If you haven't noticed, it’s foxtail season in the Ojai Valley. Foxtails grow at the top of grass stalks and are most often found in open areas such as hiking trails, along roadsides, in overgrown fields, and . . .
even your own backyard. They they look similar to the tail of a fox, with layers of upward-facing spines protruding from the center.
The foxtail variety most prevalent in our area is called Hordeum murinum or "Wild Barley". They are annuals and are generally soft and green (and mostly harmless) January through April. But when May comes around, the barbed seed heads begin to dry, and that is when these plants become dangerous to your pet, and remain dangerous throughout the summer and early fall.
What makes foxtails so dangerous?
Foxtails are a sneaky specimen as they can embed into your pet’s fur as they brush past. Due to the unique shape of this seed, it’s always moving forward, never backward. They move forward through your pet's skin, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, lungs, and in between toes. Once in the fur, they can travel deeper into their body and cause infections and ruptured eardrums. Over 60% of foxtails are embedded in the ear, nose, or paw.
How do I prevent my pet from being harmed by foxtails?
What do I do if I suspect my pet has a foxtail?
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to remove the foxtail. Never attempt to remove a foxtail yourself as the dangerous barbs can break off inside your pet's skin, leading to an abscess or even the migration to an internal organ. If the seed has created a pus-filled abscess, your pup may require surgery for its removal.
If the cost of a vet visit seems a bit overwhelming, look into Pet Insurance for your little ones. Does that task seem daunting? No worries! I've already done research on 6 top Pet Insurers in my previous blog titled "Which Pet Insurance is Right for You?" .
Hi! I'm Brandy, owner of The Peaceful Pup, a premium pet care business in beautiful Ojai, California. We're bringing peace of mind to pets and their people, one visit at a time!