Blackpool dog owner is horrified as potentially fatal barbed grass seed is removed from paw

A family pet is recovering after having a Foxtail grass seed removed, and a Fylde Coast vet warns that it could have been fatal if left untreated.

By Lucinda Herbert
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 4th August 2022, 9:48 am

When Marie Stell took her dog to the vet with a swollen paw, she was horrified when he pulled out a long barbed spike ‘the size of a nail’.

Marie had notice that Winson’s paw was causing him pain – it was a bit swollen, and he kept licking it. But she put it down to allergies.

When she took the three-year-old Shih Tsu to Andrew Mellor vets, on Norbreck Road, on Thursday 28 July, she got a shock.

Winston, a three year old Shih Tzu, is recovering after getting a barbed grass seed removed from his paw

Marie, who also cares for her autistic brother, Christopher, said: “Winson’s paw was red raw, like a cut. I watched the vet prise it open with his fingers and pulled out the grass pod. It was completely buried in the skin, I couldn’t see it at all until he opened up this wound”.

Andrew Mellor told us that the grass seed had penetrated the underside of Winston’s foot and only the hair-like ends were visible.

He added: “They were the wrong coloured hairs for Winston so I realised there was something out of place.”

Foxtail is a very coarse type of long grass, with needle-like spikes that don't dissolve in the body.

Winston and the owner's brother, Christopher Stell

In rare cases, seeds travel to the heart muscle and cause damage and infection which can lead to death.

Marie thinks that Winston may have picked up the seed at a spot near Gynn Square, where they’d walked two days earlier.

She said: “There’s some long grass that we tried to avoid, but we think the grass pollen seeds must have blown around.

We just didn’t want it to get caught in his fur, but didn’t imagine for a minute that this would happen.”

Winston's paw, the day before a grass pod was found lodged in the skin.

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When they got home he started licking his paw. “He wouldn’t leave it alone, but he wouldn’t let any of us touch it. We thought it might be an allergy flare up.”

As the vet couldn’t see Winston straight away, Marie took him to the groomers.

Roxie Pearson had been grooming the nervous Shih Tzu since he was a puppy.

Foxtail grass has sharp barbed seeds that can be very harmful to pets. Source: Peta

Roxie, at The Groom Room in the Blackpool Warbreck Pets at Home store, said: “I knew immediately there was something wrong when I saw his paw.

“It was when I was shaving his pads that I noticed how bad the swelling was and that it needed to be referred to an expert vet immediately. ”

Winston is now recovering, with antibiotics.

“As soon as the seed was removed he was much better. He’s even letting us stroke his paw, but it’s still swollen.”

But the vet said he had a very lucky escape.

Andrew said: “The seeds have backwards facing barbs, which helps them catch on to fur to spread them far and wide. If they enter the body they will gradually move into the body by muscles acting upon them, and they can end up in internal organs.”

Marie is grateful to Andrew Mellor for saving her dog, but wants to warn others of the danger.

“I woudn't have even known about it. If your dog is licking their paw a lot, and they might have been near this grass then get it looked at.”