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Is your dog susceptible to grass seed injury?

Is your dog susceptible to grass seed injury?

Summer may mean more outdoor play for you and your dog, but it is also a time to be aware of environmental risks. Find out more about grass seed injuries in our need-to-know guide.

Grass seeds are something dogs frequently get lodged in their ear canals or between the toes. Long-eared breeds like Cocker and Springer Spaniels are most susceptible.


Dogs with grass seeds in their ears will suddenly start shaking and pawing at their heads and the affected ear, often during or soon after a walk. They will often hold their heads to the side in an attempt to release the seed. You won't be able to spot the seed, as it will be lodged inside the ear canal.

If your dog has grass seeds lodged in the skin between the toes, however, you may see a red raised boil that the dog has been licking for a day or two. There's often also a small hole and sometimes the tip of the grass seed may be visible. The dog's paw may be swollen or sore if the grass seed has moved into the foot.


Grass seeds in your dog's ear will be diagnosed using an otoscope to look down the ear canal. Dogs often need to be sedated to allow the removal of the grass seeds using forceps. Grass seeds in the paw can be challenging to find as they can hide within the swollen tissue. Again, sedation is usually required to look for the seed via the entry hole in the paw.


Owners of hairy breeds should avoid long-grassed areas. It's also advisable to ensure that the fur on the paws, toes and around the ears of susceptible breeds (see below) is kept trimmed short during the summer months.

Some owners might choose to put dog booties on their pet.

When returning home from a walk, it's a good idea to check your dog for grass seed as they can become stuck in a number of places as well as the paw and ear - check also their eyelids and lip folds.


All breeds can be affected but Petplan has noticed that the Cockapoo, Cocker and Springer Spaniels are the most commonly affected breeds due to their pendulous ear conformation.

Has your dog ever been affected? Let us know in the comments below.



