Puppy DevelopmentJanuary 30, 2021
Prevent Separation Issues in DogsMarch 10, 2021
Grass Seeds and Dogs
The importance of handling training to help your dog with grass seeds
You may well have noticed there are grass seeds everywhere as we are now in the height of grass seed season. In the summer months this is a common problem amongst dogs. Although they are tiny, they have the potential to cause a lot of pain and infection in your dog.
The Trouble with Grass Seeds
Did you know that from June onwards is grass seed season in the UK?
Grass seeds or grass darts can find their way into your dog's coat, particularly the paws or ears, and get stuck! The issue doesn’t stop there, these troublesome seeds can get into any (yes any) nook and cranny on your dog and penetrate through the skin. Once they have penetrated the skin, they can push in completely then travel. If a grass seed gets into the foot for example it can travel up the leg where it might either become stuck or make its way out. In the case of it coming back out your dog will then have an entry wound, a track wound, and an exit wound. What does this have to do with handling? Well, the more used to being handled your puppy or dog is, the more likely you are to be able to avoid a painful experience with the grass seed!
Who is at Risk?
All animals are at risk from a grass seed injury. There are some types of dogs that are at more risk, dogs with a thick or heavy coat where the seeds can become hidden or tangled. Dogs that like walking off the beaten track and sniff amongst longer grass.
How to Protect your Dog from Grass Seeds
Grass seeds migrating to the ears is bad luck unfortunately however, dogs with long ears are generally presented more in veterinary practice.
1) Clip the fur between the pads of your pet's feet short so you can see the skin
2) keep ears clean so you can see into the ear
3) After every walk check:
- EACH toe on every foot
- check inside the ears
- check the eyes
- check all other nooks and cranny's
4) Dogs with a thick coat may need to be groomed twice per day
5) Dogs with a thick coat may need some of their coat clipped short to ensure you can check under the legs and all essential areas
6) Keep beards clean and tangle-free
Handling: ensure your dog is happy to be handled so you can check them over thoroughly after walks. If your dog is not used to this, you can train them to accept it.
Struggling with an older dog? No problem! Everyone has to start somewhere! if your dog hates his toes touched or a face examination by the Vet is just not happening! We can help! Drop us a message to get started today!
How to tell if your dog has a grass seed
The most typical location is a paw, your dog might start licking a foot in a particular location, limp or you might notice a swelling. In some cases, you might see some ooze where the wound becomes infected. If the seed is in the ear your dog might start to shake their head excessively, paw at their ear or hang their head over to one side. If the seed has gone up the nose your dog might sneeze hard, potentially continuously. If the seed is in another location, they may lick that area excessively and you may notice some swelling. In all cases your dog might also cry.
In any suspected case of a grass seed you should contact your veterinary practice as soon as possible for treatment.
In June of 2021, TWO of Katey's students have had grass seeds in their ears! As their owners have followed the ‘Handling’ training provided by Katey both dogs avoided having sedation. They both sat still and allowed the veterinarian to retrieve the grass seed. To add even more to this, both dogs did not have their owners with them due to COVID restrictions. An amazing achievement I would say and a testament to their dedication to applying their training.
OK, so now we have given you one really good reason to enforce a positive handling experience, how do you start? Well, you're in the right place! Puppy classes will have a focus on getting your puppy used to being handled along with learning how to be your best housemate and obedience. Check out our upcoming classes to join us in the next 6-week class! CLICK HERE
Author: Berni Black RVN, assistant trainer Pooch Paws Dog Training Club run by Katey Aldred MSc, RVN. Edited by Katey Aldred.