Dog Grass Seed in Paw, Nose and Ear

icon May 22, 2023

What are Grass Seeds in Dogs?

Grass seeds, also known as grass awns or foxtails, are a common concern for dog owners. Grass seeds are the sharp, pointed structures found on certain types of grasses, particularly in the flowering stage. They have a barbed structure that allows them to attach to animals or objects and get carried to different locations.

When dogs come into contact with grass seeds, they can become lodged in their fur, paws, ears, nose, or even between their toes. The barbed structure of grass seeds makes them prone to burrowing into the skin or entering body openings, leading to potential health issues. Below is a list of symptoms, possible complications, and what to do/not to do depending on the location of the grass seed.

If a dog gets a grass seed stuck in its paw, ear, nose, or eye, it can cause discomfort and potentially lead to various symptoms.

1. Grass Seed in a Dogs Skin


  • Persistent licking, scratching, or biting at a particular area of the skin.
  • Redness, swelling, or inflammation around the affected area.
  • Formation of a lump or abscess.
  • Pus or discharge coming from the affected area.

Possible Complications

  • Infection: The puncture wound created by the grass seed can become infected, leading to further discomfort and the potential spread of infection.
  • Migration: In some cases, the grass seed can migrate deeper into the skin, making it more challenging to remove.
  • Abscess formation: If the grass seed is not removed promptly, it can lead to the development of an abscess—a pocket of pus surrounded by inflamed tissue.


  • Examination: Carefully inspect the affected area to locate the grass seed. If it is visible and you feel confident in removing it yourself, proceed with caution. However, if the seed is deeply embedded or causing significant discomfort, it's best to consult a veterinarian.
  • Tweezers: Using clean tweezers, gently grasp the grass seed as close to the entry point as possible. Slowly and steadily pull it out in the same direction it entered the skin. Be cautious not to break the seed or push it deeper.
  • Cleaning: Once the grass seed is removed, clean the area with a mild antiseptic solution recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Veterinary visit: If you're unable to locate or remove the grass seed or if your dog's symptoms worsen or persist, consult your veterinarian. They have the expertise and tools necessary to safely remove the seed and treat any complications.
  • Antibiotics: In cases where the skin is infected or an abscess has formed, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics or skin spray to combat the infection.

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2. Grass Seed in Dog Paw


  • Limping or favoring the affected paw
  • Excessive licking or biting at the paw
  • Redness, swelling, or tenderness around the area
  • Discharge or pus if the seed has caused an infection

Possible Complications

If a grass seed penetrates the skin, it can cause inflammation, redness, swelling, and discomfort. In some cases, it may lead to infection.


  • Examine the paw: Gently inspect the affected paw to locate the grass seed. Be cautious and ensure your dog is comfortable during the process.
  • Clean the area: Before attempting to remove the grass seed, clean the area around it with a mild antiseptic solution or warm water and gentle soap. This helps reduce the risk of infection.
  • Remove the grass seed: Use clean tweezers or forceps to carefully grasp the grass seed. Be gentle and ensure you remove the entire seed.
  • Monitor for signs of infection: After removing the grass seed, keep an eye on the paw for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, discharge, or increased pain. If you notice any concerning symptoms, contact your veterinarian.
  • Provide comfort: To soothe your dog's paw, you can apply a cool compress or soak the paw in a mixture of warm water and Epsom salt. Ensure the water is lukewarm and not hot, and let your dog's paw soak for a few minutes.
  • Prevent licking and further irritation: Dogs may be inclined to lick their paws, which can introduce bacteria and hinder healing. Consider using a protective cone or an e-collar to prevent your dog from accessing the area and aggravating the wound.

Watch out for grass seeds! | WVC

3. Dog Grass Seed in Ear


  • Frequent scratching or pawing at the ear
  • Shaking the head or tilting it to one side
  • Discharge or foul odor coming from the ear
  • Increased sensitivity or pain when the ear is touched

Possible Complications

 Dogs can get grass seeds stuck in their ear canals, leading to pain, shaking of the head, and ear infections.


Do not attempt to remove the grass seed yourself

It's crucial to avoid trying to remove the grass seed from your dog's ear on your own. The ear canal is delicate, and you could accidentally push the seed deeper or cause injury. Seek professional veterinary assistance instead.

Visit a veterinarian

Take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. They have the necessary tools and expertise to safely examine the ear and remove the grass seed. They may use an otoscope to visualize the ear canal and specialized forceps or tools to extract the seed.

RSPCA ACT - Grass seeds are a common problem with pets during Summer. They  can cause incredible discomfort, infection and in severe cases even death.  The pointed end of the grass seed

4. Dog Grass Seed in Nose


  • Sneezing or reverse sneezing (snorting)
  • Nasal discharge, which may be clear or bloody
  • Frequent pawing at the nose or face
  • Difficulty breathing or snoring sounds

Possible Complications

Inhaled grass seeds can cause irritation and respiratory problems if they get lodged in the nose or throat.


