Tag Archives: grass seed

Grass Seeds and Your Dog

Spring and Summer means fun outdoor times for many Australian families and their canine companions. Unfortunately with beautiful weather comes rapid growth of vegetation meaning grass seeds are out and about. These little suckers can cause lots of pain and suffering to our pets and their owners, they have a sharp tip enabling them to pierce the skin easily and can migrate through the body often bringing infection with them.

At Hall Vet Surgery the most common places we find grass seeds caught are in ear canals, in between toes, up nostrils, in eyelids or even behind eyeballs, underneath skin in various parts of the body and lodged in the vulva/penis.

Below are a list of symptoms, possible complications and what to do/not to do depending on the location of the grass seed.

EARS

Symptoms:

A grass seed in the ear might make your dog shake their head, cry out in pain, hold their head to one side or scratch at their ear.
Potential Complications:
Grass seeds lodged in the ear canal can cause ear infection, rupture of the ear drum, loss of hearing or balance and even death if infection reaches the brain.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment as soon as possible.
What not to do:
DO NOT try to remove the grass seed yourself, the ear is likely to be very painful and sensitive and if your pets moves their head suddenly you could severely damage their ear drum. Do not put any ear cleanser down the ear, if there is a grass seed present you will push it closer to the ear drum making it more difficult and hazardous to remove.

PAWS

Symptoms:
A grass seed caught in your dog’s paw may cause a red, swollen and discharging lump on the paw, your dog may limp or lick/chew at their paw constantly.
Potential Complications:
Infection, migration of the grass seed into leg and possibly in between ligaments or tendons.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment. Keep area clean with warm salty water and where possible restrain your dog from licking – this can actually push the grass seed further into the skin and cause more damage. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not try to remove the grass seed yourself.

 

NOSE

Symptoms:
Symptoms present when a grass seed has travelled into the nostril are often; sneezing, difficulty breathing, nasal discharge and rubbing or pawing at face.
Potential Complications:
A grass seed in the nostril can cause serious damage to airways and if the seed migrates into the lung it can become a life threatening emergency.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment as soon as possible. Restrict exercise. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not delay treatment.

EYES

Symptoms:
Having a grass seed caught in the eye can be extremely painful for your dog, symptoms often seen are; eyes that are swollen closed, discharge from eye, visible third eyelid and some pets may paw at their eye or rub their face on the ground/furniture.
Potential Complications:
Ulceration of the eyes surface, if damage is severe enough eye removal can be necessary.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment as soon as possible. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not delay treatment.

SKIN

Symptoms:
You will often an oozing lump sometimes with a visible entry hole, you may also notice your dog constantly lick at a spot on their body.
Potential Complications:
Infection, migration of the seed through the body.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment. Keep area clean with warm salty water and where possible restrain your dog from licking – this can actually push the grass seed further into the skin and cause more damage. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not try to remove the grass seed yourself even if the tail is visible.

VULVA / PENIS

Symptoms:
Difficulty urinating, blood in urine, licking at the site and redness or swelling.
Potential Complications:
Infection, damage to structures, invasive surgery to remove.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment. If possible, try to catch a fresh urine sample and bring it with you to your appointment. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not delay treatment.

Removal

The animal’s body is not able to break down a grass seed so when a grass seed is embedded it generally requires surgical removal. In the case of surgical removal your pet will usually have a general anaesthetic whilst we extract the offending grass seeds. General Anaesthesia allows the procedure to be painless for your pet and allows your vet to thoroughly investigate the area – we usually find more than one grass seed in any given case so it is important that we are able to have a really good look. Delaying the initial vet visit may result in more invasive (and more expensive) surgeries to find and remove the seed.

Grass Seeds surgically removed from a Dog’s ear here at Hall Vet Surgery.

Prevention is the best cure

Here are some ways you can prevent the risk of grass seeds to your dog:

  • Avoiding long grass when out walking/exploring (this also helps to minimise the risk of Snake Bites)
  • Keeping the grass in your yard tidy and mowed
  • Clipping the fur of long haired dogs. If your dog is prone to grass seeds in the ears or between the toes then we recommend regular clipping of these areas to keep the hair short at all times
If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms please give us a call on (02) 62302223.

