Foxtails and Burrs; Hazards for your Dog

After the rains, and once we get into summer time here in Southern California, all of our weeds and grass that have grown in nice and thick, begin to dry out. Which brings out one of our main concerns; foxtails.

A foxtail is a spikelet or cluster of grass that serves to disperse its seeds as a unit. Some grasses that produce a foxtail are themselves called foxtail or also spear grass. They can become a hazard for dogs and other domestic animals and a nuisance for people.

If you look at the picture above, you will notice the sheath and spikes all along the length of it. If it gets into your dog’s nasal cavities, ears, or fur, those spikes grab on. And instead of being able to pull it out it actually digs in deeper using the spikes. Once in your dogs nasal cavity or ears, it can physically enter the body thru the muscular movements. In some cases, the nostrils’ airflow can cause the foxtail to continue to burrow into the soft tissue and organs and cause an infection and can result in death.

It is extremely important after every walk to thoroughly inspect your dog. At Sea Spot Walk, we always keep a very close eye on the dogs we walk, because we know the hazards, and we also know warning signs. If you notice that your dog is scratching at his ear or if he is sneezing and sniffing frequently it is possible that they somehow got a foxtail in them, so it is important to check them out and see if you can find it. If you can find it early, then they are easy to remove.

Burrs are also something that we find commonly here in southern California. In our grass, we tend to have a lot of burrs. Maybe you call them stickers; I think everyone has a different nickname for them. They are the really irritating little round balls with spikes on all sides. They get stuck in your dog’s fur like crazy through the summer months. And while they aren’t quite as dangerous as foxtails, in that they don’t burrow themselves, they can get stuck and become very painful.

It is important to check your dog after every walk and exposure to grass in the dry summer months.

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