Taking a dog on a walk is a real joy in the spring and summer, but it can also potentially expose your dog to hidden hazards. One of these potential hazards are foxtails, a specific type of weed that can cause serious harm to your dog's health. If you're planning on walking in any kind of overgrown or woodsy areas in the near future, read on to learn about foxtails and how to protect your dog from them.
What Foxtails Are
Foxtails are a specific type of weed that you've probably seen before. They're called foxtails because they resemble the tail of a fox, and are spiky, leading to them getting stuck to clothing and fur. Foxtails are extremely common all over the United States, appearing everywhere from woodsy areas to your own backyard.
How a Foxtail Can Hurt Your Dog
As mentioned, foxtails can cling to just about anything. This is the main way that they're able to cause harm. When foxtails get stuck to your dog, they can be ingested or even inhaled. Unfortunately, due to the spiky and sharp nature of a foxtail, they don't go down smoothly.
If a foxtail is ingested by your dog, it can actually make its way into the wall of the intestines or stomach. Foxtails can be digested, but if they puncture the wall of your dog's intestines prior to making it to the stomach acid, they can cause a tear in the lining of your dog's intestines. This can lead to a severe infection, pain, and internal bleeding.
If foxtails are inhaled, matters are even worse. They can again embed themselves, except this time either in the windpipe or the lungs. This can not only cause an infection and bleeding, but it can make it extremely hard for your dog to breathe.
Preventing the Problem
Since foxtails can be found nearly anywhere, there's no 100% certain way to protect your dog from encountering them. However, if you see foxtails in the areas where you walk your dog, you should consider finding a new place to walk your dog. The less often it's exposed to foxtails, the better.
To increase your dog's chances of coming away from an encounter with foxtails unharmed, make sure to carefully examine your dog after walks and after it goes outside. Check its fur and face for foxtails. If any are found, carefully remove them and throw them away where a dog can't get to them.
If you ever find a foxtail embedded in your dog's skin or see one disappearing into your dog's nose or mouth, get to a veterinarian immediately. Doing so could mean the difference between a prolonged hospitalization and a quick medical procedure to extract it. For more information on dog care, contact a veterinarian clinic in your area.