Foxtail Dangers: Safety Tips for Hiking & Outdoor Exploration with Pets

Foxtail Dangers: Safety Tips for Hiking & Outdoor Exploration with Pets

With the continuing need to avoid crowded places to promote public health and safety, more and more people are spending their free time recreating with their pets in the great outdoors. Whether you drive to the ocean shore, the lake, or take a hike in the hills, you’ll be doing your best to keep you and your dogs safe from COVID-19, but you might be exposing your pets to other, more wild dangers like heat exhaustion and exposure to fleas and ticks. One of the lesser-known, but more common risks of outdoor recreation that you should be aware of before loading up your pets and heading out into the great unknown are foxtails.

What Are Foxtails and Where Do They Grow?

Grasslike weeds, foxtails grow in abundance every spring and summer. You’ll find them in just about every untended (and even in some well-tended) grassy areas. They grow in fields, brushy areas, meadows, the wilderness, and even sprout up in sidewalk cracks.

How Can a Foxtail Be Dangerous for a Pet?

Foxtail seeds have a fishhook-like shape. Unfortunately, these seeds are also the perfect shape for sticking to a dog’s fur. Foxtail seeds can get stuck in dogs’ fur, between their toes, in their ears, up their noses, in and around their mouths, and even on their eyelids. With their sharp design, the seeds expertly burrow into the pet’s skin and have been known to work their way into the body. Left unattended, errant foxtails stuck to a dog can lead to serious problems, like infection, punctured lungs, or other organ damage.

Foxtail Safety and Prevention

The best way to prevent your pet from picking up foxtails is to avoid them. Trim your yard. When hiking, keep your dog away from the brush. (This will help prevent parasites, too!) Brush your pet after outdoor play and inspect them for foxtails. Check between the toes on each paw, legs, bellies, face, mouth, eyes, ears, and tail.

Signs Your Pet's Suffering from a Foxtail Barb

Symptoms of foxtail irritation differ depending on where the barb is embedded.
If you’re worried your pet might have an embedded foxtail, we encourage you to contact Pacific Pet Hospital right away. Our Chula Vista veterinarian will promptly remove the foxtail to prevent any complications.