Fox Tails in dogs

Did your vet just tell you that your dog has a foxtail stuck in their skin? These are commonly found in dogs in the summer and fall. Foxtails are a plant that the seeds can get stuck, causing your dog to have wounds, draining tracts, continuously sneezing, and many other health issues.  If you live in California, it would be best to check your dog after they come inside for any foxtail seeds stuck to their skin.

What is a Fox Tail?

A foxtail is a plant that is commonly seen in the western half of the USA.  This plant has a seed head that has barbs on it. These barbs can work their way into your dog.  They have been found in your dog’s nose, inside their ears, mouths, and eyes, and even in between their toes.

These barbs do not easily break down in your dog’s body and lead to an infection.  They can also cause inflammation along their path.  Depending on where they travel, they can cause many other health issues and even death.

Signs that your dog has a foxtail

If a foxtail seed does enter your dog, it will continue to travel forward.  These never travel backward due to the barbed ends.  These can travel up your dog’s nose and into their brain. It can even be inhaled into their lungs cause a punctured lung or other damage to your dog’s respiratory tract.  If they enter your dog’s feet, they will cause inflammation and sometimes even lameness.

Common signs that are seen in a dog with foxtails for the different areas of your dog’s body are:

  • In their feet: If your dog is constantly licking their feet or your notice a draining wound, this could mean that they have stepped on a foxtail seed. They may also be limping or not walking on one of their legs
  • In their ears: If your dog is shaking their head or holding their head to one side, they may have a foxtail stuck in their ear. You may be able to see these in their ears, but many times they have migrated very far down that you need a special scope to look in your dog’s ears.
  • In their eyes: If you notice that your dog’s eyes are constantly watering, they are red, or your dog is pawing at their face, this could all be signs that your dog has a foxtail seed stuck in their eye.
  • In their nose: if you notice that your dog’s nose is constantly running or sneezing a lot, this could mean that there is a foxtail stuck up their nose. These can also cause your dog’s nose to constantly bleed. At Corona Animal Emergency Hospital, we can look up your dog’s nose and see if there are foxtails up there that need to be removed
  • In their skin: Foxtails can even get lodge in your dog’s skin. This can be in any area of your dog’s body.  You may notice that your dog has a draining wound or that they are constantly licking or scratching a certain area.

If you notice any signs that your dog may have a foxtail or are seeing any of these signs, it would be best to have your dog see with one of our veterinarians at Corona Animal Emergency Hospital.  They will be able to quickly assess what is causing your dog to show these signs and remove any foxtails that they find.

How to treat a dog with foxtails?

If your dog does have foxtails, you may be able to quickly and easily remove these from your dog at home.  Many times, you do not notice that your dog has foxtails until sometimes it is too late for you to do something at home.  This is when you need to bring your dog to the vet. Our vets at Corona Animal Emergency Hospital is here to help you remove these foxtails from your dog.

If your dog has a wound from these foxtails, your dog may have to be sedated, and these wounds explored to find the foxtails.  If your dog has one stuck in their eye, this can be removed once your dog has been sedated.

Foxtails in the nose your dog may need a rhinoscopy for your vet to be able to find these to remove them.  Your dog will most likely also need antibiotics or pain medications because of these foxtails

How to prevent your dog from getting foxtails

Many times, you can prevent severe issues from foxtails.  If you live in an area where foxtails are popular plants, it would be best to check your dog from head to tail every time they come inside from playing.  Foxtails usually grow in the field between May and December. After going for a walk in a field, it is best to brush your dog and look for any foxtails in their fur and remove them.

Also, look in your dog’s mouth, eyes, and between their toes.  If you do find any foxtails, use tweezers to remove them from your dog’s fur. If you are having any trouble removing the foxtails, come see us at Corona Animal Emergency Hospital to help you remove these foxtails from your dog.

Another great way to prevent your dog from getting a foxtail stuck it to avoid areas where there are foxtails.  During these common times of the year that foxtails are present, look for other areas that you can take your dog for a walk.

Final Thoughts

Foxtails can cause your dog to have many issues.  These can cause your dog to have swollen paws, sneezing, infected wounds, and eye issues.  If you are noticing any signs that your dog may have a foxtail stuck in them, it is best to make an appointment with one of our vets at Corona Animal Emergency Hospital.  We can remove these from your dog and help your dog start to feel much better.

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