It comes as a great surprise to many people to learn that lonely little grass seeds can burrow their way through dog’s skin and migrate around in the subcutaneous tissue causing pain, infection and tissue damage or travel down an ear canal to rupture the ear drum.
Canberra is really an old sheep paddock and the grass seeds that used to make a living on sheep now rely on dogs to spread themselves as far afield as possible.
Grass seeds are designed with a razor sharp point to stick into skin and they have special backwards facing barbs that force the point further and further under the skin with our pets every movement. A dogs natural instinct is to lick the grass seed from their paw or shake it from their ears but this movement just drives the grass seed deeper through the skin or further down the ear canal.
So licking a paw or head shaking may be the only sign that there is a seriously painful problem. Vets remove bucket loads of grass seeds from dogs each year and they are the number one summer time menace to dogs in the ACT.
Prevention is always the best cure. Avoid walking your dog through grassed areas or at least check them thoroughly afterwards and pick all the grass seeds off.
Common locations are under the ears, between the toes and under the arms, although they can be found anywhere.
Treatments usually involves a general anaesthetic and surgery to remove the grass seeds followed by bandaging and antibiotics. Ear drums ruptured by grass seeds usually grow back with careful treatment and monitoring.