Joker's Sore Eye

Meet Joker, a 6-year-old Pit Bull X whose owners noticed had developed a very sore eye overnight. Joker’s owners did the right thing by bringing him in to see his veterinarian swiftly. Eye conditions can rapidly deteriorate and should not be kept waiting.

Upon examination, Joker’s eye was very inflamed, painful, had lots of discharge and seemed to have swelling under the top eyelid. Joker was given a mild sedation to allow a more in-depth examination. The vet was able to lift up the upper eyelid to see underneath and guess what they found… not one, but three, large grass seeds! The team applied local anaesthetic to the eye so Joker did not feel any pain and the grass seeds were carefully extracted while ensuring they were not embedded in any important structures.

Grass seeds, or foxtails, are arrowhead-shaped seeds designed to attach to animals for further spread. In Adelaide, grass seed season typically occurs in spring and summer. Grass seeds can become lodged anywhere throughout the body, but the most common places are the paw (especially between the toes), the ears, the nose and the eyes. Grass seeds lodged in a dog’s eye tend to look like any severe conjunctivitis or eye infection. However, if they are not removed promptly by a trained veterinarian, they can cause serious damage to the cornea (the transparent front part of the eye).

If you ever see a grass seed in your pet's eye, please never attempt to remove it, even if you can grip it. Grass seeds removed the wrong way can severely injury the eye and cause significant pain to your pet.

Prevention of grass seeds can be difficult. In areas such as the eyes, nose and ears the only way of prevention is to keep pets away from long grasses and unkept areas, but even that does not offer 100% protection. For the paws, it is really important to check between each of your dog’s toes and underneath the paws after every walk to ensure no grass seeds have become lodged there. And of course, if you are ever concerned your pet has a grass seed, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

Written by Dr Emily Dearsley - Veterinarian

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