Watch Out for Foxtails! The Fox(tail) and the Hound
While the Bay Area is home to many beautiful trails and parks to explore with your pet, one small thing can ruin your summertime adventures: the dreaded foxtail. Foxtails are grass seed awns found on many trails and pathways where wild grasses grow. Because of their tiny, barbed structures foxtails are GREAT at burrowing their way into nearly any part of your dog’s body.
The potential damage that these little intruders can do is way bigger than their size would suggest; foxtails can cause serious infections and abscesses to form both inside and out of your animal companion. Here are some of the warning signs to watch out for:
- Nose: sneezing, bloody discharge
- Mouth: sudden and acute coughing and hacking.
- Eye: swelling, redness, and discharge
- Ear: head shaking, pawing at ears
- Feet: licking or chewing at feet, redness/swelling between toes
Be sure to check your pet thoroughly after going on a walk or a hike through these dry, grassy areas. Don’t forget to brush through their fur – these pesky plants tend to stick like Velcro!
Even the most fastidious foxtail finder can overlook these little seeds, and, once they’ve worked there way in, the best course of action is to contact your veterinarian. Depending on where the foxtail is and how uncomfortable your pet is, your veterinarian may need to sedate your pet in order to remove the foxtail safely and completely. After the foxtail has been removed, a course of antibiotics or pain medication may be warranted. More serious cases may even need advanced imaging (like an ultrasound or a CT scan) and surgery.
Who would have thought that something so small could create a problem so BIG?