Summer is a great time to be outdoors with your pet. In our county, there are countless scenic locations to explore with your dog, but there are also some areas you will certainly want your pet to stay out of. If your pup loves to bound through tall grass, it is important to keep an eye out for dry areas that may contain foxtails. Foxtails are a type of grass that feature clusters of barbs used to disperse seeds. These barbs have evolved to easily attach themselves into animal fur in order to be transported to new areas where they eventually drop.
These sticky spikes are annoying enough when we get them on our clothes, but they also have a high potential to cause a lot of harm to your pets. Foxtails easily become lodged in sensitive, hard-to-reach areas such as between paws, ears, eyes and genitals, potentially working their way deep into the body and causing complications such as tissue damage and infection. Foxtails fragments that make their way into the mouth can travel to the lungs, which can actually cause puncture wounds.The damage from a single foxtail spike should not be underestimated and can result in very expensive veterinary care.
If you find yourself in an area with foxtails, check your dog’s coat, ears, mouth and gums as well as in between the toes. Signs that a dog might have unseen foxtails is shaking of the head, pawing at the ears, limping, sneezing, coughing, gagging and excessive scratching. Serious cases may result in redness, vomiting, blood in urine and difficulty breathing. If you notice these signs, please consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
How to prevent it: The best way to avoid complications involving foxtails is to be aware of the surroundings whenever exploring outdoors. That, and having control over where your pet wanders will go a long way in avoiding the pain associated with foxtails. If you know you will be in an area where there will be unavoidable foxtails, you can prepare by fitting your pup with some booties such as the Ruffwear Trex line of boots or Pawz Rubber Dog Boots. These will protect the feet, but make sure to keep an eye out for foxtails lodged in other susceptible areas.
With these tips in mind, we hope you and your pet enjoy the rest of the summer!