 

Corneal ulcers

The cornea is the transparent front part of the eyeball that admits light to the eye.

A corneal ulcer is a hole in the top layer of the cornea. The most common cause of corneal ulcers is trauma. Grass seeds, a cat scratch, shampoo and sticks cause most of the corneal ulcers we see at Hall Vet Surgery.

Dry eye develops because of abnormal tear formation in older dogs and is also a common cause of corneal ulcers.  Some diseases that affect the whole body like diabetes mellitus, Cushings disease, and hypothyroidism sometimes predispose a dog to corneal ulcers, too.

A corneal ulcer is very painful.   The affected dog rubs the eye and squeezes it tightly closed. The eye looks red and watery.

Superficial corneal abrasions are difficult to see. A drop of fluorescein stains the area of ulceration and shows it up clearly under a special blue light.

A superficial corneal abrasion generally heals within 5 days. Antibiotic eye drops or ointment prevent bacterial infections.  Atropine eye drops or ointments relieve spasm and pain.

If the corneal ulcer is deep or slow healing or a descemetocele has formed we protect the eye and promote healing with a surgical overlay of conjunctiva, the third eyelid or the upper and lower eyelids.

Atropine relieves the pain from the ulcer but dilates the pupil making the dog sensitive to light. Do not be alarmed if the pupil stays dilated for several days after the last dose.

Atropine travels down the tear ducts to the mouth and because it tastes bitter causes drooling and pawing at the mouth in some dogs.

When the fluorescein stain test is negative your vet will tell you to discontinue the treatment. This is usually after at least 5 days of treatment.

The normal cornea has no blood vessels in it. When it is ulcerated blood vessels grow in from the white part of the eye, the sclera, to heal it and may obstruct vision. If they don’t retreat once the ulcer is healed we clear them with cortisone drops or ointment.

Ear Infections

How common are ear infections in dogs?

Infection of the external ear canal is very common in dogs especially those with allergies or who have long or hairy ear canals like Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles, Golden Retrievers or Old English Sheepdogs.

How do I know that my dog has an ear infection?

Dogs with ear infections flap and scratch their ears. The inside of the ear flap is red, inflamed and smelly. A black or yellowish discharge often develops.

Yeasts are the cause of most ear infections. They affect swimmers and those with long, narrow or hair filled ears that stay moist. Dogs with allergies to food or pollen also have warm, moist, inflamed ears that favour repeated infection.

When chronic ear infections are inadequately treated, more resistant bacteria can survive in the ear and are difficult to clear.

What about ear mites?

Ear mites cause a black discharge, scratching, and head shaking. They usually affect puppies or in contact adult dogs.

Can’t I just collect some medication?

There are several kinds of bacteria and at least one type of yeast that cause ear infections. Without knowing the kind of infection present, we do not know which medication to use.

Foreign bodies, like grass seeds, and tumours in the ear canal cause irritated ears, too. Treatment with medication alone will not resolve these problems.

The dog must also be examined to be sure that the eardrum is intact. Some medications result in loss of hearing if the eardrum is ruptured.

We examine a sample of the material from the ear canal under a microscope (cytology) to find which organism is the cause of the infection.

How are ear infections treated?

If there is a foreign body in the ear canal, we sedate the dog and remove it.

If there is a heavy build-up of debris we anæsthetise the dog and clean the canal.

We choose ear drops based on the type of organism we see in the discharge from the ear.

Chester’s week

 

Chester has had a big week!  On Saturday he suddenly gagged and choked.  By Monday he developed a nasty cough and his carers rushed him into us.  We thought we could feel or hear a fluttering in his chest but the Xrays were difficult to interpret.  Some oxygen and antibiotics made him comfortable and he ate well but on Tuesday he was coughing as much as ever.  Over to the specialist he went.  She passed a scope through his throat and found this huge grass seed lodged in his windpipe.  She retrieved it with a long forceps and he woke up happy and back to normal.

Today he visited us and rushed around the consult room looking for liver treats.  His fans at Hall Vet Surgery are so happy to see him bright and back to his usual puppy self!