The official start of spring is this week and that means
warmer temperatures and some new outdoor
challenges for our K9s – especially in California!
Foxtails are common, and shed potentially dangerous seeds and fibers
for your four-legged best friend! Learn how to protect your
dog’s well-being from these tiny, intrusive barbs.
While found throughout the USA; the types of grasses that produce foxtails are most common in the western United States (west of the Mississippi).
Usually, the worst cases are found in California.
Foxtails Are Known by Many Names
Along with the warm, rainy, and moist weather, comes the explosion of grasses that produce potentially dangerous foxtails (bushy spikelets resembling a fox’s tail) or grass awns (bristle-like fibers).
These foxtail-producing grasses are known by a variety of names:
~ Wild Barley ~ Cheat Grass ~ Needlegrass ~ Bromegrass ~ Spear Grass ~ Feathergrass ~ Buzzard Grass
Keep reading to learn more about these tiny, but destructive foxtail seeds and fibers.
A single foxtail is actually “made up of dozens of hard, pointed seeds …
studded from tip to tail with microscopic barbs set in the same
direction,” warns the Whole Dog Journal.
Despite their small size, foxtails pose a formidable threat to your pet for two specific reasons.
1. Your dog’s (or cat’s) body cannot break down these hardened seed heads inside the body.
2. With their stiff, arrow-shaped, microscopic barbs, they cannot work themselves back out of the body … they can only embed themselves deeper into the body tissues, muscles and even organs (including the brain, lungs, eardrums, spine, and reproductive organs) posing life-threatening issues for your dog or cat.
Foxtails: Find Them Before They Find Your Pet
Avoidance is the best protection against foxtails. These grasses are often found in:
– Pastures and open fields
– Areas of tall, overgrown grasses
– Alongside roads and trails
– Even in sidewalk cracks
But even with the best intentions and care, your dog can still come in unwanted contact with foxtails.
Foxtails: Where They Embed on Your Pet’s Body
While the tiny seeds and fibers of the foxtails can embed anywhere in your pet’s body, they typically are found in their:
- Ears (especially with long ears)
- Face, mouth, and gums
- Fur coats (especially long and/or curly fur coats)
- Nose (from being inhaled)
- Paws and between the toes
- Genitals and groin area
Always check your pet after being outside especially in areas known to harbor foxtail grasses. Finding and removing any seeds from the foxtail can protect your pet from painful and potentially serious (even life-threatening) health issues.
Recheck your pet if you see any of the following signs/symptoms:
- Persistent licking, scratching or pawing at parts of the body
Violent or excessive sneezing (trying to dislodge an inhaled seed)
- Tilting or shaking the head
- Redness around the eyes/eyelids, tears or discharge, swelling or inflammation
- Coughing, retching or gagging (from a swallowed seed); difficulty eating or swallowing; loss of appetite
- Bloody nose or discharge
- Swollen paws or limping
- Sudden or unexplained fever, vomiting
- Difficulty in breathing
Remove any foxtail seeds or fibers with tweezers if you can easily remove it without pushing it into the body. If a foxtail is already embedded or the area around the seed is red, swollen or inflamed, see your veterinarian immediately.
Better Care for Your Best Friend!
We understand your pet is a member of your family and we treat them like one of ours with compassionate, reliable and expert pet care you can trust!
Whole Dog Journal: Keep Stickers Out of Sniffers (and Every Other Part of the Body)
The Bark: Protecting Your Dog Against Foxtails
Pets.Wedmd.com: Foxtail Grass and Your Dog
Whole Dog Journal: Foxtail Grass: Awns of Destruction for Western Dogs
The OutFox Field Guard for Dogs