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Hidden Danger in Your Yard: Foxtails

Its a beautiful time of year, with all the rain we’ve had this year we have some amazing wild flowers filling the hillsides. Unfortunately along with the rain came a very deadly weed and its amazing how many owners don’t know how to recognize this plant.

If you are hiking with your dog … please take a moment to learn to identify what a foxtail is and how to prevent injury to your dog.

First off … what does a foxtail even look like?


How are foxtails dangerous for dogs??

Oh let me count the ways. These pesky plant seeds imbed themselves into dogs ears, eyes, noses, mouths or directly under the skin. If they imbed in a dog’s skin, they can literally travel underneath the skin which requires surgical removal to find where they end up. Years ago I knew a dog who swallowed one and it collapsed her lung (luckily she survived the ordeal!) I’ve known other dogs to have complications from foxtails but safe it say, you don’t want your dog anywhere near a foxtail.

How do I protect my dog from foxtails?

Prevention is key! Check your yard for these pesky weeds to grow up around the fence line. They are hardy plants and with all the rain we’ve had, trust me they are everywhere. Learn to identify them and spray your property if necessary with appropriate weed killer or pull by hand if possible.

If you are out hiking, try and avoid patches of dried foxtail bushes if possible. If you think your dog may have encountered foxtails, the key is to thoroughly check your dog’s feet, armpits and fur for foxtails to be hiding in. Left unchecked, these will sometimes travel internally and cause serious issues so a quick check after every hike is key!

If you are an avid hiker, chances are your dog may be running through dried up foxtails. You may consider protective face gear while out with your dog which you can at a supplier like OutFox Field Guard.

How do I know if my dog has a imbedded foxtail?

Left untreated, foxtails can cause a variety of problems. Some symptoms to look out for:

  1. Excessive sneezing which may be indicative of a foxtail in the nose

  2. Painful lump under the skin, particularly between the toes

  3. Pawing or shaking ears which may be indicative of foxtail in the ears.

Always get your dog to a vet if you feel they may have an imbedded foxtail so it can be properly treated. We hope you’ve familiarized yourself with foxtails so you can protect your pet this summer!

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