It's FOXTAIL Season again... Foxtails are a type of barbed grass that looks a bit like wheat. See photo:




CHECK YOUR DOG for these nasty bits of grass after every walk!! These awful weeds are becoming more and more prevalent in Basel and Baselland, and I imagine all over Switzerland and Europe. Those golden hills of California?? Yep, all foxtails!! Once established, they're not easy to get rid of. When they dry out in autumn and winter turning golden yellow, they break more easily and remain extremely dangerous. See the dry pieces in the photo above that break off and scatter all over the ground.


Each single "hair" of the foxtail is coated in tiny barbs and they only move in one direction -- further inside!


Foxtails closeupjpg


A dog happily trotting and sniffing through the grass on a parking strip can easily break off a piece of the foxtail and this can get into the dog's ears, eyes, nostrils, mouth, between the toes or pads of the feet or even just get swept up by the wagging tail into the fur. Do NOT ignore a foxtail and hope it will "work it's way out" -- IT WON'T!!!

They can be tricky to see in dogs with curly or thick coats, but it's especially important to check as thoroughly as possible. 

WEBMD published a VERY INFORMATIVE short article about Foxtails and the Danger to your Dog. You can read the full article here:

 I am copying directly quoted information from the article here (just in case the link disappears):


"Foxtails and Your Dog: Risks and Symptoms


Foxtails travel. Moving relentlessly forward, never back, they can migrate from inside your dog's nose to its brain. They can dig through skin or be inhaled into -- and then perforate -- a lung.

Embedded foxtails can cause discharge, abscesses, swelling, pain, and death. If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, check for foxtails or talk to your vet:

    Feet:  Foxtails love your dog's feet and can easily become embedded between tender toes. Check for foxtails if you notice swelling or limping or if your dog is constantly licking the area.

 Ears: If your pooch is shaking their head, tilting it to the side, or scratching incessantly at an ear, this could be the sign of a foxtail -- one that may be so deep inside the ear canal you can't see it. Your veterinarian needs to take a look using a special scope.

    Eyes:  Redness, discharge, swelling, squinting, and pawing all may be signs your dog has a foxtail lodged in its eye. If you think this may be the case, seek veterinary care immediately.

    Nose: If you see discharge from the nose, or if your dog is sneezing frequently and intensely, there may be a foxtail lodged in a nasal passage.

    Genitals: Foxtails can find their way into these areas, too. So if you notice your dog persistently licking at its genitals, foxtails could be the cause.


Tips for Preventing Foxtail Problems 

Any dog can get foxtails in the ears, nose, eyes, or mouth. But dogs with long ears and curly hair can be especially prone to foxtail problems. Prevent issues by: 

    Examining your pet's coat during foxtail season -- generally late spring through late fall -- especially if you've gone walking in open fields. Brush your dog as necessary, looking especially closely for pointy foxtail awns in your dog's thick or feathery fur.

    Check your pup's face and ears carefully for foxtails. Don't forget to look in and around your pooch's mouth and gums.

    Carefully check your dog's paw pads for foxtails -- especially between the toes.

    Use tweezers to remove any foxtails you can easily get to. But if a foxtail is deeply embedded, or if the area around it is red or swollen, call your veterinarian right away. Remember, foxtails won't come out on their own, and they can burrow into the brain, spine, eardrums, lungs -- actually, anywhere.

 The easiest way to prevent foxtail problems is to keep your dog out of overgrown, grassy areas. You should also pull out any foxtail plants you find in your yard. Also consider trimming your dog's hair during foxtail season, especially if it tends to persistently get foxtails in one spot.

 I hope you found this post helpful. My sister-in-law designed and developed a mesh hood to protect her dogs from foxtails in California. The Outfox Fieldguard has become popular internationally not only against foxtails, but also keeping dogs safe from picking up and eating things they shouldn't. Dogs can see perfectly well through the hoods and can even drink through them. Here's a link to the Outfox website: