Foxtail grass can be fatal: Keep your dog away

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Foxtail plants can be risky for your dog, and in some cases, even fatal, according to veterinary experts

The dried grass seedlings with little barbs on them can invade a dog's body through any opening, and once inside they can damage tissue, cause infection and can potentially be lethal if left untreated. Foxtails can dig deep into your dog's nostril or ear canal or under the skin in no time, and often so fast you don't notice them.

Foxtails are widespread throughout California and because of the state's record wet winter, this summer is expected to be a challenging foxtail season.

Signs your pet has had an encounter with foxtails:

  • Violent sneezing
  • Non-healing draining tracts (openings in the skin from which discharge drains)
  • Excessive licking
  • Squinting
  • Head shaking
  • Chewing
  • Scratching
  • Lethargy

Animal health specialists recommend that if your pet is exhibiting any of the above behaviors or showing other signs of an irritating foreign body, seek veterinary care immediately.

According to the American Kennel Club, trimming weeds and keeping pets away from the plant is the most common sense approach to prevent a dog's exposure to foxtails. If your dog does encounter foxtails, make sure to carefully comb through its coat, checking around the ears, mouth, nose and between toes to ensure you remove them before they have a chance to invade your pet's body.