From my own experience I can tell you grass seeds can be dangerous for pets. But I have also spoken to other pet owners who have the same viewpoint. And the vet uses some very choice words about grass seeds in general!
We live in the countryside in Central Italy and, depending on how dry the weather has been, the grass dies early. But the grass in the olive groves around us is allowed to grow until it is tall before it is cut. At this point down to the soil. I guess to save having to do it more than once. That means lots of grass seeds laying on the surface. Of course animals pick up grass seeds easily on their fur. So from June to the end of July, and sometimes beyond, we have to be alert.
Grass Seeds Can Be Dangerous For Pets
Snorting A Grass Seed
If you are a dog owner you will know that dogs sniff anything and everywhere all of the time. But that can cause problems.
Having had a darling long haired chihuahua, Holly, who lived with me here in Italy for many years, one of the things that happened each June/July was that she would end up covered in grass seeds. She had a lazy tail that trailed on the ground as she walked and I was forever brushing it clean. I would look for patches of ground that were a bit cleaner. But given that we live in the countryside surrounded by grass it was a bit of a lost cause.
But, the worst thing that ever happened with her was when she got a grass seed up her nose. She had managed to snort it up her nostril.
Now, the thing with grass seeds there are so many different types. Some are straightforward and long, some are split and some have horrendous barbs on them. The first two are easier to remove. You guessed it, Holly had a barbed seed up her nose. I had to take her to the vet to be sedated and have an instrument put up her nose to remove it. I couldn’t believe how big the grass seed was when the vet gave it to me!
But that wasn’t the worst thing that happened to us thanks to grass seeds.
Losing A Dog Due To A Grass Seed
When Holly died, about a year later we got a new dog Barnie. When he was five years old he wouldn’t get out of bed one morning and the Vet said he was tender around his spine so he must have injured it somehow. Two weeks of complete rest. After a few days he was getting worse and they did scans which showed he had a grass seed actually lodged in his spine. The vet thinks he ate it and it migrated through his stomach wall and up into his spine. He was due surgery to remove it but developed an infection leading to meningitis. In spite of everyone’s best efforts he didn’t make it.
It’s Not Just Dogs
I currently have 16 cats and shudder to think how many I have had in total over the years. Every year grass seeds are an issue with them so I have a lot of experience in dealing with them.
One or two of my cats have had abscesses that turned out to be caused by grass seeds when the vet drained them. Cats do like to roll around on the ground and I guess that is when they pick these things up on their fur.
Many times in the past the cats have presented with grass seeds in their eyes. Of course the worst thing to do is to pull them, particularly if they are the barbed sort. I have lost track of how often I have had to go to the vet for the removal just to be on the safe side. That is unless I can clearly see the seed and what it is and it is okay to remove safely myself. After removal I treat the eye for a few days with an antibiotic cream prescribed by the Vet.
On the most recent occasion, Moonboots appeared one morning with a closed, weepy eye and I could see the grass seed sticking out. Most of it was on view and it was clear it was a simple removal so I did it myself. Then applied some antibiotic cream to the eye. It had cleared up by the next day. I can assure you, if it wasn’t a simple job I would have taken her straight to the vet!
The Importance Of Checking
Our two dogs now, Ringo and Spud, have so far had no problems with grass seeds. Lots of other issues mind you as I have said in previous blogs. But we do check their paws each evening to make sure nothing is stuck between their pads. I also check their ears regularly.
The cats get fed all together in the evening, a mass scrum across three tables in the front garden! But this is always my chance to worm, Frontline and check each of them as they eat. At grass seed time of year I check their eyes and ears in particular in case of problems. I also look for any suspicious lumps. I remove any grass seeds I find in their fur.
It Is Not Just Me
I know I am not alone with this problem. When I was at the Vets recently for a routine visit with Stevie Mouse, there was a woman with a large dog with a massive abscess on its side from a grass seed. It wasn’t responding to treatment so she was back again. That led to a discussion among the other dog owners in the waiting area and it was surprising how many had tales to tell relating to their pets and grass seeds.
So grass seeds can be dangerous for pets and pet owners need to just be alert and remove any they find on their pet before they become a problem.
A Word of Caution: I am not a vet, just reporting my own experience of grass seed problems with my animals. If you find a grass seed actually in your pet’s eye or ears, or find a lump or abscess, you should consult your vet.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!