What are "foxtails" and why are they a danger to my pet?

June 3, 2014
hello world!

Foxtail season is here and can be a potentially expensive problem for you and painful your pet.

So what are Foxtails?

Foxtails are barbed grass awns that can be irreversibly lodged into your pet. They can be very painful and can cause infections. Foxtails tend to go unnoticed until it has become a nuisance.

Foxtail-Close-Up-300x210Foxtails can mysteriously migrate anywhere from nostrils, ear canals and eyes, between toes, pass through fur and burrow into skin. There are barbs on the foxtail that helps it gain purchase in your pet’s skin. It will continue working its way into your pet and cannot easily, if at all, be removed without medical intervention. The deeper the foxtail gets, the more health issues it can cause. Some severe cases can require surgical removal and antibiotics.

It is important to be vigilant when outdoors this summer and to avoid areas with dense foxtail growth whenever possible. Some things you can do to protect your pet is to thoroughly inspect fur after walks; brushing out your pet’s coat particularly if it is long and/or thick. Also, check your pet’s ears thoroughly; you may notice your pet is shaking his/her head or unusually scratching their ears, this would be a good time to contact your veterinarian. After walks, check the paws and in between the toes of your furry friends, also check under collars and harnesses, just in case a pesky foxtail has made its way underneath. The nostrils can be another place foxtails like to hide. If your pet starts sneezing or shows discomfort in their nose, it could be wise to make an appointment with your veterinarian to have them checked.

If you are at all concerned that your pet may have a foxtail lodged anywhere, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian. Even if you can't see them, or you have none in sight of your home or favorite walks, these sly grass awns could be silently causing your beloved pet pain.

By Savanna Lagomarsino, Lead RVT at Groveway Veterinary Hospital