Foxtails Are Not Pretty Weeds
| August 25th, 2011

Foxtails: Barbed Villains!

Green foxtailsFoxtail is a grassy weed that is commonly found throughout the Central Coast of California. During the winter and spring months, the harmless looking foxtail is happily growing, nourished from all the seasonal rains. They are pretty and bright green during this time of the year and appear to pose no threat [top photo].

Dry foxtailsHowever, with the arrival of the hot, dry days of summer, their green turns to a straw color and those harmless looking pods open into barbed villains [center photo]. They will easily stick to your dogs fur as well as your clothing. They are aptly named because of their resemblance to the fox’s bushy tail, and maybe because they are quite sly and sneaky. The seeds can easily get stuck in your dog’s fur, but can also be inhaled or become stuck in your dogs nose, ears, eyes, urinary track and between their toes. They have been found in nearly every part of a dog’s body. Longer-haired breeds are more susceptible, but ALL breeds can become infested with foxtails.

Foxtail barbsThe really troublesome characteristic of these dangerous foxtails is that their seeds are barbed. This means that once they become lodged somewhere on or in your dog’s body, they will continue to keep working deeper into the body, held firmly in place by those nasty barbs that will not allow them to move backward [bottom photo].

Signs that your dog may have a foxtail include excessive shaking of the head or trying to rid themselves of it by rubbing and scooting along the ground. A foxtail in his nose will cause sneezing. A foxtail can even get into your pet’s eye. If they are not removed the risk of them burring deeper into the body is very high. If you discover an embedded foxtail, call your vet immediately. If you wait too long, removing it becomes more difficult and will cause your beloved pet a lot of misery.

Here are some ways to keep your dog safe from these nasty barbs:

  • Keep your yard clear of foxtails
  • Avoid infested areas when out and about with your dog
  • Brush you dog after exposure and remove any obvious foxtails
  • Inspect your dog thoroughly, expecially the paws, eyes, nose, and ears
  • Take him to the vet immediately if you find an embedded foxtail

Summer is a wonderful time to be out with you four-legged friend, so be sure to take a few precautions to avoid the dangers of foxtails.


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