In the summer, we are more active with our dogs.  They run, jump and play in the great outdoors.  But one of the scariest parts of summer is foxtails. This dangerous weed is not just on the hiking trail high up on the mountain, or near your campground, they can be found in your own backyard.  Foxtails can be found year round, but they are a big problem for pet owners from Spring to Fall. A person can get a foxtail stuck on their shoes, socks, just about anywhere low to the ground.  For a dog, foxtails can be extremely dangerous and sometimes requiring emergency veterinarian care.  Therefore, as a dog lover, you need to know the why, how and prevention of foxtails.

Why The Danger?

The seeds of the foxtail have an extremely short front tip that can penetrate your dog’s skin.  From your dog’s nose, to their ears and eyes, between the toes and even in their mouth, a foxtail can work its’ way in.  When they are in your dog’s body, they can travel.  In addition, they can even migrate to your dog’s brain or lungs. Once they dig in, their barbed head is nearly impossible to remove. Embedded foxtails can cause discharge, abscesses, swelling, pain, and death.

How To Protect?

dog in dry grass

Above all, the first step in prevention! If you have foxtails in your own backyard, remove them immediately.  Open fields and overgrown paths are the ideal breeding ground for foxtails.  Dog owners should stick to beaten down paths when walking.  Don’t let your dog run through thick high grass.  If your dog is routinely in grassland areas, a good pair of dog shoes will offer their feet protection.  After every outdoor adventure, check your pet from head to tail for foxtails.  Look between their toes, in the ears, armpits and groin.  Long haired dogs are especially difficult to spot the dangerous weed, so give extra examination time. A good brushing after being outside is always a good tip.

Signs Of A Foxtail

Here are some signs that your dog has a foxtail:

  • Your dog’s eye is swollen shut and leaking discharge
  • Your dog’s nose is leaking discharge
  • Constant sneezing
  • Refusal to eat
  • Constant  licking at their paws or groin area
  • Unusually bad odor in their mouth, ears or nose

Treatment Time

In almost all cases, if you suspect your dog has a foxtails, a trip to your veterinarian will be needed asap. Once inside your dog, foxtails are a one-way trip. They won’t dissolve on their own. These tricky weeds can be difficult to remove for a dog owner.  In most cases, you will need professional care for your dog. Delaying treatment allows the foxtail to do further damage.  As a dog lover, you will need to get your dog to the doggy doctor sooner than later.