Summer Hazards: Foxtails

July 22, 2015
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Foxtail-Close-Up-300x210Foxtails can be an aggravating and painstaking problem for many pet owners. While they are located mostly in the western half of the United States, they are most prevalent in California.

Why are they dangerous?

Fox tails are more than just an irritation. They can work their way up through the body and into organs, including but not limited to: heart, lungs, and brain.

What are some signs to look out for? According to the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) signs to look out for can be:

  • Eyes swollen shut or squinting with sticky discharge.dog_smiling_xw600_xh398
  • Sneezing or discharge from the nose, which may be bloody.
  • Repeated gagging or difficulty chewing or swallowing; not eating.
  • Putrid odor from the mouth, ears, or nose.
  • Head tilting, shaking, or scratching at the ears.
  • Continuous licking at areas.
  • Open sores, which may be the remains of a burst abscess,
    but may still have the foxtail inside.

How can foxtails be prevented?

There are foxtail nets that you can purchase online. When possible, you will want to avoid areas with lots of foxtails. After going outside, check you dog (and cats) coats, ears, toes, and mouths. Grooming and trimming your dog’s hair during foxtail months can help immensely. Dogs get foxtails more often than cats because of their coats. Cats also regularly groom themselves, getting rid of the foxtails. Though it is possible for any animal to get them.

By Brittany Ligon, Veterinary Assistant at Pinole Pet Hospital