"Millie" - Spaniel with Grass Seed
Grass seeds are notorious for getting into all sorts of unusual places….and often being challenging to find and remove. In my career as a vet I have seen grass seeds in ears, up noses, in tear ducts and eyes, and also causing abscesses in many different places such as feet, legs and under the chin.
The problem with grass seeds is that they are covered with "barbs", which mean that once they pierce the skin, they can only move forwards – the barbs prevent them from moving backwards, hence they rarely come out the same way as they went in.
The classic example is a spaniel, who dashes around in the long grass.Having hairy feet, grass seeds tend to get caught in the hair between the toes. They then advance forwards, work their way in through the skin, and proceed to migrate through her body.
I have seen a case where a grass seed got into a foot and eventually popped out in an abscess at the dog's elbow, having migrated all the way up the dog's leg. In this particular case, 2 separate abscesses had already appeared in the foot, and had been opened and explored under sedation to try to find the offending article, but no seed was found. Eventually the seed was located in the abscess that appeared higher up the leg, several weeks later.
This is a typical case – the seeds can be notoriously hard to find, which is extremely frustrating for both the dog, owner and veterinary surgeon involved! However, when we do manage to locate and remove one, there is a great sense of satisfaction!
My colleague, Agnieszka, had the pleasure last week of successfully removing two separate grass seeds from two different dogs on the same day!One case, Millie, had been seen to be frantically licking her foot 3-4 weeks earlier, but her owner could find nothing in it. When we saw Millie, a discharging swelling had appeared on the front of her foreleg. We sedated her and explored this swelling, and successfully located the offending article, which we assume had entered through the underside of her paw and migrated several inches up her leg. What a relief!