Pet Tips on 95.3 The Beach: Foxtails

Dr. Joel Conn’s segment “Pet Tips” aired Monday on 95.3 The Beach! The topic was “Foxtails.”  Tune in every Friday morning at 10:40am to hear more Pet Tips!

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This week on Pet Tips we’re going to talk about Foxtails

Foxtails are an extremely common grass weed in California that pose a serious health threat to dogs and cats.  Foxtails are most problematic during the dry months, usually April through October.  They are very sharp and have tiny spines along their length that act as barbs, allowing them to enter noses, ears, eyes, and almost any other site on the animal’s body and migrate “in” but not “out.”

 The most common symptoms caused by foxtails are acute and severe sneezing if one gets in the nose, a suddenly blinky or painful or red eye if a foxtail becomes lodged under the eyelid; swelling or development of a draining tract between the toes if one migrates between the toes or pads, and shaking of the head if one gets stuck in an ear.  Foxtails can burrow under the skin in almost any location, so symptoms can range from a lump on the skin to severe complications like pneumonia or organ failure depending on where they end up.

 Since foxtails carry bacteria with them and can quickly migrate through the body, time is of the essence.  Seek immediate veterinary care – even if the foxtail can be located and removed at home.  Foxtails in the ear or nose may need to be removed with the animal under sedation.

 Since foxtails can be so problematic once they are imbedded, prevention is important.  Keep tall grasses mowed, preferably while they are still green.  When on hikes or walks, try to avoid letting your dog walk through high grasses or weeds and stay on the path.  If your dog or cat has exposure to foxtails, check their fur regularly to remove anything before it can penetrate the skin.  Very hairy dogs may also benefit from summer grooming, including a “foxtail clip” which is a close shave of their feet and ankles.

This is Dr. Joel Conn from Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic.  I’ll be back next week with more pet tips.   For more information, visit us online at, check us out on Facebook, or come see us at 990 Price Street, Pismo Beach.   We are open 7 days a week

Veterinarian/Owner of Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic

Posted in News, Pet Tips
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