Updated: Dec 26, 2020
Foxtails (also called “grass seed awns”) are widespread, entirely difficult to avoid. In fact, these can pose a real danger to your dog or cat, if left unchecked. You can identify a foxtail by its spiny shape. Foxtails are often found in open areas - hiking trails - unkempt backyards, along roadsides, in overgrown parks - and grow at the top of grass stalks. In order to lessen Foxtail injuries I'd highly recommend having your animal wear booties (I recommend Ruffwear Grip Trex).
Foxtails are found in the above-listed areas because they are designed to do one thing: burrow. This is how the wild grass is able to spread as the seed slowly works its way deep into the soil and becomes lodged when the spiky spine sets in place.
Due to this spiky spine-like shape, it has the ability to coarse through your animal's body. It's important to note that Foxtails can burrow just about anywhere. Below I have listed the most common areas and the common tells:
Ears - swelling, redness, excessive pawing at ears, sensitive to your touch, head tilt;
Paws - swelling, limping, redness, a lump that may bust and create pus;
Private Areas - excessive licking, whimpering, blood in urine;
Eyes - swelling, redness, discharge, pawing at the eye, squinting;
Nose - sneezing, gagging, difficulty breathing, sudden bad breath, discharge;
Other common tells of a Foxtail injury in animals include lethargy, lack of appetite, bleeding, and a rancid smell coming from the infected area.
It is essential to check your animals when their back from their outing, especially in summer and autumn seasons. I'd suggest using a fine-toothed comb to brush through your animal's long fur. Upon coming across a foxtail, you should be able to easily remove it with the pinch of your pointer finger and thumb or even a pair of tweezers. If you find that removing the Foxtail is difficult you must seek veterinary care immediately.