Foxtails: A Dog’s Worst Enemy

February 25th, 2016

77f4e800c6978005bc8ba950811cf34cHiking through the beautiful Bay Area trails is a great way to bond with your dog, and reinforce training. It also comes with a hidden danger: the foxtail.

It’s a type of plant seed often found on trails or pathways where wild grasses grow and which looks like a tiny barbed structure— has the capacity to burrow its way into nearly any part of your dog’s body, including, most dangerously, your dog’s nose, mouth, ears, or eyes.

If left untreated, foxtails can cause serious infections and abscesses to form inside and out of your animal companion. Here are some of the major symptoms to watch out for:

  • Nose: A foxtail inhaled through a dog’s nose often manifests as a sudden onset of sneezing, sometimes accompanied by bloody discharge from the nostril.
  • Mouth: When inhaled through the mouth foxtails can cause sudden and acute coughing and hacking.
  • Eye: A foxtail in the eye can cause swelling, redness and discharge.
  • Ear: When lodged in the ear, foxtails can cause dogs to continually shake their heads and scratch at their ears.
  • Foot and Paws: Foxtails also like to nestle themselves between toes and can be tricky to spot and remove. If your dog suddenly starts to chew at his or her foot, there may be a foxtail lodged in there.

The only sure-fire way of guarding against foxtails is prevention; avoid grassy areas (especially during dry times in the spring, summer, and fall) and, if you do take your dog through an area with foxtail potential, be sure to comb through their fur afterwards to check for any unwanted passengers that may have grabbed on while you were out.