Foxtail in Dog’s Ears, Nose, or Paws – How to Remove Safely

Your dog might love to run and play outside, but there are some dangers outside you might not realize or have heard about before. One danger to a dog is the foxtail plant, and this plant could potentially be life-threatening to your dog if he gets the barbed seeds stuck on him.

This guide will tell you what the foxtail plant is, the symptoms you may notice, and how you can remove foxtail before it becomes a major problem for your dog.

What Are Foxtail Plants?

A lot of people haven’t heard of foxtail plants before, which is due to them being found mostly within the western section of the United States. Foxtail plants are similar to grass, although it’s actually a weed. This particular weed contains heads that have barbed seeds on them. They are similar to cactus plants in that these barbed seeds can pierce the skin and become stuck on a dog.

Foxtail plants are dangerous for dogs due to a couple of different issues caused by these barbed seeds. These barbed seeds can get stuck on your dog in a number of locations including the paws, nose, and ears. When it comes to your dog’s fur, it can be hard to find these barbed seeds embedded within the layers. It will cause pretty bad irritation to the skin, but the biggest issue is more serious than simple skin irritation. These seeds don’t breakdown either, which means a serious life-threatening infection can occur if not treated properly and quickly.

Symptoms for Dogs that Have Foxtails

The ears are the most common area for foxtail to be present, with paws being second, and nose being the third most common area. If your dog has foxtail in his ears, you might notice pawing at the ears, head tiling, and excessive shaking of the head. Discharge and redness of the ears and wimping when you attempt to rub near the ears is also a sign.

If the foxtail is found on or in the paws, you might notice a lot of paw licking and some limping when your dog walks. The paw might also be swollen or have swollen areas of skin between toes, and sometimes these swollen areas will have a pus discharge. The symptoms for a dog that has Foxtail on or in his nose is pretty easy to see since there will be a lot of sneezing, coughing, gagging, and bad breath. Discharge might also come out from the nose, which might contain blood, although it doesn’t always have blood with it.

How to Remove Foxtail from Your Dog

Removing foxtail from your dog is fairly simple as long as you own a fine-toothed comb. If you don’t have a fine-toothed comb, they are inexpensive to purchase from any retail or pet store. You will want to run the comb through all of the different sections of the fur giving a lot of attention to the three main entry points. Those three entry points are the ears, paws, and nose, so make sure you look over this area very thoroughly.

Removing can be done with a brush or fine-toothed comb, but you can also use your fingers or tweezers. Whichever tools that your dog doesn’t mind being used are the tools you should use to remove the foxtail. If you do see foxtail and you cannot remove it easily or your dog is showing other symptoms, you should head to the veterinarian as soon as possible. The veterinarian will have the tools to remove any embedded materials, and also manage any pain associated with the embedded foxtail.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


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