Summer time is right around the corner which offers the perfect weather for road trips, sunsets, ice cream, beaches, hikes, and... foxtails! You may be wondering “what is that?!” A foxtail is a very common meadow grass seed in California that has soft, brush-like flowering spikes. These can be very dangerous for our pets and are more prevalent than most think. Here are some examples of what foxtails look like:
Foxtails burrow their way through the soil and lie freely on the ground outside. Just like foxtails burrow into your socks when you walk through tall grass, they can easily burrow their way through fur and into skin. Foxtails are also often sniffed into the nose or caught in the ear or the eye! Once a foxtail gets stuck, it can travel very deep because of its arrow-head like shape. Foxtails often carry bacteria, causing an abscess. This can be very painful and your pet will begin to show signs of discomfort such as licking, limping, sneezing, rubbing or chewing.
Here is an example of what a foxtail in the eye looks like:
This pet's name is Cobain and as you can see, his left eye is obviously causing discomfort. After being outside for just one day, his owner found him like this. The eye was very swollen and painful. A topical anesthetic was used to numb the eye, then Dr.Stambaugh was able open the eye and under the eyelid there was a foxtail!
Here are some common tools used in the veterinary hospital to remove foxtails:
The doctor will need an otoscope to look down the pets ears and nose, or an ophthalmoscope to look in the eyes. Once the foxtail is found we will then clip, clean, and flush the wound. Alligator forceps are a long, narrow instrument with a grasping end used to remove the foxtail from deep inside wounds. Because foxtails are painful and can burrow very deep, sometimes sedation and pain medication are needed to help a pet tolerate these types of procedures.
As you are enjoying this summer season be on the lookout for these golden, brush-like spikes known as foxtails!
Our technicians and doctors write posts for this blog, hoping to keep our clients informed and entertained. We hope you find their topics helpful and fun to read about!