Foxtails are the hidden danger of summer to our four legged family members. These grasses shed their seeds in the most unfavorable way, embedding themselves in the fur coats of our pets. Or worse, in their skin.
As you can imagine, these barbed seeds have serious health consequences if they find their way into your dogs skin. These nasty little buggers have a way of embedding into your dogs body which can lead to irritation, and an inevitable infection. Depending on where this is on your dogs body, it can be quite a costly vet visit.
Have we scared you enough? Lets tackle how we avoid foxtails becoming a problem.
Here in Utah we most definitely have a variety of grasses that can be of issue. It’s particularly bad this year, with Park City vets seeing 2-3 dogs a day for seed removals.
In this photo that Samantha took, at the new trail in Silver Creek Village, you will see one type of problem grass.
The 1-hour rule:
The way we handle foxtails is a pretty simple 1-hour rule. First, we walk. Let the dogs have all their fun and then once we are at home the first thing we do is go over them real quick and pick off any potential foxtails or grass seeds we find.
From there we let the dogs do their normal thing for about an hour, and then we check them again. This double check system is a great way to catch some of those stragglers that might be hiding inside their fur.
It’s good to get in the habit of being doubly sure there are no seeds left on their body!
Where & What to Look For:
So where do you check for foxtails! While everywhere is an acceptable answer, here are some specific places that seem to be the most common.
- Toes: This is one of the most common areas that foxtails go unnoticed. It’s worth checking between each toe after a summer walk to make sure nothing is hiding in their fur.
They usually end up deep in between the toes up by the fleshy part of their skin.
If you find your dog licking a paw a lot after a walk, its worth doing another check to make sure something isn’t awry.
- Ears: Ears are one of the first places to chek for these sneaky burgers. A foxtail down in the ear canal can be BIG trouble if it goes unnoticed. A visual inspection is usually all you need to do the trick. These will usually be accompanied by lots of head shaking and a cockeyed ear.
- Nose: This one is quite hard to miss, as your dog will likely be sneezing up a storm.
- Legs & Armpits: You'll likely find the most seeds in the hair on your dogs legs. It's what they use to cruise through the bushes after all. But keep in mind that the armpit is another common area to see these sneaky devils hiding. Again, these will likely be up high in the crease of the armpit, towards the elbow.
Swelling is another sign that your dog may be dealing with an imbedded foxtail. This also means it’s Vet time, as it’s slowly becoming an infection which is where the trouble really starts.
Thankfully with a little diligence these little buggers are just a minor inconvenience to our summer fun, and often times nothing more. Hope that helps keep you and your pet healthy and safe for the rest of our summer fun!