So we’ve all heard of a foxtail but what really is it? A foxtail is a a barbed plant seed of a foxtail plant, a grass-like weed. They grow throughout the West of the US and are especially prevalent in the dry summers. Foxtails can embed themselves into your shoes, clothes, and even your dog’s skin. These tough seeds don’t break down in the body, but actually continue to migrate until your pet is left with a nasty infection and painful sore. Here at Pismo Beach Vet Clinic, we see foxtails all the time. They can be in between toes, inside of ears, eyes, vulvas, mouths, and just about anywhere else you can imagine! If left untreated, they can lead to severe infections and possibly travel into the chest cavity or abdominal cavity. Sometimes you can pluck the foxtail right out, but many times we will need to sedate patients and follow the foxtail’s tract in order to remove it entirely.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure that foxtails don’t ruin your summer.
- Know what foxtails look like and remove them when possible. Removing them from your yard might not be the easiest thing, but will make a huge difference to your pet. Lessening your pets exposure to foxtails will decrease the likelihood of getting one embedded. Try fencing off part of the yard where there are no foxtails so your pet can hang out worry free.
- Stay on the path. Also easier said than done, try not to let your pet run through fields or parks during foxtail season. Keep your walks on the path or in areas without foxtails.
- Keep vigilant. When caught early, foxtails are usually fairly easy to remove. Take a moment each night to search through your pet’s coat and in between their toes for any foxtails.
- Know the signs. When your pet starts excessively licking at a paw, holding an eye shut, shaking their head, or violently sneezing, you should consider the possibility of a foxtail. Call us to schedule an appointment, where we will try to find the foxtail and get it out as soon as possible. Left untreated, these little seeds can cause massive infections and a lot of discomfort to your pet.
- Try alternative methods. There are some products that may help with keeping foxtails away. It’s best just to avoid foxtails all together, but you can always try to use booties or a mask on your pet when the foxtails are especially bad!
Foxtails can be a pain, but hopefully with the steps listed above you can try to keep them off of your pet!