The Danger of Foxtails

Those grassy plants in your back yard with spikes that resemble the tail of a fox can be dangerous to your pet. Grasses with foxtails grow in abundance in Southern California. From January to April, these plants are green and grow quickly. As the weather dries and heats up, foxtails dry and the seeds start to fall away. The seeds easily embed in people’s socks, pants, and pet’s paws and fur. Some foxtails that end up implanted in your pet’s fur can be missed and cause injury to your pet.

Foxtails are pointed and can easily penetrate skin. After penetration, the foxtail can begin to migrate slowly throughout the body. Symptoms of a foxtail can include your pet shaking its head, squinting its eye, sneezing, bloody discharge, inflamed or painful lumps, and/or other tenderness. Foxtails can embed in the eye, ears, skin, nose or genitals. Since foxtails are barbed, they are like a fish hook, and are difficult to remove. If you see a foxtail embedded, do not remove it, contact your veterinarian for removal and assessment of possible infection. The longer that your pet has a foxtail, the higher the probability of the foxtail migrating into other areas of your pet’s body. It is possible that if a foxtail migrates that it can penetrate into the lungs, spine or other internal organs.

To prevent foxtails, routinely clear your yard of weeds and brush, discourage your dog from chewing on grasses and check your pet thoroughly after hiking or playing in brushy areas.

If you suspect that your pet has a foxtail, give us a call at (858) 759-8797 to schedule an appointment.