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beware that not just ears and paws can be affected. my dog, Billy, a lab-pointer cross had an unidentified lump growing down its leg. vet was mystified as to the problem. biopsy performed and the result of which determined that a seed had started to grow and take root in the muscle and was growing down from the top/shoulder joint, downwards about 4inches. operation performed at a cost of nearly £1000 (thank goodness for petplan insurance!). vet said it was a very rare occurance and he hadn't personally seen it happen before, just one of those freak things that came happen. dog recovered very well and back to exploring his world with his usual vim and vigour in no time.
Andrew McDonald
Our 4-year old Springer Spaniel is recovering from major surgery to remove an abscess in her lung which resulted in her getting pneumonia almost cetainly as a result of inhaling a grass seed. The cost of her treatment? More than £6000! That's one very expensive grass seed. Thank goodness for insurance.
Jeff Heathcote
My Dog Barney is an ESS, He is insured with Petplan. Last week He had to have a grass seed removed from his eye. The eye was infected, and had a small ulcer.The Vet gave us a bottle of Tiacil eye drops, which we had to apply three times daily.His eye cleared up ok, we were advised to avoid the long grassy fields.
Marion Muntane
My dog managed to get three grass seeds embedded in her tongue, thank goodness for pet plan insurance as they paid to have them removed, my dog is a boxer, they have very long tongues which are out whilst running, we never knew what was wrong she just couldn't lap up water once we returned home from our holiday, so please do beware
Linda Parry
Our cockerpoo recently had to have a general aesthetic to remove bits of grass seeds from his tonsils. We noticed that he was very uncomfortable and was trying to make himself sick, unfortunately he was doing this by trying to eat more of the ornamental grasses which, we found later, had caused the problem in the first place. He recovered quickly but it did mean removing all our precious grasses from the garden. Although he loves to run through the long grasses, wheat and other cereals on walks through local fields he does not seem to want to chew them, thank goodness.
Our 12 month older working cocker has just had a grass seed as long as my thumb nail taken out of his eye fold. I noticed his eye was weeping a bit, thank goodness I took him to get it checked out - the vet said it would have penetrated his eyeball and "kept on going". Be vigilant folks. I have ordered him a pair of 'Doggles' (eye goggles for dogs) can't think of any other way to keep grass seeds out of his eyes round here as we are surrounded by fields.
Christine Pullen
One of my irish setters, Merlin, very recently had to have a grass seed removed from between his soft and hard palate....he had a very uncomfortable week before the vet worked out what was wrong and even afterwards he had to have antibiotics as he appeared to be brewing an infection. The vet told us that they had had three dogs in that day having seeds removed..one from the eye, one from the paw and our Merlin. Thank goodness for insurance!!
My Airedale ran in to the nearly ripe barley. Although she did not suffer any long term damage it was extremely difficult to remove the barley barbs from her wiry coat. She will be on a lead near the barley till it is harvested.
LIz Burridge
Gloria, our 3 year old Tibetan Terrier had two incidents involving grass seeds lodged in her armpits over the space of two weeks last summer. She had to have a full general anaesthetic for both removals plus follow up antibiotics and a pretty short haircut. PetPlan were very good and covered both procedures but now I always check her legs and armpits when we get back from the fields after a walk - really unpleasant experiences for us all.
Linda Blandford
At first I thought Billy was licking his paw as a dog variation on sucking his thumb. It was hot. He hasn't lived through a real summer before ie sunshine and high temperatures. Then I realised it had been going on for a few days so marched him to the vet, even though I couldn't see anything. Anti-biotics and a vet's scalpel later.... Now he's got really strange bumps on his neck spreading across his head so it's more ant-biotics and anti-allergy pills but it's not doing any good - any ideas anyone? Off to the vet again on Monday.
my dog had a grass seed in her foot last week , which caused her pad to swell and get infected . A trip to the vet , who manages to remove the seed and a course of antibiotics . It cleared up very quickly . Unfortunately 5 days later my dog started head shaking and another trip to the vet later she was diagnosed with an in inflammed ear drum for a grass seed . Sedation to clean out her ear , steroids and antibiotics and now she is fine !!!!
Re your lumps problem Linda, this was the first problem I noticed with my cockapoo this summer. I used the fuciderm gel prescribed by the vet and it cleared up pretty quickly, but had to use the cone to stop her licking. The bumps have not come back. I suspected they were red ant bites.Regarding the grass seeds,I too first noticed this problem with seeds stuck in the hair of her armpit. This led to a raised lump which she kept licking, followed by a sore front paw. A seaside trip seemed to sort this out, presumably away from grass and swimming in the sea. However, last week she started limping and the site had gone septic within 3 days, despite a check up with the Vet and bathing with hot salt water. Immediate trip to the vet hospital, cleaning the wounds under sedation and then a 5 day course of antibiotics has sorted her out. I now blast (kindly) her paws with a hose immediately after walks, and generally check her over. This is a nightmare problem as it is extremely difficult to avoid the grasses.
Roxannah Hart
My lovely Sprocker, Charlie, (sadly no longer with me) had enormous long ears and twice suffered with grass seeds. I then 'invented' a bonnet for him - I cut the toe off a stocking and pulled it over his head, tucking his ears inside the bigger, stretchy top of it. This looked cute, as if he was wearing a snood, and he never minded wearing it. I got through a lot of them as he often returned with them in shreds, but he never got another seed in his ears. My current boy has too big a head to do this! I hope it may help someone.
