At the Vets: Why your dog is shaking its head

Lovely Pepsi the cockerpoo, a breed very susceptible to 'grass seeds
Lovely Pepsi the cockerpoo, a breed very susceptible to 'grass seeds

We’re so spoilt for beautiful places to take our dogs here in West Sussex.

The current warmer dry weather also means much more play outdoors for both you and your dog; but it’s essential to be aware, and recognise the signs, of one particular environmental hazard.

I’m talking about the dreaded grass seed and whether you’re doing everything possible to protect your dog from these tiny, painful, and often quite expensive, foreign objects.

Grass seeds – shaped like small, pointy, arrow-heads - frequently get lodged in dog’s ear canals, eyelids, and most commonly between toes. Floppy-eared breeds with extra-furry feet e.g. spaniels and cockerpoos are most susceptible.

Signs your dog has a grass seed in their ear can include head-shaking, tilting head, pawing and rubbing affected ear on the ground, often during or soon after a walk. The seed will most likely be lodged inside the canal so impossible to observe with the naked eye from the outside.

Grass seeds lodged in the skin between your dog’s toes however are usually accompanied by a very painful red blister which your dog’s been licking. Often there’s a small hole visible in which occasionally you’ll spot the tip of the grass seed. If left, the grass seed normally travels further up into the foot making your dog’s whole paw painful and swollen.

To diagnose grass seeds in your dog’s ear we use an instrument called an otoscope to look down the canal. Dogs sometimes require sedation to allow removal of the grass seeds using special forceps. Grass seeds in paws can be incredibly challenging to find as they often hide within swollen tissues and don’t show up on X-Ray, usually requiring heavy sedation to explore as it’s so painful.

Owners of long haired breeds should take care in long-grassed areas, clip away fur on paws, toes and around ears, even consider putting booties on your dog!

When returning home from a walk, always check your dog’s feet for grass seeds, as well as eyelids and lip folds too. For advice, or if you think your dog has a grass seed, please call Grove Lodge Vets on 01903 234866.

by Marc Abraham | visit