How To Protect Your Dog From Foxtails

By September 22 | See Comments

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Foxtails are weeds that bloom in the spring. Although they seem harmless, foxtails can be really painful for dogs once they penetrate the skin. Not only can they bring excruciating pain, but they can also be a health hazard causing severe damage to your dog’s health. They can be found everywhere in nature, from parks to city sidewalks.By following these simple tips, you can help protect your dog as well as avoid a trip to the vet’s emergency room.

Get Rid Of Foxtails In Your Backyard

You may not be able to get rid of all the foxtails that grow in public places, but you have control over what grows in your own yard. One way to do this is to trim or mow the tall grass that’s growing in your backyard. Another way to do this is to use herbicide. Make sure to use the least toxic herbicide available. You can also try burning the foxtail infected area under professional supervision.

Watch Where Your Dog Goes

Walking your dog outside during the warmer months can be like navigating through a landmine. First, go out on a walk by yourself to scope out all the danger zones where foxtails are prevalent. Then when you walk your dog, avoid going to parks, fields, yards and even parking lots and sidewalks that might have foxtail present. If your dog doesn’t mind, then put on some protective gear like dog booties for paw protection.

Pay Attention To Your Dog’s Coat

Just like checking for ticks, make sure you check your dog for foxtails after every walk. To check for foxtail, start by running a slicker brush through his coat. Next, gently run your fingers through each of his toe and paw pads, around the ears, armpits, and tail. Foxtail feels stiffer and sharper than regular hair, so it should be easy to recognize it. If you do happen to stumble upon a foxtail, try to dislodge it gently. Another method is using a flea comb on your dog after walks. A flea comb not only checks for foxtails but also fleas and ticks.

Trim Your Dog’s Hair

Trimming your dog’s hair in the summer will help him keep cool during these warm months and also prevent foxtails from latching onto his coat. Shorter hair is harder to latch on to. Foxtails are less likely to stick to short hair than long. To be extra cautious, you can use a trimmer to groom the hair between his toes and in his ears.

Keep Your Vet’s Number Handy

Watch out for these symptoms to know when to call a vet:

  • Excessively licking his paws
  • Shaking his head
  • Holding an eye shut or squinting
  • Excessive sneezing or nasal discharge (foxtail stuck in nasal cavities)
  • Fever and abdominal pain (foxtail migrating into abdominal cavity)
  • Difficulty urinating (foxtail lodged in the urethra)

Foxtails can penetrate any body system, making them that much more dangerous to your pets. Taking adequate precautions to prevent contact is the best defense against this plant. 

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