Dogs and foxtails


What are foxtails and why is everyone telling my dog and me to watch out for them?


The wild grass or ‘wild barley’ of California, called “foxtails” have a sharp pointed seed with microscopic barbs that allow the seed to easily move in the direction of the point and not the other way. The seed’s point is very sharp and can easily penetrate the skin, nose, ears, eyes, genitals, or tonsils. Once embedded, veterinary intervention is immediately needed to search for and remove them.

Time is essential as foxtails can borrow further into the skin, nose, or throat. Depending on the location, sedation or general aesthesia may be needed, sometimes multiple times if there are numerous foxtails especially in the skin or nose. Avoidance is the best course of action.

You can find foxtails everywhere: backyards. rolling hills, parks, and even the cracks of the sidewalks. Recognize the foxtails and avoid areas where they grow. EXAMINE your dog after every walk. Use a comb or fingers to remove foxtails early, before they penetrate the skin and become a problem.