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One of the BIGGEST dangers out in the wild is not what you may think…it is a grass that produces a spikey seed that seems to be innocuous. NEVER underestimate the dangers of a foxtail when it comes to your pet! These grasses' spikelets (diaspores) can cause irreparable damage and even DEATH to your pet. Many of the foxtails are of the barley or millet family. The spikelets have a hard spikey head that is similar to an arrowhead (it is called a callus) and this is what can enter your pet's ear, nose, get stuck between the pads, etc. They have a natural coating on them that contains a type of bacterium with enzymes. This can cause an infection once it enter your pet! EEK!

A friend's Frenchie, Midge, had just such a thing happen. Midge's mama had NO idea what was wrong when she noticed that there was this large protrusion on the side of Midge's face/neck. Upon going to the vet, nothing could be found. The swelling increased, and Midge ended up on antibiotics. This did not help. Midge ended up with x-rays, MRIs, and it wasn't until a specialist CUT her OPEN that the cause of the entire swelling was found. It was…a foxtail. Left alone? Midge would have died.

Another friend's dog DID die from a foxtail entering his nostril.

So, please, be sure to look where you walk your pets and do a careful check after each walk.

Here are the pictures of Midge, courtesy of Kristin Moon, and the resulting sutures from her foxtail mishap.


Some possible signs of a foxtail problem…

Ears: If your dog shakes his/her head or tilts the head, there may be a foxtail in the ear. It may appear that the dog has an ear infection. Take your dog to the vet.

Eyes: If your dog's eye is glued shut or has a gummy discharge that is unusual, take your dog to the vet (preferably the EYE doctor).

Nose: Repeatedly sneezing or spasm-like sneezing? Chances are good that there's a foxtail in the nose. Take your dog to the vet.

Mouth: If your dog can't swallow or is constantly gagging or hacking, there may be a foxtail stuck somewhere in the mouth (back of the tongue, between the teeth, back of the throat, etc.). Take your dog to the vet.

Paws: If your dog is constantly licking the feet or chewing on the feet, or you see a weird swelling between the pads…there may be a foxtail stuck; particularly if you see pus! Take your dog to the vet.

Weird bulging spots/private areas/etc.: If you notice ANYTHING that is out of the ordinary, and you have walked your dog in areas that may have had foxtails, do not hesitate to take your dog to the vet! Remember Midge…and the pictures you saw here!

The bottom line is this…when in doubt, have your vet check it out!

©2009–2016 Beach Angel Chelsea & Sherry Skipper Spurgeon. All Rights Reserved.

Pictures of Midge used with permission.

Clip art from DJ Inkers is used with permission.

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