In the summer months we routinely see seeds embedded in between pads, in ears and even up noses. Not a week goes by without an owner phoning to report that their dog has suddenly starting to shake their head after a walk, or that they’ve noticed a swelling in between their toes that their dog just won’t leave alone.
Grass seeds have pointed ends that allow them to easily burrow into a dog’s fur becoming stuck, causing irritation, inflammation and even infection. The team have been keeping a tally this season, and we have so far removed 31 grass seeds.
We have however seen a few challenging cases of late, which proved more troublesome to remove and treat in general practice. We have had to refer these dogs to a specialist centre, and this lovely Springer Spaniel Tilly was in fact one of them! Read on to find out more about Tilly’s story…
Tilly first presented to us at the start of July. She was struggling to chew harder treats and her mouth was very painful. She was prescribed some medication to make her more comfortable and to revisit if the symptoms persisted or worsened. Unfortunately, a few days later, Tilly was no better and she had now developed a swelling on the right side of her forehead above her eye (see pictured below).
Tilly was admitted for further investigations with Charlotte, the vet on surgery that day. Tilly’s eye was examined, but no ‘foreign body’ (a technical term for anything that gets in where it shouldn’t be) was found under her eyelids or around her eye socket. The inside of her mouth was able to be visualised safely whilst she was under general anaesthetic and Charlotte noticed an area at the back of Tilly’s mouth was producing discharge. Often in the presence of a ‘foreign body’, the body will have an inflammatory reaction, causing swelling, pain, heat, redness and discharge, which I’m sure many of you will have seen if your dog has had a grass seed in between their toes before.
Charlotte went on to perform an ultrasound scan of the swelling above Tilly’s eye and noticed an abnormality of around 1.6cm in length behind the eye. Due to the location of the grass seed being so close to the eye, with a lot of important structures around, it was advised that Tilly go for an emergency referral to the ophthalmology team at Dick White Referrals for treatment.
Tilly’s eye was examined by an ophthalmology specialist, and thankfully her eye was not affected in any way. She underwent an MRI and ultrasound of the swollen area, which confirmed the presence of an abscess, likely due to a migrating grass seed. She was referred internally to the soft tissue department for guided removal of the grass seed by ultrasound.
Here is brave Tilly on the way home once she was discharged from Dick White Referrals, she was feeling a little bit groggy, but hopefully a lot more comfortable! She was restricted to short lead walks only, and had to avoid running and jumping for the next couple of weeks.
Thankfully, Tilly was a star patient and made an amazing recovery, loving life, her fur all grown back, and with her eye looking a bit more normal! It’s amazing the trouble one pesky grass seed can cause!