Foxtails, the seed-bearing structures of a variety of grasses with microscopic barbs at one end, are in their green state now but soon will dry and become a danger. Foxtail grasses grow all over the greater Bay Area in open spaces and along many trails. These ubiquitous, seemingly innocent pieces of Mother Nature can be very dangerous to our dogs. They can penetrate their toes and migrate through feet and legs or be sniffed into the nose, causing violent and bloody sneezing. We also have found them in eyes and ears and penetrating through the eardrum, into the lungs and even into the spinal cord with potentially fatal results.
Some families choose to have their dog clipped short for the season to limit the chance for foxtails to be a problem. If you and your dog have been in a high-risk area and he begins to sneeze hard, has a bloody nose, is shaking his head or licking a swelling on his feet, seek veterinary attention right away. These little monsters can be hard to find and remove, so the sooner they can be found, the less potential damage they can cause.
—Thanks to Muller Veterinary Hospital’s Erin Troy, DMV, for this tip. Read the extended text here.