Vets remind dog owners of the risks of long grass

Davies Veterinary Specialists

Anaesthesia, Ophthalmology

10th October 2022

Nala, a Tibetan terrier puppy who needed specialist surgery to remove a grass awn from her eye, has prompted Davies Veterinary Specialists (Davies) to remind dog owners of the potential risks to their dogs of exercising in long grass.

Grass awns and seeds can be dangerous to dogs in a number of ways.  With their sharp, pointed ends they can easily penetrate eyes and ears, potentially causing pain and damage. They can also get trapped in the fur or lodged under the skin so it is recommended to check dogs from top to toe for lodged seeds or awns, after every walk.

Nala, who is just five months old, had enjoyed a good run through a grassy field but the following day her owner noticed that she had a sore right eye and took her to their local veterinary practice. They suspected a focal corneal injury and associated infection so advised referral for ophthalmological investigations at Davies, which is a part of veterinary group Linnaeus.

“On examination Nala’s right eye was clearly uncomfortable, being held tightly shut,” said Davies Ophthalmologist Rachel Lockhart. “Once the eye was relaxed with topical anaesthetic it was possible to identify a thin, linear foreign body, a suspected grass awn or thorn, running obliquely through the cornea of the right eye with its external tip sitting just proud of the corneal surface.  The surrounding cornea was cloudy and the inside of the eye inflamed but after careful examination using a hand-held microscope it was suspected that the foreign body had penetrated all the way through the cornea.”

Nala was given a general anaesthetic and taken to the ophthalmic operating theatre for surgery.  With the aid of an operating microscope and microsurgical instruments the foreign body was gently extruded from the site of penetration. This revealed a 1.5 cm long piece of grass awn which lay obliquely through the cornea.  The majority of the grass awn had been lying within the front chamber of the eye but was obscured from view by the surrounding reaction.  Thankfully no deeper injury was identified.  Once the grass awn was removed the resultant corneal defect was repaired with a conjunctival pedicle graft to supply tectonic support and a direct blood supply to aid corneal healing.

Nala made an uneventful recovery from anaesthesia and, after a comfortable night in the hospital ward, was discharged back to her owner the following morning.  So far, she has made good progress post-operatively with no lasting after-effects apart from a small corneal scar which is causing her no concern at all.

“Nala was seen within hours and operated on the same day and her speedy recovery is testament to the expertise the team at Davies have,” said Nala’s owner Ella Sims. “They went above and beyond, to not only care for Nala but to also keep me in the loop, understanding how horrible it can be as a pet owner when your pet is in pain and hurt.”

Davies has put together some tips for the protection and care of dogs’ eyes:

  • Try to avoid walking your dog through long, dry seeded grasses or crops.
  • Don’t pull anything out of the eye- you will almost certainly do more damage.
  • Don’t give your pet any treats or a meal as may require an urgent anaesthetic.
  • Do fit a buster collar if you have one or can borrow one, to prevent self-trauma.
  • Do get to your vets asap.
  • Do save any fragments of whatever went into the eye as it could be helpful to the vet to direct the pet’s treatment.

To find out more about Davies visit

Linnaeus Veterinary Limited trading as Davies Veterinary Specialists 01582 883950

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