San Jose Pet Parent's Guide

San Jose Pet Parent’s Guide | Foxtails and Your Pet Dogs and Cats

San Jose Pet Parent’s Guide

Brought to you by the veterinarians and staff at Story Road Animal Hospital

Breaking News! Local Veterinarian Declares San Jose The Foxtail Capital of The World!!

Nah! We’re just kidding about the breaking news. However, we DID hear Dr. Weiner say, “You’re having a banner year, if you’re a foxtail.”

Got Weeds?

Depending on which neck-of-the-woods you come from, people refer to foxtails as weeds, stickers, spikelets, plant seeds, grass seeds, awns, etc. Well, no matter how many different names they have, they mean only one thing; Bad news! Bad news for our dogs and cats, that is.

We’ve pulled these little trouble-makers out of nostrils, ears, eyes, gums, from in-between teeth, toes and paw pads, and even from urethra and rectums. Yeeouch!!

And these pets were the lucky ones. Some pets have to go under anesthesia in order to safely remove these little invaders that can cause big trouble.

The problem with foxtails is their design. Actually, their design is brilliant for what they are meant to do — dry up, fall off the plant, get blown around in the wind, land in some dirt, burrow deeper and deeper into soil and propagate. The problems arise when they end-up inside something other than dirt…like up your dog’s nose.

They don’t mean to cause harm. It’s just that they don’t have a brain and they don’t know when they are stuck in a dog or cat versus being stuck in the ground.

If you think your pet dog or cat may have snarfed-up a foxtail into their nose, get your pet to the vet. If left alone, the foxtail can start to burrow deeper into the soft tissue within your pet’s nostrils, or make its way through your pet’s nasal and sinus cavity all the way to the brain. Here is a snippet of a review left on Yelp from a very concerned pet parent with a veterinary background.

“…our little girl inhaled not one, but two foxtails…we were on a budget and I was terrified…”

Eyes and Ears

If you think your pet may have a foxtail, or any foreign body, stuck in their eyes or ears, get your pet to the vet before the invader has a chance to burrow any deeper causing damage to your pet’s hearing or vision.

Paws and Hairy Hiding Places

In addition to the open orifices on the head (eyes, ears, nose, and mouth) if you think your pet stepped on a foxtail and it entered the skin between their toes or in between their paw pads, get your pet to the vet. Again, we’ve seen these little invaders migrate all the way from the paw pads, through the limbs and eventually ended up in different areas of the body. We’ve also seen the tracks left behind from a foxtail that entered the dog’s body under his armpit area and migrated into his lung.

Rectum and genital area

Whoa! What? That’s just so wrong on so many levels!! Again, the foxtails missed the sign that this is a one-way road and they aren’t supposed to go there. These little weeds can stick to a fluffy tail and end-up in the rectum or in your pet’s urinary tract, bladder, even the kidney via the opening at the urethra.

What is a pet owner to do?

If possible, keep your yard and other areas you dog loves free from dried grasses, weeds, etc.

If you must go out and about where foxtails may be lying in wait…try the “Outfox Field Guard” for dogs. This has become quite popular and was invented by a dog owner right here in our bay area.

Although this doesn’t protect anything other than their noses, mouths, eyes, and ears…it is better than nothing. And dogs can still run, play, bark, drink water and even retrieve their ball or sticks during an outdoor game of fetch.

Bottom line: Be sure to check over your pet every night. Look in their ears, eyes (tear ducts and eyelids) mouth, teeth, toes, paw pads, armpits, and rectum and genital areas. Check those tails and through the super-fluffy fur on the backs of the legs as foxtails love to hide there. Use a brush or a fine tooth comb to immediately remove stickers and foxtails from their fur.

We all live, work, and play right here in San Jose. And we all have pets who we worry about during foxtail season. This is just one more of those situations where we do as many little things right that we can do right by trying to prevent foxtails in the first place. Please feel free to reach out to any of the staff members at our neighborhood animal hospital if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions. We’d be delighted to hear from you. Do you have any foxtail stories you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments below.

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