The foxtail plant represents a hidden summertime danger to pets. Once inhaled, the barbed seeds of these common grass-like plants can travel through your pet’s respiratory system, where they become lodged in place, causing internal damage. Foxtails can also become embedded in the skin, eyes and ears, or enter the digestive tract. The shape of seed means that it is gradually forced deeper into tissue, traveling throughout a pet’s body, creating abscesses, damaging tissue, and spreading bacteria. Internalized foxtails may migrate to vital organs, causing major damage and even death.
Symptoms of foxtail ingestion are violent sneezing episodes; bloody discharge from eyes, nose or throat; irritation of external tissues; and, externally, embedded in the animal’s skin. If you suspect your dog or cat may be affected, contact us immediately. The foxtail(s) will be located and removed quickly to minimize the damage done.
With the drought foxtails have become a year-long problem; Always check for foxtails:
- Feet: Foxtails love your dog’s feet and can easily become embedded between tender toes. Check for foxtails if you notice swelling or limping or if your dog is constantly licking the area.
- Ears: If your pet is shaking his head, tilting it to the side, or scratching incessantly at an ear, this could be the sign of a foxtail — one that may be so deep inside the ear canal you can’t see it. Your veterinarian needs to take a look using a special scope.
- Eyes:Redness, discharge, swelling, squinting, and pawing all may be signs your dog has a foxtail lodged in its eye. If you think this may be the case, seek veterinary care immediately.
- Nose: If you see discharge from the nose, or if your dog is sneezing frequently and intensely, there may be a foxtail lodged in a nasal passage.
- Vagina or penis: Foxtails can find their way into these areas, too. So if you notice your dog persistently licking at its genitals, foxtails could be the cause.
If you have questions for your Del Valle Pet Hospital veterinarian, stop by our veterinary hospital in Livermore or call (925) 443-6000 to schedule an appointment.