keeping your dog away from tall grass can reduce their risk of exposure.

Additionally, certain species of grass are more likely to cause problems. Foxtails and cheatgrass are notorious for their spiny seed heads.

Avoid letting your pet play in areas where these grasses are present. If you have these grasses in your yard, consider replacing them with another dog-friendly species.

2. Check Your Dog After Spending Time Outdoors

Another essential step in keeping your dog grass seed-free is to perform a thorough check after spending time outdoors. When your dog is done playing, check between their paw pads for any seeds or other debris.

It’s also critical to check between their legs, underneath their tail, and any heavily feathered areas where a grass seed might get caught.

By the way, if your dog spends time outdoors, Dog Endorsed has an article on dog safe weed killer.

3. Groom Your Dog Regularly

While checking your pet for grass seeds is essential, it’s often difficult to spot a tiny seed under all your dog’s hair. For dogs with longer hair coats, grooming is a critical part of keeping your dog safe.

Slicker brushes are great for removing debris from your dog’s coat, including any lingering grass seeds. When brushing your dog, pay close attention to any areas of dense fur.

Additionally, you may want to consider clipping heavily feathered areas and any excess hair between your dog’s paw pads. This can reduce their risk of attracting seeds.

4. Use Protective Dog Boots

If your dog is prone to getting grass seed in their paws, you may also want to consider protective booties. Boots provide an extra layer of protection and decrease the likelihood of a seed penetrating the skin.

Dog boots are also great if your dog is recovering from a previous grass seed injury.

Signs of Grass Seed Issues

Now that you know how to protect your dog from grass seeds, you should also know how to detect the signs of a grass seed issue.

Your dog’s reaction to grass seed irritation can vary depending on the seed’s location and depth.

Here are the most common areas where you’ll find grass seeds in dogs and what signs you should be looking for.

Paws

If your dog gets a grass seed in their paw, you may notice them excessively licking their foot. Licking can further irritate the skin and cause the area to become red or warm to the touch.

The deeper the seed moves, the more pain your dog may experience. As a result, your dog may walk with a limp or begin favoring the injured paw.

Ears

Excessive head shaking is one of the most common symptoms for dogs with grass seeds in their ears. Many dogs will shake and scratch at the ears to try to relieve the discomfort.

This is often ineffective in removing the grass seed and only causes the seed to travel deeper into the ear.

If the seed remains in the ear canal, your dog may develop an ear infection. Signs of an ear infection include redness, discomfort, and discharge.

You may also notice an unpleasant odor coming from the affected ear.

Eyes

Grass seeds around your dog’s eyes are extremely painful and can cause corneal ulcers. The most common symptoms of eye irritation include increased tearing, squinting, swelling, and redness.

If left untreated, corneal ulcers can become infected and permanently affect your pet’s vision.

Nose

As your dog sniffs around your yard, grass seeds can be inhaled and get stuck in their nose. This often causes a tickling sensation that may cause your dog to sneeze or paw at their face.

If the seed is not removed, the foreign object will continue to make its way deeper into your pet’s airway. This can cause significant respiratory problems, including coughing and difficulty breathing.

Treating Grass Seeds in Dogs

dog licking his paw

When it comes to grass seed treatment, timing is critical. The sooner you can remove the grass seed, the less damage it can do.

As soon as you notice your pet experiencing symptoms, examine the area closely and look for evidence of a seed. If the injury has just occurred, you may be able to see the seed and remove it with a clean pair of tweezers.

Unfortunately, grass seeds can penetrate the skin quickly and are often difficult to remove. In this case, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian.

Your vet can use special instruments to remove the seed and evaluate and damage it has caused.

If the grass seed has traveled deep into the skin, additional diagnostics may be necessary to locate the seed and remove it. Removal can be painful, so your vet may recommend sedation or a local anesthetic.

Once the seed is removed, your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. This will help resolve the infection and provide some pain relief for your pup.

Additionally, it’s important to keep the wound clean and dry during the healing process. If possible, bandage the affected area and limit your dog’s time outside.

Summary of Grass Seeds in Dogs: How to Protect and Treatment Options

While they may seem small, grass seeds can cause significant harm to your dog. It’s essential to examine your pet closely after spending time outdoors and look for any signs of irritation or discomfort.

Additionally, avoiding certain grasses and using protective boots can significantly reduce your dog’s risk of injury.

If your dog is experiencing symptoms of grass seed irritation, contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible. Removing the seed and getting your pet the appropriate treatment is critical.

Understanding the risk of grass seeds is a significant part of keeping your pet safe. I hope these tips will help keep your dog protected and free of grass seeds.

By the way, if your dog plays on your lawn, you may also want to research.

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