Updated with a new infographic with more life-saving information!
Foxtails are grasses with seed awns (the foxtail- shaped tip of the grass blade containing seeds). Foxtails have barbed, razor-sharp needles that are extremely dangerous to our fur kids. Nature designed them to move in one direction—forward. They dig in and they do not dissolve or come out on their own.
Foxtails easily attach themselves to adventurous fur kids and can burrow deeper and deeper with each movement. Foxtails love paws and can easily become embedded (and hidden) between tender toes. They can work their way into ANY part of the body. Foxtail fragments can easily go up the nose and migrate to the brain. Inhaled foxtails can perforate a lung.
Foxtails that go unnoticed can require surgery to be removed. Embedded foxtails can cause discharge, abscesses, swelling, pain, and death.
SAFETY TIPS: Stay out of areas with foxtails and make sure your yard doesn’t contain them. If your pet has mingled with foxtails, make sure to do a thorough inspection afterward: Brush coat, feel every part of the body with hands, and look closely at ears, nose, eyes, underbelly, between toe pads, and underneath collars. Also check inside mouth and around lips. Pets can chew on foxtail grasses and get them lodged in gums and throat. They will not dissolve or work their way out.
Any pet can get foxtails, but animals with long fur, long ears, and curly fur can be especially prone to foxtail problems.
BE AWARE OF THESE FOXTAIL SYMPTOMS: Continuous sneezing, pawing at and licking an infected area, violent shaking of head, frequently tilting head to the side, scratching at an ear incessantly, sores or abscesses, swelling, discharge, coughing, and limping.