Sunday, May 10, 2009

Foxtails in California are a danger to dogs

Foxtails are the curse of springtime in California. I feel like I should vacuum my back yard. When my gardener mowed, I followed along behind with a rake, sweeping up as many of these nasties as I could. I’ll never get them all. They will attach to my dogs’ coats, and I’ll eventually be picking individual seed heads off of each dog. 

Beside causing mats and just generally messing up the dog’s fur, foxtails are dangerous. Their sharp barbs can penetrate the skin and get into the dog’s bloodstream, eventually lodging in a lung, abscessing, and killing the dog. One blade of grass lets lose hundreds of little barbed seedlings. Dried seeds are most dangerous, because they are sharp and penetrate the skin more easily.

Foxtails are notoriously hard to find in the dog’s coat. My sheltie Sherman had one between his toes. His foot was infected and he kept licking it. The vet anesthetized him and couldn’t find the foxtail in the wound. After a week of antibiotics, there was still an open hole between the dog’s toes. I poked around and pulled the foxtail out. It had moved back out. Once removed, Sherman healed up nicely.

The best prevention is to inspect your dog’s entire body every day, including the ears, rear end, and between his toes. Folds around the face, under the armpits – all are susceptible. Shorthaired dogs like Labs seem to get just as many as a sheltie. And foxtails are so small they are often hard to see.

People moving to this area are often unaware of foxtails, so educate your friends!

Dog Owners Guide to California Foxtails, by Curtis Clark

Foxtails, By Patty Mead, National Vizsla Association

The following article features information from a veterinarian and explains symptoms  a dog will show when a foxtail is imbedded somewhere on its body:



Chad said...

Thanks for this info on foxtails...unfortunatley I can relate, my cocker spaniel Eli just had one taken out of his paw. His paw swelled up a week ago and after a week of antibiotics the swelling didn't go today they flushed out his swollen paw and found a foxtail deep in there...what a bummer...but happy he is on the mend now...I'll be sure to brush him out after he has been running around outside...

TwoCrazyPuppies said...

My miniature doxie just got a foxtail up his nose last night. Was horrified to see him sneeze uncontrollably with spurts of blood. Took him to the emergency (at 9pm) and they guessed right that it is probably a foxtail up his snout. Peanut was put under general anaesthesia, had his foxtail dug out, slept the night at the pet hosp and I picked him up all drowsy but happy this morning some ~ $400 later (for an easy surgery).

Advice for "uncontrollably sneezing blood" dogs - don't mess with the "olive oil trick". Rush to the vet / emergency and get it removed fast before the foxtail finds it way to the brain or the lungs!

Anonymous said...

I'm very aware of the dangers of foxtails and yet my little Tibetan Spaniel managed to get one lodged in his nose on Wednesday. During treatment we discovered one that had been there for awhile in his ear and several in his paws. Cost about $400 for treatment but he's doing better.

A note to anyone dealing with ever increasing vet bills. My pet health insurance plan from Healthy Paws Pet Insurance paid for the treatment. So while I hope to avoid this again for my dog's sake, at least financially I was covered.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing!!

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Anonymous said...

We finally found something that works. Our puppy got them in the nose and ears last year. But this keeps them away from the face and he doesn't mind it either.

Anonymous said...

My gardener cut all the fox tail, but the are some on the floor, is dangerous for my dog, can he go on the back yard or is better to wait couple of days.