BY JESSIE MATHEWSON
Local Democracy Reporter
Some days you are the dog. Some days you are the tree up which he cocks his leg.
Apollo the show dog had one of those days when he had an unfortunate encounter with a grass seed.
Not much to howl about, you might think. But this one could have affected his future Crufts career.
Instead, Easipetcare vets in Streatham treated him for a sore eye and removed an inch-long grass awn from under his lower eyelid.
Apollo, a nine-month old Old English sheepdog who recently qualified for Crufts 2020, has the characteristic long hair perfect for picking up seeds and twigs.
His owner is aware of the risks and always checks his ears and paws after a walk to ensure there’s nothing caught in his coat that could harm him.
But Apollo developed a sore eye after a walk in July, and the next day was taken to the vets at Easipetcare in Hermitage Lane, Streatham.
When his eye didn’t get better after an initial course of eye drops, the vets used local anaesthetic drops to numb the eye and found a grass seed deep underneath the lower eyelid of his right eye.
Since then he has appeared at five shows, winning best puppy and first place at the Old English Sheepdog Club Championship Show – “Best Puppy & 1st Place”; first and best in class at the Welsh Kennel Club Championship; best puppy in the Old English Sheepdog Club of Wales; and first in the Kingston Open Show last month.
Julie Knapton, Easipetcare Streatham’s head of practice, said: “Although the grass seed was deep in the eye, Apollo is such a well-behaved dog, vet Katie was able to extract it there and then, giving him immediate relief.”
Grass seeds in the eye can cause long-term problems if left untreated. Julie said: “Dogs’ eyelids are very deep and anything trapped under it can be difficult to see without sedation or a general anaesthetic.
“The seed rubs on the delicate surface of the eye, causing pain, and can lead to ulcers and infection which can scar the eye.
“We are confident Apollo will make a full recovery in time for his Crufts debut.
“Summer is great for getting out on dog walks, but it does present some risks for our four-legged friends. Grass seeds are notorious for getting stuck in ears and paws, and as they have barbs they can work their way in through the skin and travel through the body and can even end up in vital organs.
“Grass seeds may need surgery to remove them before they work their way further into the body. It is less common to see them in the eye.”
The vets urge owners to do a full coat check on their dogs after every walk to remove any seeds, paying close attention to their ears, between their toes, under their armpits and to keep a close eye on their eyes.
This is also a good practice to check for cuts and parasites, such as ticks.
Once a seed has migrated, it can require costly surgery to remove, not to mention the pain and discomfort the dog will be feeling.
The symptoms can include skin swelling, redness, excessive licking, head shaking and closed or weepy eyes.
Easipetcare Streatham is on 0203 621 6114, www.easipetcare.com.