How Are Foxtails Dangerous to Dogs in Alameda, CA?

Have you ever heard of foxtails? Foxtails are a part of a plant that can be very dangerous to dogs, but some dog owners may not be aware of this concerning issue. Your dog may risk encountering foxtails more easily than in some other locations, especially in Alameda.

dogs and foxtails in alameda, ca

In the article below, you’ll find out more information about foxtails, including the risks they can pose to your dog. Keep this information in mind as you let your dog spend time outdoors, and make sure to check thoroughly for foxtails. If you have any questions, call Providence Veterinary Hospital & Clinic at (510) 521-6608 or (510) 521-5775.

What Are Foxtails?

The term “foxtails” actually refers to the seed portion of the foxtail plant, which is a small, barbed, sticky seed pod. These seed pods can be found in nature anywhere that foxtails grow, which includes most of the Western portion of the United States as well as some other parts of the US as well.

Foxtails stick onto a dog’s fur and may stick to the skin if they travel far enough to do so. However, this is only the start of the problem, and they can quickly lead to much more serious issues.

How Do Dogs Pick Up Foxtails?

Dogs can pick up foxtails by coming into contact with the foxtail plant. This most often happens in areas that are not kept up very well, since foxtail plants are a type of weed. If you take a lot of hikes in the woods with your dog, for example, they may be at an increased risk of picking up foxtails.

Foxtails cling onto a dog’s fur when they pass by the plants that release them. They may also be found in other areas after they have been released by the plant, but this is less common. Any dog who spends time in nature in areas where foxtails grow is susceptible.

What Are the Risks of Foxtails?

Foxtails travel forward through a dog’s body

Once they embed themselves in the skin, they can start moving forward and do not stop. This means that, although a foxtail may begin in the skin near your dog’s chest, it can make its way through your dog’s body and into their lungs or other organs. They can travel to the brain, heart, and any other part of a dog’s body.

Foxtails can cause abscesses and severe infection

If a foxtail becomes embedded in your dog’s skin, it may lead to an abscess. This can, in turn, cause an increased risk of systemic infection for your dog. These are often some of the first signs owners notice that lead them to the discovery of the foxtail.

Foxtails can cause extreme pain

Dogs who are suffering from a foxtail embedded in their skin may be in a lot of pain. If your dog is limping or is licking an area without stopping, this may be a sign that they’re hurting, and a foxtail could be the culprit.

Foxtails can cause organ damage

The longer a foxtail goes untreated, the more likely it will be to cause organ damage. They can travel to the organs of your dog’s body and may perforate those organs, causing internal bleeding, lung collapse, and many other life-threatening problems. They can also travel to your dog’s brain in the same way.

Foxtails can lead to death if left untreated

Dogs have died from foxtails. This is why it is absolutely crucial for you to check your dog for any signs of foxtails and take them to the vet if you notice symptoms including the following:

Signs of pain

Look for limping or favoring certain parts of the body. Check areas your dog may be licking more often than normal, including the genital area.

Swelling and redness of the skin

This may indicate an infection forming.

Head tilting or shaking

Dogs may get foxtails in their ears which can cause these symptoms.

Pawing at the face or eyes

Foxtails may get into the eyes and cause these symptoms.

Discharge from the nose

Dogs can sometimes inhale foxtails, which causes discharge from the nose.

How To Help Your Dog

As you can see, there are many concerns associated with foxtails, and some of them may be more obvious in affected dogs than others. It’s important to take time to check your dog thoroughly for foxtails after they have been outdoors, since they can quickly become a problem if you don’t notice them in time.

If you find a foxtail on your dog and you are unable to easily remove it, contact a vet right away. It is important to get prompt veterinary care for your dog to remove the foxtail safely and to prevent further damage. Call us at (510) 521-6608 or (510) 521-5775.

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Providence Veterinary Hospital & Clinic serve Alameda, CA as well as Oakland, San Leandro, and the surrounding areas with superb veterinary medicine and gentle, compassionate care. We’ve been a part of this community since 1947 when a veterinarian started seeing pets in his home after the end of World War II. He built an animal hospital right under his house, and that’s where we remain to this day (with modern remodeling in 2016, to outfit the hospital with the latest medical technology and equipment, of course!).

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