My parents Labrador had a cist removed from her neck and it turns out it was more than likely a grass seed that had burrowed through her skin. Her body then started reacting to it by producing the cist.
Juliet Bucknall
Does everyone know which grass seeds? They are the long spikey ones. The spikes go in and then the seed can't come out!!!! My last dog cost Petplan alot of money (poor Petplan!) as the grass seed travelled around Katyas body and ended up in a salivary gland. It was horrible! Keep checking and groom your dog after walks.
Our 6 yr old cocker got her first grass seed in her paw about 3 weeks ago. 3 investigations under sedation failed to track it down. It went in through the front of her paw and appeared to exit at the back of her front leg just below the elbow, but continuing infection seemed to suggest something was still there. Anaesthetic number 4 finally tracked down the offending seed. Our vets were fantastic - I couldn't thank them enough for trying so hard. They obviously felt awful that they could't find it sooner. I think i might have a look for some bootees if I can persuade her to wear them.
MY Labrador Henry had 14 grass seeds in both eyes last week after a walk. I used a saline solution for newborn babies (Calpol) and it irrigated both eyes and nostrils. I have ear wash from my vet also. We didn't know until he returned from romping around how bad it was. Good that there's this awareness b
Gillian Kitcherside
My Springbatt Busby has recently had a grass seed removed from his eye.This caused conjunctivitis which drew my attention to it. Fortunately my vet was on the ball and investigated the eye further and found the seed rather than assuming it was a bacterial infection causing the conjunctivitis.The post op treatment was three lots of drops at twenty minute intervals every eight hours for ten days. Still better than Busby losing his eye as had happened to a basset of mine before.
Jan Churcher
Some years ago I lost my seven year old golden retriever because of a grass seed. I noticed that she had become unwell and her side was swollen, these were the first symptoms. She survived a five hour operation at a veterinary hospital where the vets were able to track the path of the grass seed. It had travelled through her body and ended up in the wall of the aorta. They thought she had picked it up a couple of months before, rolling in the grass. Sadly she died two days later from an infection. Since then I’ve been only too aware of the potential problem. I’m so glad it’s being discussed, I had no idea of the danger.
To prevent grass seeds causing trouble,whilst walking in long grass. Use the top part of a stocking to slip over the dogs head, and fold the ears in the stocking. You will never again have your dog suffer a grass seed in the ear! This method worked for our spaniel, give it a try!!!
My 10 month old boxer x has a swollen paw its all red and puffy and looks like blood is coming from her pores its only the one I have taken her to the vet about this problem and was told its because she has sensitive skin ... but reading these posts has worried me .. she also has lumps all up her back leg on the same side could this be a side effect from these grass seeds? Please let me know what you think!!
Tracy Howse
One of my dogs once got the head of a wild grass stuck up his nose. This required an operation to remove. Symptoms were continual sneezing and shaking his head.
Our 10 month old sprocker had a grass seed in his ear, removed same day thankfully. Will now trim hair around the ear and hope it reduces the chance of it happening again. When my previous dogs which were Jack Russell's, had sore eyes,one of them repeatedly got infections and was due to have surgery on an eyelid a friend recommended rinsing the eye out with cold tea. Blow me it worked never had any further problems with infection. I still use it to this method day.
My Ruby Cavalier last month, showed me he was in distress, Usual checks were done, and nothing and then I checked in his mouth and found a grass seed had gone in between his teeth & into the gum. Bless him at the vets he stood perfectly still and out it came. Not like my other cavalier, who had one in his ear, refused to be examined with the instrument the vets use in the ear, so they had to drug him to look and do the removal. Inside ears now checked from every walk and fur inside cropped short.
Anna Moncur
Well how appropriate was that advice!! Last week we had to take our collie Skye to our local vet to be sedated and her left ear cleaned out which had grass seeds lodged deep down.Do not ignore the signs of discomfort - violent shaking of the head can burst blood vessels.Now the rains have returned anti tic preparations are essential.Happy holidays --- ?
Paul Millward
How very appropriate, I am so pleased that you are highlighting this problem. After every walk we scrutinise our Beardie for any sign of grass seed. Our previous Beardie picked up a grass seed resulting in perniculitis and a massive operation on her side. It seems the seed gets under the skin and then migrates or burrows its way under the skin. Any dog owner needs to be vigilant, particularly long haired breeds like Beardies.
Mrs Stevens
Our Japanese Shiba Inus, always sensitive with their feet, seem to be susceptible from time to time.Although no grass seeds have ever been visible in their paws.Antibiotics, salt bathing and Fuciderrm have helped.
avril batty
my yorkshire terrier harry had a eye infection on taking him to the vet she could not find any foreign objects in his eye but 24 hours later she found a 2 inch long grass seed we were very lucky
Crissy Mitchell
Three weeks ago Asha, our Rottie, and I had lovely walk through the fields. We always end our walk on hard ground to help keep her claws short, as I looked down at her I noticed a very slight lump on her eye lid-to be honest, I didn't think anymore about it. In a matter of hours it had swollen to the size of a small pea, I rung the vets straight away and thankfully they were able to see Asha within the hour. Between me phoning the vet and getting Asha in the car there must have been so much pressure in the swelling that it burst. On arrival at the vets she could see a small hole in Asha's eyelid and her eyeball was very red and sore. She said we were lucky that it had burst and after an injection and course of anti-bioethics everything cleared up-all this was down to a grass seed!
