Their relentless presence is upon us once again. They are growing right before our eyes just waiting to attack. What is he writing about you might ask? These “beasts” to which I refer are foxtails.
Foxtails are the collective term we use to refer to seed awns of certain grasses that grow throughout California. These are non-native grasses that have invaded our state and they can cause all kinds of problems in our companions, especially our canines.
Why are foxtails dangerous?
Foxtails have rows of barbs that face one direction and allow the foxtail to stick to various surfaces including hair coats of our dogs, as well as find their way into any available orifice the dog might have and even create their own opening as well. These barbs allow migration in only one direction, in, and they do not come back out.
I have pulled them from ear canals, vaginal vaults, rectal spaces, lung lobes, tonsil recesses in the throat, nasal passages, inside the feet and up the legs and the list goes on. As one might imagine there can be considerable damage and infectious disease caused by foxtails invading these various areas. Left untreated these processes can lead to grave consequences.
How to prevent foxtail injuries?
Be on the lookout when you are out walking/running your dog in any area where these grasses are growing. I like to check my dog’s legs and paws after walking through any area with nearby foxtails and immediately pull them off before they migrate. Make sure your yard is clear of them as well. Do not simply mow them down as the seed awns will still be ready to attack. Clean them up!
How can I tell if my dog has a foxtail injury?
The ears and the paws, in that order, are the most common sights of a foxtail injury. With a foxtail in the ear, you may see your dog shaking his head, pawing at his ear, or in a more advanced stage of infection, discharge, or odor from the ear. In a paw, you may see a raised lesion between the toes and possible oozing puss. Your dog may also be licking his paw excessively.
An inhaled foxtail will likely lead to sneezing, discharge (often bloody) from the nose, and possibly breathing difficulties. Red, swollen, irritated eyes may be an indication of a foxtail, along with pawing at the eye. Signs of a less common vaginal foxtail include excessive licking and discharge that may or may not be bloody.
If you suspect your dog has a foxtail injury, please call us at 209-527-5855.