Foxtails: Menace in the Grass
Dogs love to roll around in the grass and explore a yard to their hearts desire. As they cut loose and revel in their outdoor territory, there is a potential threat lurking in the grass. No, it’s not fleas, ticks or other obvious pests, it’s a weed. A weed that can cause a great deal of discomfort: the foxtail. The foxtail plant is a pesky problem that can pose a health risk to your playful pooch.
What is Foxtail Grass?
This grass-like weed has an innocent fluffy look, but don’t be fooled. Its barbed seed head can work its way into any part of your pet’s fur and skin. Though most common throughout the western part of the US, foxtail grass has been found throughout the country. Adding to the frustration, foxtail grass thrives in several types of landscape. This weed grows just as well in a pasture as it does in a gravel driveway, so you can’t rule out the possibility of their existence anywhere…even in your own backyard!
What are the risks?
If a foxtail has found its way into your pet’s skin, they are sure to be uncomfortable. Often, these seeds continue to burrow deeper and deeper as time goes by, causing significant pain at the site. Since it can be difficult for even the most attentive pet owners to see these little seeds through your pet’s fur, an anchored Foxtail may go undetected and untreated for quite some time. Unfortunately, this is exactly how abscesses form, causing even more pain and the potential for infection. These irritating seeds can easily get lodged in open places, like ears, paws, nostrils, eyes, and genitals. Monitor your pet for limping, head shaking, eye swelling, sneezing, or any other abnormal change.
How can you prevent complications?
When it comes to searching for and removing these prickly spines, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Regularly groom and examine your dog’s fur thoroughly. Check the face, ears, paw pads, between the toes and any other place that these tricky seeds can hide. This weed generally thrives May through December, so attentive grooming during this time is recommended.
- Use tweezers to remove any stickers that are not deeply burrowed in your dog’s skin. If you see any material that has become embedded in the skin, or has caused any changes to the area, it’s time to visit your veterinarian.
- Keep your dog out of any overgrown areas. These areas can be filled with foxtails, so it is best to avoid them if you can.
- Consider keeping your pet’s hair short during foxtail season… long fur is the perfect hideout!
Don’t underestimate the foxtail weed. They are tiny but painful, and if left untreated, can create chaos!. These tips should help keep your pet safe while they enjoy their time outside.