Foxtails: Tiny Seeds, Big Problems

Foxtails: Tiny Seeds, Big Problems

As if rattlesnakes weren’t enough, our area also has another serious pet hazard: foxtails, or more accurately the barbed seed head of the foxtail plant.

Foxtails are so dangerous because not only can they work their way into any part of your dog or cat, but the actual seeds are very tough and don’t break down. They are hard to find in a pet’s fur and they like to get around, too—a foxtail in the nose can migrate to the brain and one in the skin can eventually make its way to a lung.

To decrease exposure to foxtails, try to keep your pet out of tall grasses and remove all foxtail plants from your yard. If your pets are outside frequently, brush them regularly and check for foxtails over their entire body, paying special attention to ears, mouth, nose, between toes and around the base of the tail.

While you can use tweezers to remove foxtails you find on your pet right after attachment, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended if you notice the following symptoms:

  • Constant licking of an area, especially feet or genitals
  • Limping or swelling of a foot
  • Shaking the head, tilting it to one side or scratching incessantly.
  • Redness, discharge, swelling, pawing or squinting of the eyes
  • Frequent or intense sneezing, or nasal discharge

For more information or if you want to schedule an exam for a pet who has been exposed to foxtails, request an appointment online or give us a call at 805-369-2222.