Foxtails & Spring Hazards

Foxtails: The Wicked Weed

A foxtail may seem like an innocuous weed. These grass-like plants have a barbed seed head that can pose a real hazard to pets. In some cases, a foxtail can even kill a dog or cat. At TLC Animal Hospital in El Paso, Texas, we are committed to keeping pet owners informed of potential dangers to their pets' lives, including things such as foxtails.

What Makes Foxtails So Dangerous?

Let's say it's spring or summer and your dog or cat is running through a field where foxtail plants grow. If your pet brushes up against one of these weeds, the spiny seed head will attach itself to your pet’s skin or fur. Due to their barbs, foxtails can travel in only one direction, forward. This means that as your pet continues to move, the foxtail will burrow deeper into your pet's skin.

These nasty plants can get embedded in just about any part of your pet's body, including the ears, skin, eyes, mouth, nostrils, and paws. They can even enter through your dog's genitals. If left untreated, an embedded foxtail can cause a life-threatening infection or even travel to a dog's brain or another vital organ.

Symptoms of an Embedded Foxtail

Depending on where the foxtail has entered your pet's body, the following are some of the symptoms you may notice:

  • Shaking or tilting of the head (ear)
  • Redness or swelling (skin)
  • Limping (paws)
  • Sneezing (nose)

Although foxtails are most common on the west coast, they can now be found in all of the states, except for these seven:

  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia

Grass Seeds

Foxtails aren't the only seeds that can be a hazard for pets. Grass seeds also have sharp tips that can penetrate and become embedded in a dog's skin or paws.

Contact Us for Help

If you suspect that your pet has an embedded foxtail or grass seed, call TLC Animal Hospital in El Paso, Texas at 915-592-6200. Our veterinarian will carefully examine your dog or cat. If a foxtail or grass seed is determined to be the source of your pet's discomfort, our vet will then discuss the best method for its removal.