If you are a pet parent, then you know about the sheer joy of allowing a dog to run through tall blades of grass.
Animal owners and pets themselves enjoy these moments equally and while it can be a lot of fun to set your dog loose, there are certain grasses that you need to be aware of because of their inherent danger.
Foxtail grass is extremely dangerous for your dog and you will want to read on and find out more about why.
A foxtail is a “spikelet” that carries a foxtail grass seed. These grasses grow mainly in the Western part of the U.S. Picture a blade of grass with a barbed weapon at its tip. The barbs can lodge themselves in your companion animal’s skin, feet, nose, mouth, ears, or genitals.
The seed awns are what makes this grass potentially harmful to your four legged friend. These awns are needles that are designed to implant the seed further into the ground, but when your dogs come into contact with them, they burrow into the animal’s skin. Once they have entered the soft tissue, severe injuries will often take place a as a result.
The spikelets, or “awns,” have a hard, sharp tip so that they can drill into the ground to allow the seeds to germinate, so imagine what they can do to animal tissue.
Foxtails are designed to migrate and can burrow into a dog or cat’s body and even reach the brain or internal organs, causing pain, infection, abscesses, perforated lungs, and even death. Although long-haired dogs are at a higher risk of foxtails’ aggressive attacks, short-haired dogs with open, upright ears are also especially vulnerable, as the barbs can sail directly into the ear canal.
This grass is most commonly found in sites that have been disturbed and has an appearance that is not dissimilar to the average weed that you will find in a distressed location. Landfills, roadsides, vacant lots, mountain trails and open fields are just a few of the areas that you and your dog are going to want to avoid.
So what are some of the symptoms that pet owners need to be aware of in order to keep their dogs safe? If the dog is sneezing on a consistent basis, they may have a foxtail in their nose. Painful lumps on the skin, violent head shaking and excessive pawing at the eye are also telltale signs. Beware of visible abscesses and puss discharges as well, in addition to bacterial infections.
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The best way to ensure long term protection for your dog is to be as proactive as possible. Keep a close watch on any areas where your dog plays to make sure that there is none of this grass to be found and check the animal over regularly. Please take the time to share this highly crucial information with all of the animal lovers in your life.
What to Do if You Find a Foxtail on an Animal
Remember this cardinal rule: A burrowed foxtail can’t remove itself from your companion animal, and, even worse, it can dig deeper and cause bigger problems. If you find a foxtail in an animal’s fur, you can carefully remove it with tweezers, but if it’s in any way lodged in the skin or you suspect that it has entered the animal’s body, get to a veterinarian immediately.
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