PRECIOUS pets are fronting up for treatment at local vet clinics, as sharp and pesky barley grass seeds take over backyards and paddocks across the region.
Dr Stephanie Sheppeard works at Greencross Vets South Tamworth, and said the centre had already seen about a dozen doggy patients for grass seed removal this spring.
A recent case was a local Border Collie pup, Pippi, who had to go under anaesthetic to have dozens of barley grass seeds removed from where they had become trapped in her paws, mouth and ears.
"The grass seeds can cause disease and irritation ... but if they're left in there they can do some really serious damage," Dr Sheppeard told the Leader.
"Grass seeds can migrate through tissue, because of the horns on it, it likes to move forward but not backwards."
Dr Sheppeard said sometimes the dog's skin can become infected, or in really serious cases, can cause infection in things like the chest cavity or an eardrum to burst.
"It's definitely a problem, particularly when people haven't been able to keep up with mowing or slashing ... and the heads tend to be down at dog height when they run through the grass," she said.
"It's very important to see a vet, the sooner the better, to prevent unnecessary tissue trauma or pain for the animal."
Dr Sheppeard said most seeds can be removed quite easily, and owners should keep an eye out for symptoms like pooches shaking their heads, or having sore paws.
Pursehouse Rural Quirindi agronomist Andrew Thomson told the Leader barley grass was running wild across the region this spring.
"Barley grass is a little grass that's all going to seed right now, and the heads are quite sharp," he said.
"You get more in wetter years ... and it's a big year for it this year."
Mr Thomson said the grass grows green and luscious during winter, before browning off and forming seeds later in the year.