THE time of grass seeds causing problems is almost upon us again. Grass seeds cause all kinds of problems in dogs and other animals because of their tendency to stick in places they are not meant to go. Grass seeds are often retrieved from under the skin, between the toes and out of the external ear canal. They cause local irritation and then infection by carrying bacteria into places that should be sterile. Dogs will shake their heads as a cause of this irritation when they have a seed in their ear or walk with their head tilted to one side. Grass seeds under the skin cause abscesses that are seen as a lump that may or may not be draining pus or bloody fluid. Dogs will often lick at these areas alerting you to a problem. Grass seeds have also been retrieved from the oral cavity (stuck next to teeth), the nasal cavity, the urogenital tract (prepuce, urethra, vulva) and from within the abdomen and chest cavities. Dogs can inhale grass seeds into the airways of their lungs as well. It is best to retrieve grass seeds promptly before they have a chance to set up an abscess or ear infection. They tend to burrow like a fish hook where they can only travel inwards and not backwards. Once they have moved away from the original site of entry they can be very frustrating to track and find. Prevention of grass seed problems should be aimed at keeping dogs on leads where grass seeds exist (eg long grass on farms or at the edge of parks), keeping grass short (not allowing it to seed) and monitoring and checking for any sign of seeds (commonly ears, nose, mouth, armpits and groin).