1. Home
  2. /

    Articles
  3. /

    Supervising greyhounds with injuries
Supervising greyhounds with injuries
Greyhound at veterinary clinic. Source: Midjourney

Supervising greyhounds with injuries

It is crucial to possess the necessary abilities and knowledge to prevent, detect, and provide initial medical assistance for injuries to protect the well-being of your greyhounds.

It is not always evident when something is amiss; issues can arise unexpectedly. Even so, in many instances, injuries or illnesses can gradually develop and consequently be easily overlooked or disregarded. If left untreated, they can progress into more significant and potentially career-ending or life-threatening situations.

Only you, as an owner, are in the ideal position to determine what is normal and to observe any changes in each greyhound under your care. The following Fact Sheets have been created based on Dr. Chris Boemo's Injury and Illness Management Workshops.

These Fact Sheets offer guidance on injury prevention as well as making decisions regarding treatment for various conditions or situations. Importantly, they also provide information on when it is necessary to seek veterinary assistance.

Greyhound in high grass. Source: Midjourney
Greyhound in high grass. Source: Midjourney

Grass Seeds

Each year, numerous animals visit their veterinarian due to issues related to grass seeds. During warm and wet spring conditions, grass growth thrives, but as summer arrives and the grasses dry out, problems associated with grass seeds tend to increase.

Grass seeds, also known as "awns," come in various shapes and sizes. One of the most common culprits behind these issues is the seed from Barley Grass. This particular seed possesses a solid and pointed tip, accompanied by awns that spread out like a wedge. The sharp tip enables it to easily penetrate the skin, while the fanned-out awns restrict its movement to a forward direction only, similar to the action of a fish hook's tip.

Where are grass seed issues likely to occur?

Eyes

Grass seeds can be difficult to detect when they become lodged in the space between a dog's eyelid and the eye or behind the third eyelid. If you notice your greyhound squinting or rubbing its eye, it's possible that a grass seed is causing the problem. Examine the eye under good lighting and gently open the eyelids.

If you can see a grass seed, you may be able to remove it by carefully grasping it with your fingers or rolling it out using the dog's eyelids. If you can't see anything but the dog is still experiencing discomfort, it is important to have a veterinarian examine the eye promptly. The seeds and other foreign objects can irritate the dog's cornea and carry bacteria, potentially leading to the development of ulcers and conjunctivitis. In severe cases, this can result in further eye damage or even the loss of the eye.

Ears

Even if you successfully remove a seed from your dog's eye, it is advisable to have a vet check the eye to ensure that no damage has occurred as a result.

When grass seeds enter a dog's ear, they often cause the dog to shake its head or scratch at the ear due to the discomfort caused by the sharp parts of the seed irritating the ear canal lining. While shaking may occasionally dislodge the seed, most cases require a veterinarian to remove the seed(s) using a specialised instrument designed for safe access to the ear canal.

If left untreated, an ear infection can develop, or the seed may penetrate the eardrum and enter the middle ear, which can be extremely serious and painful. Additionally, the forceful head shaking can sometimes damage the blood vessels in the soft ear flap, leading to swelling and the formation of a large blood blister known as an Aural Haematoma. This condition can develop rapidly and may require drainage and treatment by a veterinarian.

Toes and feet

One of the most frequently observed issues among veterinarians is the occurrence of grass seeds becoming lodged in a dog's foot. While breeds with ample hair between their toes are more susceptible to this problem, it can affect any breed, including greyhounds. This situation arises when a dog steps on a grass seed, which then becomes trapped underneath the foot or between the toes. If the seed goes unnoticed or is not removed, it can penetrate the skin and begin to migrate within the space between the tendons and ligaments. Due to the shape of the seed, it can only move forward and not backward. As the grass seed irritates the body, it often carries soil and bacteria into the dog's system, setting the stage for an infection. Typically, the first sign noticed by the owner is swelling, usually above the area where the toes connect at the top of the foot, or a moist hole that the dog persistently licks and chews. The dog may experience lameness, and in severe cases of infection, it may display symptoms of overall illness or fever.

This issue poses a significant challenge for veterinarians because the only solution is to remove the grass seed, which is not a simple task. In some cases, if the dog is cooperative, the seed can be extracted during a veterinary visit, but certain dogs may require sedation to allow the vet to locate the seed. While administering antibiotics can help reduce the infection, if the seed remains, the swelling and infection will likely return. The vet faces a dilemma because the seed may have already been expelled when an abscess bursts, but it is impossible to determine this through visual examination alone. Occasionally, despite thorough probing of the wound, the vet may not find a seed. However, if the problem reoccurs at the same site within a few weeks, it suggests that the original seed may still be present.

Fortunately, most grass seeds typically enter through the underside of the foot and emerge from the top, but certain seeds have been known to gradually migrate up the leg, leading to recurrent swelling and infection at various sites along the leg.

Inhalation & Ingestion

Dogs can also encounter grass seeds in other ways. For instance, when they run through tall grass, there is a chance of inhaling a grass seed. Additionally, dogs can accidentally ingest grass seeds while grooming themselves, chewing on their coats, or consuming food from the ground. Grass seeds that find their way into the lungs or airways pose a particularly dangerous risk because they are difficult to detect, and symptoms may only appear later in the infection. The dog might appear healthy initially but suddenly exhibit signs of a chest infection, pneumonia, or a collapsed lung, even without any prior respiratory issues. The veterinarian can only observe the infection and lung damage, and in some cases, the dog may pass away before the underlying cause is identified.

Greyhound dog in high grass. Source: Midjourney
Greyhound dog in high grass. Source: Midjourney

What can be done?

When grass seeds are swallowed and reach the stomach, they are generally broken down through digestion. Notwithstanding, there is a possibility for a seed to penetrate the digestive tract and cause damage or infection in the surrounding tissues and organs before being fully digested. These seeds can end up in various locations, and the specific signs and symptoms will depend on where they cause harm or infection.

To safeguard your dog against grass seeds, it is important to be extra cautious during the months when they pose the highest risk, typically from late spring to the end of summer. To minimise your dog's exposure to seeds, it is advisable to maintain your home's grass and weed growth by regularly mowing and removing them.

When taking your greyhound for a walk, it is recommended to avoid areas with long grass. This should not be difficult since greyhounds are typically required to be on a leash in public places. If you happen to visit a private "off-leash" area with your greyhounds, ensure that there is no long grass present.

After returning home from a walk, thoroughly check your greyhound for any grass seeds and promptly remove them to prevent complications. Pay close attention to areas such as between the toes, under the feet, and in other crevices like under the tail or collar, where grass seeds can become trapped.

If your dog exhibits repeated head shaking or engages in excessive chewing, licking, or rubbing of a specific area, conduct a comprehensive examination right away. If you are uncertain about the situation, it is advisable to seek advice from your veterinarian. Often, an early visit to the vet can save you significant expenses in the long term.

Share

Get the latest news to your inbox.

Subscribe to the newsletter

We value your privacy and promise not to distribute your email to third parties.