Foxtail plants are spiny-headed weeds, notorious for burrowing under skin and potentially killing pets. Foxtails are prevalent in drier western states. These prickly weeds thrive in overgrown parks, open fields, and along hiking trails and roadsides. Foxtails, also known as grass seed awns, are exceptionally hardy plants that dig deep into the soil and lodge in place when their barb-like spines trap them underground. This burrowing ability is also hazardous to pets, since the spiny-headed plant can work its way into any part of your pet, such as the eyes, ears, or paws, or even a patch of skin. The danger of foxtails goes beyond simple irritation. Because these tough seeds don't break down inside the body, an embedded foxtail can lead to serious infection for your dog. It can even lead to death if left untreated. The seeds can be hard to find in your dog's fur. Symptoms of foxtails are tilting of the head, scratching constantly at the ear (you may not see the seed, it may be too deep for visual identification) , limping and swelling around the feet. You may notice a lump on the skin that is too painful to touch. Other symptoms may include: Redness, swelling, discharge, pawing at the eyes along with persistent licking or biting the genital area. Nasal discharge, violent sneezing, lethargy and lack of appetite.
Please call the office right away if you feel your dog has a foxtail.