Pets: Weeds called Foxtails are common in Michigan and can pose a special risk to dogs
flickr photo by crystalline radical
This is my favorite time of year to walk dogs. Abundant sunshine and cooler temperatures lend themselves to a fun outing with your dog out in the woods — a great way to get exercise and spend time together. Most dogs like to run and dart off into the brush, sniffing as they meander around.
It's important when fun time is over to examine your dog thoroughly. Looking for ticks is crucial, of course, but there is another caveat to outdoor fun, especially for long-haired dogs, like Golden Retrievers. A wild grass called foxtails are notorious for hitching a ride and embedding themselves easily into tangles of fur, but they can pose a bigger risk: digging into openings in the skin. If this happens, big problems can ensue. and surgical removal may become necessary.
Three common places foxtails enter the body are the ears, nose and paws, so if your pooch spends a lot of time outdoors in fields or brushy areas, examining these areas is very important.
Paws: Keep the fur trimmed on the underside of the paws and check frequently. Limping may be an indicator that there's an issue.
Nose: Dogs are habitual sniffers. Any signs of sneezing, pawing, discharge from the nose or blood is cause for concern. The burr can make its way to further into the nasal cavity and, in some rare cases, has done so into the brain.
Ears: When dogs get an irritation in their ear, their first instinct is to shake their heads. But with every shake, the foxtail burr can travel further into the ear and cause permanent damage.
Most of the burrs can be removed safely with a comb after returning home. But in cases where you see that one may have gotten under the skin, or you're unable to remove it, get to a veterinarian immediately for treatment. Infection can set in quickly, and the discomfort and pain caused by the tiny barbs is awful.Click here for more on the dangers of foxtails and dogs from the Whole Dog Journal.