If you have a dog and live in a place with high grasses, chances are you’ve heard of or had a run in with foxtails. Foxtails are a grass-like weed whose barbed seeds attach and burrow into your pet. Yes, you read that right. Foxtails don’t just cling to fur: they can go in your pet’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth in addition to burrowing into paws and fur. The clincher about foxtails is that they only recede backward further into the area, they never extract themselves! That’s what makes them dangerous, especially if ingested. What’s more, these seeds don’t break down naturally so they can cause serious infection if not removed.
What Can You Do?
Foxtail season is typically from May-December. If you and your dog venture through a grassy area, give them a once over either before you get in the car or at home. Check their eyes, ears, feet, nose, and genitals. If you see excessive licking, scratching, or discharge from any of these areas, chances are it’s a foxtail and, depending on the area, it will need veterinary attention.
Things to Remember…
Curly and long-haired dogs are more susceptible to getting foxtails in their fur so be sure to check around their face, ears, mouth, and paw pads – if you see any foxtails, immediately and carefully remove them with tweezers. If the foxtail is deeply embedded, swollen, or in an orifice you cannot safely remove it from, call your veterinarian. Remember that no matter where it is, foxtails MUST be removed to avoid a bigger issue.
As far as prevention goes, the most proactive thing you can do is avoid high grassy areas during foxtail season, which may be near impossible in some areas of the country. You can also consider trimming your long-haired dog during the season, as that will make it easier to see and remove the little buggers.
Don’t let a fun walk or hike turn into a painful infection or vet bill, be sure to survey your pet as soon as you get home to remove any foxtails as soon as possible. Do you have a foxtail story you’d like to share? We know our dog-loving Facebook community would love to know more.