It’s summer! No better time to be outdoors! But watch out! Foxtail season is upon us! You might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about and how does it relate to pets, so first things first:
What are foxtails, why should we care?
Foxtails are a common grassy, seed bearing plant structure with a pointy, barbed end and a bushy tail (see, ‘foxtail’) that commonly increase in numbers during the summer or early fall. This little meadow grass seed can be dangerous in our pets as the pointy, barbed end can work its way into various locations, moving in only one direction but not the other way. As they work their way through the skin, the paws, the nose, the ears, the skin, and even the lungs, they can burrow into the body, get lodged, and cause severe infections. If left untreated, depending on where the foxtail is embedded, many severe medical issues can result including blindness, abscess formation, draining tracts, and even death.
Possible warning signs of embedded foxtails in particular areas include:
- Nose – Extreme severe sneezing, pawing at nose, bleeding from nose. Symptoms may diminish after several hours, but become intermittent for several days following
- Ear – Tilting/shaking head, pawing at ear, crying, erratic movement
- Eye – Squinting eye suddenly, eye swelling, tearing, mucous discharge
- Throat – Gagging, retching cough, compulsive grass eating, stretching neck and swallowing
- Skin – Small sores between toes or under arms, sores on skin accompanied by swelling or small lumps
Checkout the video below to see Dr. Liao remove a foxtail from a pet's nose!
Can foxtails be prevented?
One way to protect your pet against foxtails is to carefully look over your pet often during the summer, particularly if your pet has long hair. Comb through the fur with your hands, check the paws, and the ears. Make sure to look for foxtails in the environment, your yard, in addition to on your pet. If you take your dog for a jog, a hike, or to the beach, pay attention dry, bushy areas where you’ll find foxtails. Additionally, try to keep your pet’s coat well maintained with a close-bodied cut during summer months, you will lessen the risk for potential problems. If you suspect that your pet may be dealing with foxtails, contact your local veterinarian immediately so that the problem can be treated early.
We hope this article about foxtails helps to keep you and your pet safe and happy throughout the summer! Once again, beware of those foxtails and please seek out your local veterinarian if you suspect your pet is dealing with foxtails. As always, feel free to reach out to our team on Facebook, Instagram, email, or in the comments section below if you have any further questions. Post your favorite summer outdoor pictures of your pet and don’t forget to #wellnergypets!
About the Author:
Dr. Zonram Liao D.V.M. is a Southern California native, and earned his undergraduate degree from University of California, San Diego before obtaining his veterinary degree from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. He is not only a firm believer in the use of supportive care supplements to improve the health and happiness of his patients, but also is a strong advocate of the benefits of preventive care medicine for his patients as well. During his free time, Dr. Liao enjoys spending his time outdoors fishing and hiking, playing basketball, watching movies, cooking, traveling, and trying new foods.