We have rehomed an 8 yr old border collie, she has short hair and she will walk and run through long grass every day. I occasionally see her pawing her face or wiping her face in grass and never really knew why she did this but now realise it could be grass seed. I will take heed of all advice from other owners. Also I found my first tick on my leg! But they are too small to see on a black dog, any suggestions with ticks please?
dawn powell
A friend lost his 2 year old springer when he arrested under general anaesthetic having a grass seed removed from his ear. A terrible tragedy.
I some times think that checking my dogs over after a walk takes longer than the walk itself! However, they seem to love all the attention. I'm just glad that the grass seeds appear during the summer holidays when I have the time...I would have problems during a term time.
Margaret Whitmarsh
Our lurcher is just recovering from a trip to the vet after removal of a grass seed from his groin. We expecting a number of trips to the vets for this reason. Unfortunately due to the nature of the dog it is difficult to keep him out of the grass without restricting his exercise. Sorry Petplan. Speaking to the the vet he said that that they have had an influx of grass seed injuries so far this summer.
Our dog had a grass seed that entered in one of those hard to reach areas...up between his manhood (doghood?).After lots of swelling, discomfort and help from the vet we managed to remove the offending seed, much to his relief. Like many others have mentioned here, it had began to move its way around and was removed about 2 inches from where it had entered.I can only applaud everyone's dogs. If we humans suffered from such problems after going out for a walk then you'd never hear the end of our moaning!
maria rawling
Elsie, my Dog Trust cross terrier recently had to have vet's attention to remove grass seed from her vulva! being so short and tending to sit frequently, may have caught it this way. alternatively she loves to do the 'frog' but I am much more vigilant as bill amounted to £300 which i paid as not covered by Dog Trust SAS. Since joining Petplan they have put an exclusion on policy which hopefully will be reviewed and removed at policy renewal.
Teresa Powell
A previous dog had a grass seed in her paw, sadly as she was often cleaning her feet, I didn't notice anything wrong until I spotted a large hole at the back of her `ankle', I immediately took her to my vet who spotted the grass seed just leaving the `hole' on its journey up my dogs leg. Had I left it even a few hours more, the seed would have needed surgery to remove it, not to mention the pain my poor girl would have had to endure.. It is so important to be vigilant during the summer months...
This time of year grass seeds pose a real risk to our beloved doggies.I've had experience of 3 needing surgical removal over the years.I wrote a blog post about the dangers of grass seeds and how to do your best to avoid danger to your doggies, which you can find HERE
Julia Woodington
Thank you for all the interesting comments. I have 3 springers and will now be watching them even more carefully than I do. I appreciate this email from you and please keep them coming. Regards
One of our Cairn terriers had a weepy red eye though he wasnt rubbing it. We bathed it with saline solution intending on seeing what happened over 24 hours. With the second lot of saline I lifted his eye lid so that it would go in properly and was horrified to see a huge grass seed under the eyelid. I got it out and he instantly looked perkier. I carried on bathing his eye for a few days until the redness had gone. No wonder he didnt rub the eye it must have been so painful. In future will always check under his eye lids when any weepiness occurs
jilly orme
my cocker spaniel and springer,got them in their ears and toes last year,with no long term affects.a few visits to the vet though!very costly,but they're worth it!my sprocker youngster got some in his toes last week,but we managed to remove them!i expect there will be more!touch wood,the jack russell has not had any yet!
I have just paid £4.99 for a doggie SNOOD, looks funny on her but cheaper than a vet visit and she has not been bother by wearing it.
e saunders
Where did you get your doggy snood? My cocker spaniel has had a few seeds in ear problems
my 5 month old jack russel/lakeland Alfie suffers with a hot to touch belly.often resulting in him biting the skin or dragging himself along the grass to ease the itching, currently using piriton and calamine, any suggestions?tracey
We have had to go to the Vet for the last 3 years during summer time to have grass seed remove from our dog a West Highland Terrier called Skye. He always got it on one of his paw's and has to be sedated before the seed can be removed. It is not only costly (thanks to pet insurance) but they feel so poorly after all that trauma!This year we have managed to keep him away from the grass as far as possible to avoid them during the season.My advice to all dog owners is that, keep their dog paw hair/fur as short as possible and avoid the spiky grass area as far as possible. If possible rinse their paws after a walk and run your fingers through their paws to check for any seed caught up on their fur!
Justin Case
HiUsed to get the occassional tick on various parts of my body when gardening in France. Found that a small smear of Germaline on the tick body made it drop off - head 'n all.
Justin Case
ps. Do not use Germaline on dogs
Patti Fletcher
Our dog Lola, a Cavalier King Charles, had a grass seed up her nose when she was only five months old. She started sneezing constantly when we were out walking last September. I phoned the vet for advice and was told to bring her down straight away to be checked. She was given a general anaethetic and a large grass seed was removed from quite far up her nose. The grass we were near was quite dry but it had got up her nose in a split second so I am very wary and have heard of lots of other grass seed incidents with dogs since.
