Grass seeds’ pointy, hook-like structures are designed to attach and migrate inward, making it easy for them to puncture dogs’ skin and travel throughout their bodies. They can more easily gain access through noses, ears, eyes, and paws, but can cause problems on any part of a dog’s body if left too long. These are the most common risks grass seeds pose to dogs:
Potential health risks and complications
The potential for grass seeds to cause health issues increases with the amount of time they’re left undetected on dogs’ bodies. Their migrational abilities mean they can travel quite some distance under the skin, leaving dogs vulnerable to abscesses, infections, and severe discomfort.
Also, their structure is designed in such a way that they tend to break apart when being pulled out, making it more difficult to remove them completely. The pain and irritation of grass seeds stuck in their skin causes dogs to excessively lick, bite, and scratch at the site of the wound, further increasing their risk of infection.
Common symptoms and signs of grass seed-related issues
Depending where your dog has a grass seed on their body, some common signs may be present. Here’s a quick break down of how dogs might respond to grass seeds stuck in their various body parts:
Pawing at face
One eye closed (fully or partially)
Excessive tear production or eye discharge
Excessive head shaking
Tilting head to one side
Pawing/scratching ear area
Rubbing ears/head on ground or other surfaces
Redness inside ear
Uncontrollable sneezing, especially at first
Pawing at muzzle
Rubbing muzzle on ground
Reverse sneezing (sounds like choking/wheezing)
Holding one paw off the ground/limping
Swollen/red between toes and/or on paw pads
Licking/biting/chewing affected paw/s
Pulling affected paw away when touched
Possible long term consequences if left untreated
Sadly, due to their small size and ability to penetrate skin so quickly, many grass seed injuries go undetected until further damage is done. Their tendency to migrate can lead them anywhere on a dog’s body, including into the lungs and digestive tract if not caught in time. Aside from the above-mentioned infections and abscesses, complications can include temporary lameness, respiratory distress, intestinal damage, and widespread inflammation .