How to avoid grass seed abscesses in your pet this spring

The grass is growing again this Spring, which means we’re in the season of bindis and grass seeds. 

This time of year we’re commonly treating grass seed abscesses in our pets. If you look closely at a grass seed head, you’ll see that they are shaped like an arrow with a very sharp point and feathered sides. Once the head lodges into your pet's skin, pain and infection can result, and it can even migrate further around the body under the skin.

Many dogs and cats love to roll and play in the grass, so the common spots we find grass seeds in our pets are the paws, in the eyes, and in the ear, but they can lodge anywhere there is skin.

Symptoms depend on where the grass seed has lodged and can include your pet shaking their head, rubbing their eyes or face, sore eye, ear infection, licking and biting at their paws or affected area, and limping.

Your grass seed abscess avoidance plan

  1. Mow your lawn regularly

  2. Walk on short grass and paths, avoiding walks in the long grass

  3. Regularly have long haired dogs groomed to keep fur short especially around the face, paws and ears. 

  4. Brush cats coat daily

  5. Check your little love daily. Straight after a walk spend five minutes checking your pup thoroughly from nose to tail, and remove any grass seeds you see – this gets rid of them before they can burrow into the skin. Be systematic and check the legs, arm pits, body, around the tail, face, ears and paws especially between each of the toes.

In the unhappy situation your pet has a grass seed causing infection, it needs to be removed and treated immediately. Grass seeds and resulting abscesses cause pain and discomfort, and also cause great damage to the affected area.  

Head to your local Vet for a hands on examination- it’s much easier (and cheaper!) to treat these early rather than further down the track. Sometimes, anaesthetic and surgery are needed to find and safely remove a grass seed.

Get to know Dr Claire Jenkins

Written by Dr Claire Jenkins. Claire is a QLD graduate with over 15 years experience as a neighbourhood Veterinarian in Australia and the UK. Animal lover and the founder of VetChat, born from a passion to help pet carers everywhere access trusted advice earlier, for healthier, happier pets. Grateful to be carer to her beautiful Red-dog.

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