Grass seeds can grow and get stuck in other places as well as the pads and ears as my staffy had one lodged in his neck which had to be surgically removed...can be dangerous...BE AWARE
I think it's great that this topic has had such a fantastic response. We have two gorgeous (of course) Cockapoos and dealing with grass seeds during the summer is a nightmare. We religiously check the dogs over after each walk and remove lots of the blighters. However, recently it seems that we are removing the seeds far more easily, or at least before they are causing major problems for the dogs. We can only put this down to the fact that they are overdue for clipping and I cannot help but wonder whether their longer coats may be protecting their skin from being penetrated by the grass seeds so quickly, giving us time to remove them before the damage is done. Of course, I have everything crossed and I speak with bated breath. Also, the grooming takes time and patience on all our parts. Opal and Wizzy will be clipped soon because they need to be kept cool but still I cannot help but wonder if we are doing the right thing as far as grass seeds are concerned, especially as it can be argued that a slightly longer coat can protect your pet from the sun. However, there begins an entirely different debate..........
My Jack Russell bitch loves to eat grass, she swallowed one of those sticky rye type seeds & it got stuck behind her tonsil. Operation was needed to remove it. Thankfully I have Pet Plan Insurance so a lot of stress was taken out of the situation for me, if not for my dog.
John Robertson
Hi Sarah, I have had 6 boxers over a 40 year period and will continue with the same breed . One of the most frequent conditions are skin problems , also lumps we usual call boxer bumps (( mostly benign ) . So your vet may be right , especially the redness between the paws. However to be sure get more than one opinion . We have several vets at our practice and found some are better at different things . We have always been covered with Pet Plan which seems to meet our needs. Hope you resolve the problem soon . PS none allergy food helped a lot .John
Madelien Travis
My Yorkie Alfie, got a grass seed in his ear which perforated his ear drum and had to be operated on.Thankfully he made a great recovery, and it has not affected his hearing. I have him insured with pet plan which I will do for the rest of his life. It does save some of the stress of having a sick pet.
Sharon Rees
My cocker spaniel recently had a grass seed stuck in her lip fold! I had no idea what it was and thought we were in for a trip to the vet. It was only my nursing background that made me think that there was something like a splinter there. Jett was lucky, the grass seed came out wiyj a small amount of pressure from behind the swelling.
Dawn Dutson
My 4 year old cocker spaniel spent nearly a week in the vets last year. He was ok when we went to bed one night but when we got up the next day he was yelping and wouldn't let us touch him.. I took him straight to the vets. They suspected some kind of foreign body but couldn't determine where it was. They kept him in under observation and after about 5 days an abscess emerged and erupted. The culprit was found. It was one of those grass seeds that go in but can't be pulled out the same way. Dexter was so poorly. We genuinely thought that we were going to lose him. If it hadn't been for the care and expertise of my vets I'm sure we would have done. We couldn't believe how something so small had been so dangerous. Thankfully Petplan picked up the full cost of Dexters stay at the vets.
Denis Baldry
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Ella Thomas-Good
We have just had over 2 weeks of waiting to see if our lab had cancer as his neck swelled up on 28th august, we went out in the morning and came back in the afternoon and his neck and head had swollen up within that time. We were on holiday and took him to the vets straight away. They didn't know what was wrong, we got back home and our vets thought it could be cancer. After losing our lurcher to lymphoma in 2007, we were beyond worry. He had an operation and it was a grass seed that was lodged in a muscle in his throat, thank god, the relief was immense. You can't wrap them in bubble wrap just thank god for pet plan :)
Wow i didn't realize grass seed could be so dangerous for dogs.
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Denise Cowl
My dog had a grass seed up its nose formonths the vet was treati.g
Sandie neal
My 12 year old German shepherd went in a barley field and ate the seed tops. Ended up stuck in her throat and she couldn't dislodge it. She needed an op and they found 6 pieces of grass seed and one was over 5 inches long. A small piece had travelled to her lung. So lucky to still have her. Just be aware walking in fields.
Hi SandieThank you for sharing your story with us. We hope she is recovering well. ThanksJade - the Petplan Team
I'm just back from the vet with our Lab/Rottweiler cross Bella, who had some discharge coming out of her eye down the tear canal for the last few days. We waited to see, if it would clear by itself, as she didn't seem to be too bothered by it, but it still was there, if not as much discharge, this morning. The vet out dye in her eye and seed, possibly a grass seed that caused the inflammation and gave us some eye drops to put in 2x daily for about 5-7 days. If not better by then, we're to come back.Until now I hadn't heard about grass seeds being so dangerous for dogs, and we've had our dogs for 5 years!
Hi Regy,We are sorry to hear about Bella - we hope she is recovering well. We hope our articles provide useful and helpful information to pet owners like yourself, so that owners are made aware of things such as grass seeds and the signs for spotting them. Thank you for sharing your story with us.Thanks,Jade - the Petplan Team
mary waldron
I have a great tip. Buy a poultice (epsom salts cream) (about £3.00 from boots the chemist) rub on the affected area and muzzle your dog to prevent him/her licking the affected area you will find the foreign object will draw out the offending object and save you a fortune in vets bills :-)
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