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Working Dogs in Summer

Grass seed issues have been a common daily theme this month with the dried off tall standing feed.

Mucky eyes should be checked for seeds, particularly behind the third eyelid where they can cause a nasty corneal ulcer that will require timely treatment.

Seeds in ears are another common site. Signs include mucky ear canals, a droopy ear or head tilt.

Grass seed abscesses can occur anywhere but between foot pads is the most common site. The sharp tip means seeds penetrate skin easily and the awn usually prevents them moving backwards so they continue to travel. Exploring the site under sedation or general anaesthesia is often required along with treating the infection with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.

Working dogs can also commonly swallow or inhale grass-seeds. These can cause severe chest and or abdominal infections, or the grass seed may continue to travel towards the backline muscles and spine. For grass seeds that have travelled a long way, referral for CT may be recommended to identify the exact location before a surgery plan is made.

Heat Stress

Early signs of heat stress include excessive panting, depression, poor enthusiasm to work or respond to commands. Once the dog has collapsed immediate attention is critical. Completely wet the dog then place it on the back of a ute or buggy and get moving so evaporative cooling is maximised. Consult a vet immediately. Shock fluid therapy is critical to preventing multi-organ damage or failure.

Keep diet fat and protein levels high for dogs in heavy work and always feed in the evening not morning. Don’t forget to worm regularly.


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