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Why Foxtail Grass is a Threat to Pets in the Summer

Foxtail grasses are tall weeds that look like wild wheat or barley. They dry out in the summer, and their seed pods, which look like barbs, can burrow into your pet’s skin or lodge in their eyes, ears, nose, or throat and cause serious health problems. Here’s a look at why foxtail grasses are such a threat to pets in the summer.

Health Problems Caused by Foxtails

Once foxtail barbs get attached to your pet’s skin or are ingested, they begin to burrow. They can quickly puncture skin and tissues, and burrow deeper into the eyes, ears, nose, or throat. They can even eventually damage the organs. Without swift treatment, your pet is at risk of infections, chronic illnesses or health problems, organ failure, and death.

Protecting Your Pets This Summer

Check your yard for weeds, grasses, and foxtails this summer. Avoid areas where foxtails are common, like fields, trails, empty lots, roadsides, salt marshes, and meadows. Keep your dog on-leash when you’re outside, and only allow your cat outside with supervision. Keep your pet’s hair trimmed or shaved to make it easier to see foxtails if they get stuck on your pet. Check your pet regularly for signs of foxtails, including between their toes, inside their ears, and under their tail. If you see even one foxtail barb, bring your pet to the veterinarian.

Watch for Signs of Foxtail Exposure

If you notice any of these signs of foxtail exposure or ingestion, take your pet to a veterinary clinic right away:

●      Redness, swelling, irritation, or signs of infection in the skin, ears, eyes, or throat.

●      Limping, licking paws or skin, or acting like he is in pain.

●      Coughing, gagging, or wheezing.

●      Sneezing, especially with blood or mucus.

●      Head tilting or shaking or pawing at the ears, especially when there is discharge or drainage from the ears.

●      Scratching or pawing at an area.

●      Nasal, eye, ear, or throat discharge 

Visit an emergency veterinary clinic right away if you notice any of these symptoms or see foxtail barbs on your pet.

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