Foxtail Grass and Your Dog

Your dog should avoid coming into contact with foxtail plants. The prickly seed heads of the foxtail plant have the potential to embed themselves in any area of your canine or feline companion’s body, including the nose, between the toes, the ears, the eyes, and the mouth. They can even just dig themselves right into an area of skin if they choose to.

The foxtail plant is a weed that resembles grass. The western portion of the United States is where you will find the majority of it.

The annoyance caused by foxtails is only the beginning of the risk they pose. A foxtail that becomes embedded in your dog’s body might create a dangerous infection because the stiff seeds of the foxtail do not break down inside the body. If treatment is not received, it can result in death. It may be difficult to locate the seeds in the fur of your dog.

Therefore, how can you determine whether or not your canine companion is suffering from the effects of a foxtail? Should you pull out a foxtail if you come across one? When should I make an appointment with a veterinarian?

Foxtails and Your Dog: Risks and Symptoms

Foxtails travel. They can go from the inside of your dog’s nose to its brain by constantly moving ahead and never going backward. They can penetrate the skin or be inhaled into a lung, where they then cause a perforation.

Foxtails that are embedded in the body can result in bleeding, abscesses, edema, agony, and even death. If your dog is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, you should either look for foxtails or consult your dog’s veterinarian:

  • Feet. The feet of your dog is the perfect environment for foxtails, which can quickly become lodged between their fragile toes. If you detect swelling or limping in your dog, or if your dog is continuously licking the affected region, you should have it checked for foxtails.
  • Ears. If your dog is shaking its head, turning it to the side, or scratching persistently at an ear, this could be a sign that it has a foxtail, which may be lodged so far down inside the ear canal that you cannot see it. Your veterinarian must examine it using a specialized scope.
  • Eyes. Several symptoms may indicate that your dog has a foxtail stuck in its eye, including redness, discharge, swelling, squinting, and pawing. If you have any reason to believe that this is the case, you should seek veterinarian assistance without delay.
  • Nose. If you notice a discharge coming from your dog’s nose or if your dog is sneezing regularly and furiously, there may be a foxtail stuck in one of their nasal passages.
  • Genitals. Foxtails can get established in these places as well. Therefore, if you observe that your dog is continually licking at its genital areas, foxtails can be the culprit.

Tips for Preventing Foxtail Problems

Foxtails have the potential to become lodged in the ears, nose, eyes, or mouth of any dog. However, foxtails can be a significant concern for canines that have particularly long ears or curly hair. Avoid potential problems by:

  • Checking the coat of your pet throughout May to December, when foxtails are most prevalent, is especially important if you’ve been out strolling in open fields. When you brush your dog, pay great attention to the thick or fluffy fur of your dog to ensure that no sharp foxtail awns are hiding in it.
    Make sure that there are no foxtails stuck in your puppy’s face and ears. Check the inside of your dog’s mouth as well as the gums and the surrounding area.
  • Check the paw pads of your dog carefully for foxtails, paying particular attention to the space between the toes.
  • To get rid of any foxtails that are within easy reach, tweezers should be used. However, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if the foxtail is deeply implanted, or if the skin around it is red or swollen. Keep in mind that foxtails will not come out on their own, and they can burrow into any part of the body, including the brain, spine, eardrums, lungs, etc.

Keeping your dog away from overgrown grassy areas is the easiest step you can do to reduce the risk of foxtail infections. In addition to this, you should remove any foxtail plants that you discover in your yard. During the foxtail season, you should also think about getting your dog’s hair trimmed, especially if it tends to get foxtails in the same location over and over again.

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