Lena is Footloose, Fancy AND Foxtail Free!
Dear Friend of Pets Unlimited,
Warmer weather has arrived in the Bay Area and, if your pets are anything like lovable Lena
, they are ready to explore the sights, sounds and smells of spring! But the arrival of sunshine can also indicate increased dangers for our canine companions and outdoorsy felines as foxtails flourish in local parks and outdoor spaces. If you are curious about this seemingly harmless plant, take a moment to learn about foxtails and why they can be a hazard to your pet.
What are foxtails?
are a generic name to describe a variety of grasses that have bushy, spiked seed clusters resembling the tail of a fox. The foxtail spikes disarticulate from the plant to disperse seeds. They have a hard tip and reverse barbs, which cause them to stick to pet fur and burrow into skin. These grasses are very common in California and are most problematic in the Bay Area from May to November.
What are the dangers of foxtails for my pet?
- They can become embedded in the skin at any location and cause infection and swelling. A common location is in the skin between the toes.
- They can burrow all the way under the skin and proceed to migrate further, creating pain and infection at various sites as it moves.
- They can be inhaled into the nose or lungs, become stuck in ears or under eyelids, or ingested and lodge in the mouth or tonsils.
What are the symptoms of foxtails?
- In skin: Local swelling, pain, licking at area, draining abscesses.
- In nose: Vigorous sneezing and pawing at nose or bleeding from nose.
- In ears: Shaking head, scratching at the ear, painful ear.
- In eyes: Squinting eye shut, rubbing at eye, swelling and discharge.
- In mouth or tonsils: Gagging, retching, difficulty swallowing.
How can I avoid foxtails?
- Do not allow pets to run off leash in areas with foxtails; avoid them whenever possible.
- Check your pet's skin carefully after each walk, including between their toes.
- If your pet has long and/or curly hair, keeping their paws trimmed will reduce the chances of getting a foxtail embedded.
If you suspect that your pet has a foxtail, seek veterinary help immediately! Foxtails travel further into the body with time and will cause more damage if left untreated.
Best Wishes for a Foxtail-Free Spring,
Dr. Chris Lundy