Please take time to check your dogs over thoroughly every day for grass seeds. Quite a few dogs have been reported in the last couple of weeks with grass seed injuries.  These can quickly enter the body and cause swelling and pain for your dog, not to mention a large vet bill if surgery is needed to locate and remove them.  Feet, legs and ears are particularly susceptible.

Read what happened Lisa Thompson's Beryl last year by clicking on the Read More button . . .

Earlier this week our vet removed more grass seeds ‘than we could count’ from our poor Beryl, having put her under a general anaesthetic. 
 
They extracted them from the places you might expect - paws and the tender ‘armpit’ and ‘groin’ areas. They plucked them from places that make you wince - her vulva. And from those the seasonal warnings don’t mention - under her chin and from her legs. It was, said the vet, the worst case she’d ever seen. 
 
We are of course rightly feeling like unfit owners and no good carers. We’d taken good care to check her for grass seeds, knowing they can gather in the gaps between paws or make their way into ears and eyes. 
 
Beryl gets a thorough check every few days and her head is checked and the parts of her she’ll tolerate attention to are combed daily. We’ve carefully removed three ticks from her this summer alone, and she removed one herself rather less carefully. We constantly fret about snakes as she bounds, like any spinone, through thorny thickets and moorlands. 
 
What we did not realise was quite how vulnerable she was to grass seeds nor how very dangerous they can be. We live in a rural area and have marvelled this year at the sheer diversity of the grasses sprouting up in the fields around us. The torrential rain, after two years of drought, has led to lush growth and grasses we’d never previously seen. 
 
One of this year’s newcomers to the fields we usually use has been false barley. We know now that it, and barren brome, are among the two most dangerous grass seeds for dogs. Like all grass seeds, they are designed like tiny arrows, with a sharp tip, awns to enable penetration and barbs to prevent any backward movement. 
 
It is this that creates the serious threat. We had known that seeds can get trapped, causing a localised infection. What we did not realise was the seeds cannot only penetrate the skin and orifices, once inside your dog any bodily movement will cause them to continue their path.
 
A quick search on the internet revealed dogs whose lungs had been pierced by grass seeds and one paralysed by a seed that reached its spinal cord. The internet isn’t always a reliable source of information but our vet confirmed these stories. She related another recent case where a postmortem had revealed the cause of death to be a grass seed that had penetrated the dog’s heart.
 
Beryl is today leaping around joyfully like the events of the past few days never happened, though her paws are still covered in open wounds and scabs are forming where seeds were plucked or surgically cut from other parts of her body.
 
For my part I now react like a scalded cat to the sight of a grass seed and trying to find any place to walk her where grass isn’t growing either underfoot or in ample abundance alongside has been a nightmare. Yesterday we took her along asphalt paths on a tight leash. Today strictly centrepath along an abandoned railway, competing with cyclists.
 
I have no idea how we are going to manage the next couple of months, particularly given she is used to at least two hours daily of mostly vigorous exercise. Long grass is clearly out of the question but the seeds fly in the faintest gust. And we live in the middle of woods, surrounded by fields - an environment we’d imagined ideal for an adventurous spinone. Tomorrow we’ll try the beach.
 
Most worrying is the very real possibility that the veterinary team missed a seed. I know that at least two passed their minute examination because I found and extracted them on her first night home. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that one or more is threading its way through her. 
 
It’s also a thought I cannot bear to dwell on. Beryl lives for the moment, and she brings utter joy to every moment of ours. The house felt creepily quiet when we returned after taking her for surgery. 
 
I hope my fears are thoroughly unfounded and we can look forward to many more years of muddy floors, sediment on the sofa, slobber on every surface including us, being greeted with blanket in mouth and tail beating, and loud and insistent demands for a post-prandial carrot. 
 
Above all, I hope our experience serves as a timely warning for others. Please keep your lovely spinone off the grass.