Why Foxtail Grass is a Threat to Pets in the Summer

Foxtail plants have barbed seed heads that can burrow into almost any part of your pet, including their ears, eyes, nose, throat, and internal organs. Foxtail grasses are actually weeds, and they look like wild barley or wheat. They have a bushy top that resembles a bird’s feather or a fox’s tail. Here’s a look at why foxtail grasses are such a threat to pets in the summer.

Dangers of Foxtail Grass Exposure and Ingestion

In the summer, the foxtail grasses dry out and become brittle. The seed heads break off easily and can be inhaled, ingested, or attached to your pet’s skin. Once they are attached, they can quickly burrow into the skin, where they continue burrowing deeper and deeper. Without quick intervention and removal, they can cause infection, abscesses, swelling, pain, organ failure, and death.

Looking for Foxtails

Make sure your yard is clear of wild grasses and weeds, and don’t let your pet outside unsupervised. Keep your dog on a leash when you leave your home, and only let your cat outside under supervision. Before your pet comes inside, check his coat, between his toes, in his ears, and elsewhere for signs of foxtail barbs. Brush your pet regularly and consider trimming or shaving the hair on his legs, feet, and around his tail and neck to make it easier to spot foxtail barbs.

Signs of Foxtail Exposure & Ingestion

●  Eyes – Redness, swelling, discharge, vision problems, squinting, pawing or scratching at eyes.

●  Ears – Shaking, tilting, or pawing at the ear, discharge or drainage from the ear, redness and irritation inside the ear.

●  Throat – Coughing, wheezing, or hacking. Repeated hard swallowing. Disinterested in eating. Coughing up blood or mucus. Pawing or scratching at the throat.

●  Nose – Violent sneezing with bloody mucus.

●  Feet – Foxtail barbs between the toes or in the pad of the foot. Redness, inflammation, swelling, heat, or tenderness in the foot. Limping or excessive licking of the area.

●  Genitals – Persistent licking of the genitals, redness and swelling, signs of irritation or infection, discharge, or bleeding.

If your pet has any of these symptoms, bring him to an emergency veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

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