November 2023 Newsletter

This Month's Featured Article

Spring is here – and with it, unfortunately, comes grass seeds! 

Grass seed awns are the seed heads of grass, and they are very spikey and stick into pets’ fur (and humans’ shoes and pants), which is a clever trick of the grass plant to help spread its seed. Given their pointy nature, grass seeds can negatively affect dogs, cats and wildlife, depending on which organ/location they affect.

Removal of grass seeds may be achievable on a conscious pet in a consultation or require sedation, general anaesthetic, or surgery. The pet’s tolerance levels (often, they are very uncomfortable!), how many grass seeds we suspect to require removal, and the grass seed(s) location on the body are all determiners of the treatment plan.

Unfortunately, grass seeds can also migrate (move around the body), making it more challenging to find them. Occasionally, for a very tricky grass seed, advanced imaging such as an ultrasound or CT scan may be necessary to find the exact location, as they can move very quickly. Here is a list of areas commonly affected by grass seeds:


Clinical signs

  • Holding the eye closed
  • Rubbing the eye
  • Redness
  • Weeping
  • Discharge


  • Corneal ulceration (damage to the surface of the eye) may require treatment for several days.
  • Enucleation (eye removal) is necessary in severe cases. However, with fast action, this risk lowers.

Depending on the patient and how accessible the grass seed is, removal may occur in a consult (on a conscious pet) or require sedation to allow safe removal.



Clinical signs

  • Shaking the head excessively
  • Holding the affected ear down (head tilt)
  • Pawing at the ear
  • Redness and inflammation of the ear
  • Secondary ear infection
  • Ruptured eardrum
  • Migration to other areas of the body

Depending on the patient and how accessible the grass seed is, removal may occur in a consult (on a conscious pet) or require sedation to allow safe removal. Some patients may need pain relief and medicated ear drops after removal.



Clinical signs

excessive sneezing
nasal discharge
possibly haemorrhagic (bloody).
Ongoing irritation
Migration to other areas of the body.


Due to how sensitive the nose is, patients typically require a general anaesthetic to remove grass seeds from the nose (otherwise they keep sneezing).



Clinical signs

  • Limping
  • Licking at the paws
  • Draining sinus tract.


  • Ongoing inflammation
  • Infection.
  • Larger migration risk. Seeds in the paw may move under the skin, up the leg, or to the other side of the paw.


Depending on the patient and how accessible the grass seed is, removal may occur in a consult (on a conscious pet, possibly with a local anaesthetic), or they may require sedation to allow safe removal (particularly in cases that require surgical exploration).



Clinical signs

Licking of the area
Matted fur


Migration risk. Seeds may move under the skin into the abdominal or thoracic cavity.


Depending on the patient and how many grass seed tracts are present, this could be done on a conscious patient, under sedation, or may require a general anaesthetic and surgical removal.


Mouth and Throat

Clinical signs

  • Sudden onset coughing
  • Gagging
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty swallowing


  • Inflammation
  • Infection of the gums, leading to dental issues
  • Several migration risks:
  • Seeds may move through the throat tissue.
  • Be swallowed into the abdomen, where further migration is also a possibility.
  • Be inhaled into the lungs, which may require advanced procedures to remove (such as bronchoscopy or occasionally even specialist surgery).


A general anaesthetic is required to check deep in the back of the throat and to allow protection of the airways.



Clinical signs

  • Licking at the prepuce/penis or vulva
  • Blood in urine
  • Pain on urination
  • Genital swelling


  • Secondary urinary tract infection
  • Ongoing pain
  • Irritation
  • Risk of migration


Depending on the location of the grass seed and the animal’s tolerance level, removal may be possible in consult (on a conscious animal) but likely requires sedation or general anaesthetic.


Tips and tricks for avoiding grass seeds:

At home
maintain grass and weeds on the property with regular maintenance. Prevent access to the area if time is needed to organise weeding/mowing, etc.

On walks
Prevent access to dry grass seeds by keeping your pet on a lead and avoiding certain areas, such as dense vegetation.

Roaming cats
Cats who roam are at greater risk of grass seeds as you can’t control which areas they access.

Long haired dogs
A poodle clip around the paws can be helpful for long-haired dogs, as grass seeds love to get stuck in long fur.

Regular inspection by owners
Suppose your dog goes accidentally into an area with grass seeds. In that case, it is essential to check their coat and paws immediately and watch for other clinical signs.

What do you do if you think your pet has a grass seed?
Please call us as soon as possible (or an after-hours vet if needed), as it is best not to wait, particularly with grass seeds in the eye. The longer the grass seed is present, the more risk there is of migration, which can reduce the chances of finding them (particularly in the paws).

Thankfully, in most instances, once we remove the seeds, pets feel instant relief!


Click Here to Read This Month’s Full Newsletter

Click the Link Above the Read This Month's Full Newsletter

Gawler Animal Hospital

Your full-service, high quality, locally-owned veterinary practice.

Offering a wide range of pet-care options from vaccinations up to complex medical and surgical treatments.

Got a question?

Get in touch with us