Who knew tiny grass seed could cause such a big problem?
Few pet owners are aware of the dangers of grass seed until after the damage is done.
While grass seed is typically impervious to your pet, these small, pointy seeds may cause harm when they’re ingested, inhaled, or embedded in the skin. The dangers range from minor swelling and irritation to life-threatening complications.
Although grass seed can pose a threat to your furry friends, it’s easy to lower the chances of injury with a few simple methods and some basic knowledge.
We’ll walk you through the signs and symptoms to look for if your dog has been harmed by grass seed, as well as provide tips to avoid unnecessary stress and trips to the vet.
How Can Grass Seed Harm My Dog?
As a loving, devoted pet parent, you always want the best for your dog, including a rich, healthy lawn and plush outdoor space for playing and lounging.
Although you’re creating a better environment for your beloved pooch, grass seed could unintentionally cause harm to your dog.
Grass seed is typically 1-2 cm and shaped like an arrow or dart but varies in shape and size based on the grass type.
The sharp, pointed edge enables the seeds to embed into the soil for germination.
However, this unique shape makes it easier to latch into your pup’s skin, eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and feet.
Similar to humans, a dog’s body will react to a foreign object such as a grass seed and attempt to expel the unwelcomed matter.
Grass seeds may carry bacteria or cause an open wound letting outside bacteria and germs into their body, leading to infection.
Furthermore, grass seed is extremely difficult to detect as it doesn’t show up on an X-Ray.
This makes it more difficult for your vet to determine a course of action and could lead to invasive surgery to remove the seed in the worst-case scenario.
What Happens If My Dog Eats Grass Seed?
If your dog is prone to scavenging, chewing, and eating off-limits food, you’re likely concerned about your dog ingesting grass seed.
While some risks are associated with a dog eating grass seed, a noncoated grass seed poses little risk to your pup.
Dogs can digest organic grass seeds, but the prickly end of the grass seed could puncture the throat or digestive tract leading to infection or other complications.
However, you have a reason for alarm if you suspect your dog has ingested a coated seed.
Coated grass seeds have chemicals such as fertilizer, herbicides, or pesticides, which help the grass seed grow and develop.
If you suspect your dog has ingested toxic grass seed or other harmful chemicals, monitor your pet for the following symptoms of chemical poisoning.
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Abnormal heartbeat
Act quickly if you suspect your pet has ingested grass seed with toxic chemicals.
Reach out to your vet immediately if your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms.
Poison Control is also available 24/7—Call 1-800-222-1222 for expert free advice.
What Happens If My Dog Inhales Grass Seed?
A dog’s extraordinary sense of smell has been known to save lives in rescue missions, but their sniffer could cause problems if grass seed is around.
If your dog loves to search for new scents and always has its snout to the ground, you may be concerned about your pooch inhaling grass seed.
Inhaled grass seed could travel through the respiratory system and into the lungs, causing life-threatening complications such as pneumonia or infection.
If you notice excessive sneezing, pawing at the nose, or bloody nasal discharge, your dog may have a grass seed stuck in its snout.
If symptoms persist or your pet has trouble breathing, contact your vet for further evaluation.
What happens if grass seed breaks my dog’s skin?
Grass seeds are dangerous to dogs in various ways, but the most common injury occurs when the seed becomes embedded into your dog’s skin or external organs, such as the eye or ear canal.
These small, pointy seeds can latch into your dog’s skin, causing infections and abscesses.
These seeds can migrate through your pet’s body in extreme circumstances, causing severe pain, tissue damage, and other complications.
Search for signs of pain and discomfort such as excessive scratching or licking, swelling, or redness if you’re worried your dog has picked up a pesky grass seed.
Symptoms will vary based on the area and severity of pain.
Dogs and Grass Seed: Common Symptoms & Consequences
If you’re concerned your dog has an embedded, inhaled, or ingested grass seed, refer to the chart below for some helpful information or contact your vet for further evaluation.
|Feet or Paws|
|Mouth & Throat|
|Nose & Lungs|
Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe from Grass Seed
Whether you’re concerned about exposure to grass seed in public spaces or your yard, follow the tips below to keep your 4-legged friend free of grass seed.
- Avoid grassy areas in late spring and early summer months.
