Veterinary practice Laakkwartier

The danger of grass eels!

The danger of grass eels!

At this time of year, grass hairs are plentiful again. These grass hairs, also known as 'crawlers', can cause annoying problems for your pet. Especially dogs, but also cats and other animals can be bothered by grass hairs.

When wild grass comes into flower, grass hairs form. Grass ears are the seeds of the grass. These spikes are most commonly seen in the period from June to August. At first, they are green, but when they dry out, they turn a yellow colour and fall apart in loose seeds.

Grass hairs have barbs. These are the long 'spines' that stick out of the ear. Thanks to these barbs, the spikes easily stay in your pet's fur. The barbs and seeds of the spikes can also get into the nose, ears and eyes of your pet and even penetrate the skin.

In the nose:

If your animal gets a grass hair in its nose, it will start sneezing and coughing. Thanks to the barbs, a grass hair can only move in one direction. As a result, it will crawl further and further into the nasal cavity. It is therefore important that the ear is quickly removed by the vet.t. 

In the ear:

A spider can get into your animal's ear and crawl deeper and deeper. Your animal will then shake its head and ears, because this is very painful for it. He can also rub his ears against other things. The biggest risk is for animals with bigger, hanging ears and a lot of hair. If the ear hair is not removed, it will move further and further into the ear canal and may eventually pierce the eardrum.

Never try to remove a grass cataract from the ear yourself, but make an appointment with the vet.

In the eye:

If a seed or a barb of the grass cat has got into the eye, the animal will pinch the eye and maybe try to rub it with its paw. If this is the case, it is important to make an appointment with the vet as soon as possible. The spike can damage the cornea. To prevent permanent damage, damage to the eye should be treated quickly.

In the leg / in the skin:

Grass hairs can penetrate the skin because the barbs are very sharp. A well-known problem is that grass ears get stuck between the toes of an animal, after which the spines pierce through the skin. Also in other places grass hairs can get stuck in the fur and eventually pierce the skin.

Animals may scratch or lick the spot where the grass hair has entered the body because the skin is irritated and/or sore. An invaded barb may also eventually lead to inflammation, with or without an abscess.

Do you see a spike on the fur or between the toes? Then you can carefully try to remove it yourself. Make sure that no barbs remain in the skin. If they are, grab these barbs as close to the skin as possible and gently pull them out. If this does not work, make an appointment with our veterinarian to have the spines removed.


Prevention is better than cure!

But how do you prevent those nasty grass hairs from attacking your dog? You can never completely prevent it. Here are a few tips on how to intercept grass hairs early on:

  • Always watch where your dog is walking, especially in an off-leash area. There is a greater chance of your dog getting a grass ear when it is running through the high grass.
  • Check the coat regularly when you have been in a 'risk area'. Pick up your dog's leg and check for unusual spots. Also check the armpits, groin, ears and nostrils.
  • Should it already be too late and does your dog already suffer from a grass hair, then you can - if it is easy to do - try to remove it yourself. Do this only when you are sure that it succeeds! Make sure that the complete plume and all remnants are removed.
  • Finally, it is always wise to brush or comb your dog well after walking. This way you always take along dirt and possible grasaren in the comb.