The start of the summer months, with the sunshine, long days and holiday atmosphere, brings with it the inevitable seasonal condition of the foreign body tract due to grass seeds.
As you will know, these little barbed seeds, with the ability to get into the ears, eyes, nose and skin of your clients’ pets, are usually straightforward to locate and remove. But, occasionally, there will be that one tract that just will not heal, and instead of an easy visit and a happy pet, it results in another abscess appearing several days after the end of the antibiotics.
Raising awareness of the problems that can arise with grass seeds is essential, and vet professionals are in the fantastic position of being able to educate clients through posters, text and email alerts and, best of all, nurse clinics. These are invaluable at this time of year to show owners what to look for, not only in respect of grass seeds, but also ticks, harvest mites and other issues connected with the summer including dehydration and overheating.
Agria saw many claims for grass seed foreign body in July and August last year, and those were just the claims where the foreign body was identified. Several of these resulted in serious complications when the seed had migrated from the skin, ears and nose to internal structures and organs.
Here are just a few typical claims we’ve handled connected to grass and grass seeds:
April, a three-year-old cat, was taken to her vet with a grass seed stuck under her upper eyelid. She required a local anaesthetic to remove the seed, leaving a shallow ulcer where the seed had been rubbing on the cornea.
Fortunately, due to the rapid removal of the seed, the ulcer resolved rapidly with no scarring. The cost of her treatment came to £244.46.
Ludo, a two-year-old Springer Spaniel, was seen with a two-week history of general lethargy. On physical examination, a mass on the costal arch was observed. Ultrasound revealed a fluid pocket and, when surgery commenced, it was discovered that damage had been done to the rib where the grass seed had lodged at the costophrenic junction. The cost of removing the grass seed on this occasion was £2,849.81.
Tayto, a three-year-old Cockerpoo, was taken to his usual vet for pyrexia and lethargy. Antibiotics saw a slight improvement before he deteriorated. Clinical examination observed a soft swelling on the caudal thorax. CT revealed a foreign body caudomedial to the tenth rib at the costochondral junction. The grass seed had migrated from the nasal passages to the lung and had then lodged in the costochondral junction. Due to additional complications of pneumothorax the total veterinary treatment came to £6,216.97 for this young dog.
Fortunately, under their Agria lifetime policies, all of these owners were able to claim towards the cost of their unexpected treatment. However, had the owners had the opportunity to identify the presence of these grass seeds before they became problematic, they may have been able to remove it from the animal before it was able to migrate.