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Foxtails in Colorado Dogs: How to Protect Your Pup

July 28th, 2016 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

Border Collies, like Benny, are at risk for foxtails in their ears if they play in unkempt fields or grass.

Our Castle Rock veterinarians see a lot of cases of foxtails in Colorado dogs during the late summer – particularly foxtails in dogs’ ears.

Foxtail plants and spear grass are weeds that pose a health risk to your dog. Both grassy plants have pointed, burrowing seeds that can latch onto your dog. If left untreated, the seeds work their way inward. The seeds can cause wounds to your dog’s skin. Ultimately, they can even cause internal damage, getting into your dog’s ear canal, chest cavity or blood stream.

Photo of foxtails

We’re here to help your furry friend avoid all of that!

We’ve created this article to answer your questions. While foxtails and spear grass create similar issues, we’ve focused on foxtails because their seeds can be tougher to remove.

Are there foxtails in Colorado?

Yes, you can find foxtails in Colorado, including in the Castle Rock area.

Where do foxtails grow?

Foxtails tend to grow in places with native grasses. You’ll find them in unkempt areas (such as in open spaces and overgrown lawns), along trails and even alongside Plum Creek.

Closeup photo of single foxtail

When is foxtail season?

Your dog can pick up a foxtail seed throughout the year. With that said, our veterinarians see multiple cases a week during the months of July, August, September and October.

When the plants dry, they shed their seeds.

 Do you think your dog has a foxtail in an ear, paw or somewhere else?

If you live in Castle Rock or the Denver area, call us at 303-688-3757.

Are certain types of Colorado dogs more vulnerable to foxtails?

Dogs of all sizes can pick up foxtail seeds. If your dog walks in the grasses along Plum Creek or in areas with uncut grasses, your pup is at risk. Our veterinarians have seen cases of foxtails in dogs’ paws, foxtails in dogs’ ears, and even foxtails in dogs’ noses!

Longer-hair dogs also have a tendency to get them stuck in their hair.

How can I prevent foxtails from affecting my dog?

  • Keep your pup out of the weeds.
  • If your dog walks in the weeds or un-mowed areas, check his or her ears, nose and paws to look for seeds when you return home.
  • If you have a dog with long hair, brush your pup or thoroughly pet your dog after your outings to feel for the seeds and get them out.

What’s the best way to remove foxtails from a dog?

If you see a potential issue, deal with it quickly. It’s best to get the seeds out before they work their way inward. Use your fingers to pull out the seeds.

If you can’t get the seeds out with your fingers, it’s time to call our veterinary clinic.

What are signs of foxtail issues in dogs?

  • Foxtails in dogs’ ears: You may notice your dog is shaking his head almost constantly (more than you’d see with an ear infection). Unfortunately, the shaking drives the seed inward. Ultimately, the seed can puncture the eardrum and keep on going. Plus, with the head shaking, your dog becomes more prone to ruptured blood vessels and ear swelling.
  • Foxtails in dogs’ noses: You may notice constant sneezing, a clear discharge (or a thick, bloody discharge) from the nose, and your pup pawing at his nose.
  • Foxtails in dogs’ paws: The seeds can cause abrasions, sores or deep wounds on your pup’s paws or in between the toes. You also may notice your dog is limping.
  • Foxtails in dogs’ skin: If your dog is constantly scratching or chewing at an area, he may have a seed that’s irritating him. You also may see a sore or a wound. (Longer-hair dogs are especially vulnerable.)

Unfortunately, you can’t tell whether a seed has entered your dog’s body until it causes a problem. Always let our veterinarians know if your dog has been walking in unkempt, grassy areas.

What does foxtail treatment look like?

The answer depends on where the seed is and how severe the issue is.

If your dog has a seed between his or her toes, the treatment may include removing the seed and giving your dog antibiotics. If there’s a massive wound or the seed is in your dog’s ear, be prepared. Your dog will likely need to be sedated to remove the seed.

Rest easy, we’ll keep you informed and take great care of your furry friend.

 Get backup on that foxtail in your dog!

Our veterinarians are here to help your dog get well and avoid serious issues.

If you live in Castle Rock or the Denver area, call us at 303-688-3757.

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Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on foxtails in Colorado dogs. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, we welcome your call.)

© 2016, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

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