- Avoid outdoor spaces with tall grass.
- Check fur for grass seeds after walks. Ensure to check the following areas: paws, eyes, ears, nose, armpits & groin.
- Regularly groom your dog and keep its fur neat and short to prevent matted hair.
- Brush your dog daily, especially after outdoor playtime, walks, and bathroom breaks.
- Keep your lawn mowed and remove weeds and other debris from your yard.
- Put a protective barrier on your pup, such as a doggy vest or jacket if it’s not too hot. (This even gives you an excuse to buy the adorable dog tee you’ve been eying.)
Tips to Help Your Dog & Newly Seeded Lawn Flourish
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re concerned about the livelihood of both your dog and your lawn.
Not only is grass seed potentially harmful to dogs, but your dogs are also potentially harmful to your grass seed.
Although grass seedlings may seem tough, they’re quite delicate and require low foot traffic while establishing.
Whether you’re spot treating damaged areas or building a lawn from scratch, we recommend keeping pets off newly seeded areas for 4-6 weeks after germination until the grass has taken root.
Here are some other tips and tricks to keep your pooch and your lawn happy and healthy:
- Carefully read and follow label directions for grass seed and other lawn products.
- Take your dog on leashed walks around the neighborhood or to a local park.
- Take your pet to a dog park with artificial turf.
- Break up clumps of grass seed or sod to discourage chewing or eating.
- Keep remaining grass seed in a secure place.
- Choose a pet-friendly grass seed.
Pet-Friendly Grass Seed and Lawn Products
When it comes to finding a “pet-friendly” grass seed, the options may seem daunting.
Many grass seed and other lawn products aren’t marketed as “pet-friendly,” or the pet-friendly options might be specific to a particular climate or grass type.
An ideal choice for pet owners would be a noncoated, organic grass seed to ensure they aren’t loading their yard with tiny poisonous darts.
These seeds still risk embedding into the skin or tissue but don’t carry the deadly chemicals found in coated seeds loaded with pesticides, fertilizer, and wetting agents.
However, organic seeds typically take longer to germinate than other varieties, so keep this in mind when deciding which product is right for you.
In addition to choosing the correct grass seed, you’ll also want to make sure you choose a grass type with deep roots, a fast growth rate, and resistance to heavy foot traffic.
We’ve already compiled a guide to growing grass with dogs and the top 7 grass types for dogs, so check those out for more information.
Below you’ll also find some of our favorite pet-friendly grass seeds and other products to keep your lawn in tip-top shape.
Nature’s Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Seed: Blue Ribbon Blend
Nature’s Seed specializes in natural grass seed and related products for lawns and livestock pastures.
The Blue Ribbon blend is free of filler and contains 6 varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass to create a dense, luxurious lawn.
This combination of grasses will hold up to heavy foot traffic exceptionally well, making it the perfect choice for your rambunctious pup.
This blend performs best in the northern US, where the temperature is cooler.
Jonathan Green Black Beauty Ultra Grass Seed
Another grass seed blend with an excellent reputation is Jonathan Green Black Beauty Ultra Grass Seed.
Jonathan Green boasts a history of creating exceptional grass seed blends which are safe for you and your 4-legged friend(s).
This product contains a blend of Tall Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass to create a lush, dark green lawn.
This blend has excellent sun, shade, and drought tolerance, as well as natural disease and insect resistance.
Scotts EZ Seed Dog Spot Repair Tall Fescue
While this product isn’t meant to cover your entire lawn, Scotts EX Seed Dog Spot Repair is an excellent choice for pet parents looking to cover damaged spots.
This product contains a combination of mulch, grass seed, and soil to repair spots caused by urine, traffic, and digging in a few simple steps.
However, your lawn may look a bit spotty if your grass isn’t tall fescue or some combination of tall fescue and other grass varieties.
Purely Organic Lawn Food
If you’re using a pet-friendly, noncoated seed, you’ll likely want to find an organic fertilizer to help your lawn grass grow and flourish.
Purely Organic Lawn Food is a natural fertilizer free of harsh chemicals and smells.
This easy-to-use product comprises plant-based ingredients such as distillers, grain, and soy, so your pets can reenter the area immediately after application.