Foxtail Grass Dangerous to Dogs

Things You Should Know About Gardening

by: Marilyn Pokorney

  • If you have dogs, keep the foxtail out of your lawn!


    Foxtail is a common annual grass usually considered a weed.
    It grows one to three feet tall, with branching and some
    spreading at ground level. Leaf blades are 4 to 15 inches
    long. Flower heads are dense spikes with yellow to reddish,
    green or purplish bristles. As foxtail matures, seeds are
    formed at the top of the stalk. The bushy seeds are what
    gives the plant the name of "foxtail".

    When mature, the seeds detach easily from the plant. This
    is natures way of making sure that the plant reproduces.
    The seeds easily cling to clothing, fur, and hair. The
    seeds always move forward thus penetrating the skin.

    The seeds found in the ears, eyes and nose are very serious
    and can become life threatening. But no body part is
    immune. The seeds have been found in the urethra, vagina,
    anal glands, brain, and spinal cord. In one case a
    veterinarian found the seed in the lung but the original
    site of entry was the paw. The seeds also gain entry
    through open wounds.

    Foxtail seeds are very tiny so veterinarians usually go by
    symptoms.

    If in the nasal cavity, the dog sneezes repeatedly and
    violently often hitting the nose on the floor. If a bloody
    discharge is noticed assume it's a foxtail seed.

    If in the eye, the dog paws at the eye and the eye waters.
    If an eye is glued shut it is most likely a foxtail seed.

    If the seed is in the ear the dog shakes its head violently
    from side to side. Sometimes the dog paws a the eyes or
    ear, shaking the head and squints.

    In the mouth foxtail seeds can cause gagging or difficulty
    swallowing. If the seed gets caught between the teeth, in
    the gums, back of throat, or tongue problems can result.

    If the seed lodges in the paw or under the coat a lump will
    form that is painful to the touch. Other symptoms include
    rubbing the head on the ground and going round in circles,
    licking or biting at the rectum or other body parts, or
    yelping or shining for no obvious reason.

    Foxtail seeds can cause fatalities when they reach internal
    organs.

    In any case, do not attempt to treat the animal yourself.
    Get professional help.

    Get rid of all foxtail in your lawn or yard. If foxtail
    grows in your yard mow the grass often, especially in late
    spring when the plant grows most rapidly. This prevents the
    plant from ever setting seed.

    Avoid parks, or other recreational areas where you know
    foxtail grows.

    Always brush and inspect your dogs coat after being in
    grassy areas. Dogs with long hair are even more likely to
    attract the seeds than shorthaired breeds.

    Examine your dogs eyes and ears.

    For more information on how to control foxtail:

    http://www.apluswriting.net/garden/foxtails.htm

    About the author:

    Author: Marilyn Pokorney
    Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the
    environment.
    Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.
    Website: http://www.apluswriting.net


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