  • Keep your dog's nose clean: Gently wipe the outside of your dog's nose with a clean, damp cloth to remove any dirt or discharge. Do not attempt to remove the grass seed yourself, as you could unintentionally push it further into the nasal passage.
  • Prevent your dog from further irritation: Try to discourage your dog from pawing at its nose or rubbing it against surfaces, as this can worsen the irritation and potentially cause injury.
  • Seek veterinary care: Contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic for guidance. They will be able to provide the appropriate treatment, which may include sedation or anesthesia to safely remove the grass seed.

My dog has a swollen face | FirstVet

4. Dog Grass Seed in Eye


  • Blinking excessively or squinting
  • Redness or swelling around the eye
  • Watery or thick discharge from the eye
  • Pawing at the eye or rubbing it against objects

Possible Complications

Grass seeds can also get into a dog's eyes, causing irritation, redness, tearing, and potentially corneal ulcers or other eye injuries.


  • Stay calm: It's important to approach your dog calmly to avoid causing further distress.
  • Examine the eye: If you can safely and gently inspect the eye, look for any visible signs of grass seed. Be extremely cautious not to touch or further irritate the eye.
  • Prevent rubbing: Try to prevent your dog from rubbing or scratching the affected eye, as this can worsen the situation.

Remember, only a qualified veterinarian can provide the proper diagnosis and treatment for your dog's eye condition. It's important not to attempt to remove the grass seed yourself, as this could potentially cause further damage to the eye.

TVM UK Animal Health on Twitter: "Grass seed: the almost invisible enemy  for your pets! They can cause a lot of harm for something so small, so  always check your dog thoroughly (

How to Prevent Grass Seeds in Dogs?

Preventing grass seeds from getting embedded in a dog's fur and skin is important as they can cause discomfort, irritation, and even infection. Here are some measures you can take to prevent grass seeds in dogs:

  • Regular grooming: Keep your dog's coat well-groomed and trimmed, especially in areas with long hair, such as the paws, ears, and armpits. Trimming the hair reduces the chances of grass seeds getting entangled and helps in easy detection and removal.
  • Check for grass seeds: After every walk or outdoor activity, inspect your dog's coat, paying close attention to the paws, ears, and any other areas where seeds can easily get trapped. Run your hands gently over your dog's fur, feeling for any unusual lumps or rough patches.
  • Protective clothing: If you live in an area with a high incidence of grass seeds, consider using protective clothing such as dog boots or socks to cover your dog's paws. This can help prevent grass seeds from getting stuck between the toes.
  • Avoid high-risk areas: Be mindful of areas with long grass, weeds, or areas where grass seeds are prevalent, especially during certain seasons. Restricting your dog's access to such areas or keeping them on a leash can minimize the risk.
  • Use a detangling spray: Applying a detangling spray or conditioner to your dog's coat before outdoor activities can help make their fur less prone to entanglement with grass seeds. This can make it easier to remove any seeds that do manage to stick.
  • Prompt removal of grass seeds: If you do find a grass seed stuck in your dog's fur or skin, remove it promptly. Use a pair of tweezers or your fingers, ensuring that you extract the entire seed. If you're unsure or uncomfortable doing it yourself, consult a veterinarian for assistance.


Is Grass Seed Toxic to Dogs?

Grass seeds themselves are not typically toxic to dogs. However, if a dog ingests a large quantity of grass seeds, it can lead to digestive issues such as an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea. Additionally, some grass seeds may have sharp awns or barbs that can cause physical irritation or injury if they become lodged in the dog's mouth, throat, or gastrointestinal tract.

The main concern with grass seeds and dogs is when they become embedded in the skin or enter the ears, nose, or other body openings. As mentioned earlier, this can lead to discomfort, infection, and potential complications.

Can Grass Seed Cause an Abscess on a Dog?

Yes, grass seeds can potentially cause an abscess in dogs. When a grass seed becomes embedded in a dog's skin, it can introduce bacteria into the tissue, leading to an infection. If left untreated, the infection can progress, resulting in the formation of an abscess.

An abscess is a localized collection of pus that forms within a tissue. It typically appears as a swollen, painful lump filled with fluid or pus. If a grass seed remains in the dog's skin for an extended period, the body's immune response may encapsulate it, forming an abscess around the seed.


The presence of an abscess often indicates that the body is attempting to contain and eliminate the foreign object or bacteria. Abscesses can be painful for the dog and may require veterinary attention for proper treatment, such as draining the abscess and providing appropriate antibiotics to clear the infection.

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