Foxtail plants can be risky for your dog. The barbed seed heads of the foxtail plant can work their way into any part of your dog or feline, from the nose to between the toes and inside the ears, eyes, and mouth. They can even dig themselves directly into a spot of skin.
The foxtail plant is a grass-like weed. It is primarily found in the Western half of the U.S.
The threat of foxtails surpasses primary inflammation. Because these tough seeds don’t break down inside the body, an embedded foxtail can result in major infection for your dog. It can even result in death if left without treatment. The seeds can be hard to discover in your dog’s fur.
So how can you tell if your pooch has a foxtail that’s causing issues? If you find a foxtail should you extract it? So when is it time to call a vet?
Symptoms Your Dog Has Foxtails in a Paw or Other Body Parts
Foxtails travel. Moving non-stop forward, never back, they can migrate from inside your dog’s nose to its brain. They can dig through the skin or be inhaled into – and after that perforate – a lung.
Embedded foxtails can cause discharge, abscesses, swelling, pain, and death. If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, check for foxtails or talk with your vet:
- Feet. Foxtails like your dog’s feet and can quickly become embedded in between tender toes. Check for foxtails if you discover swelling or hopping or if your dog is constantly licking the area.
- Ears. If your pooch is shaking his head, tilting it to the side, or scratching nonstop at an ear, this could be the sign of a foxtail – one that may be so deep inside the ear canal you can’t see it. Your veterinarian needs to have a look using a different scope.
- Eyes. Redness, discharge, swelling, squinting, and pawing all may be signs your dog has a foxtail lodged in its eye. If you think this might hold, seek veterinary care right away.
- Nose. If you see discharge from the nose, or if your dog is sneezing regularly and extremely, there may be a foxtail lodged in a nasal passage.
- Genitals. Foxtails can discover their way into these areas, too. So if you see your dog persistently licking at its genitals, foxtails could be the cause.
If the foxtail is visible, you might pull it out by hand or with blunt tweezers. Feeding the dog bread may force the seed to move through the throat and into the stomach. In any case, see a veterinarian for follow-up.
Preventing Foxtail Problems in Dogs
Any dog can get foxtails in the ears, nose, eyes, or mouth. However, dogs with long ears and curly hair can be especially susceptible to foxtail issues. Avoid issues by:
- Analyzing your pet’s coat throughout foxtail season – usually May through December – specially if you’ve gone strolling in open fields. Brush your dog as required, looking especially carefully for pointy foxtail awns in your dog’s thick or feathery fur.
- Examine your puppy’s face and ears thoroughly for foxtails. Do not forget to look in and around your pooch’s mouth and gums.
- Carefully check your dog’s paw pads for foxtails– particularly between the toes.
- Use tweezers to get rid of any foxtails you can quickly get to. However, if a foxtail is deeply ingrained, or if the area around it is red or swollen, call your veterinarian immediately. Keep in mind, foxtails will not come out by themselves, and they can burrow into the brain, spine, eardrums, lungs– actually, anywhere.
The most convenient way to prevent foxtail problems is to keep your dog out of large, grassy areas. It would be best if you also pulled out any foxtail plants you find in your lawn. Likewise think about trimming your dog’s hair throughout foxtail season, particularly if it tends to get foxtails in one spot persistently.