Monday, January 9, 2012
We have several new readers and I don't know how many of you remember that when we went south we had quite the episode with the RV! It was REALLY windy while we were barreling down the interstate when all of a sudden, we heard this huge crackling / ripping type noise!! We slowed down and pulled off to the side of the highway as best we could. It turns out that the awning was being unraveled and pulled out of its housing. We had to do something and QUICK! We slowly creeped along another 500 feet or so and pulled safely out of harm's way. Both of us jumped out...after securing the girlz. I held the "stick" thing that rolls the awning up, while Ben climbed up on the roof and tried to fix the problem from there. We managed between the two of us to get it wind-proofed enough to get to our next destination.
By this time, the girlz were going CRAZY as they do not like to stop along the highway. And they certainly do not like us to stop and get out WITHOUT them!! So....knowing that they had to GO. I put them both on their leashes and lifted them onto the grassy area where they could do their business. This happened along the roadway somewhere between North Carolina and South Carolina...I can't remember exactly where. Little did I know that there are hidden dangers in the south...little buggers called Foxtails!!
I've compiled a bit of info about them...just thought it might help someone else!! Seriously....I almost passed out after I read about these awful things!!
Foxtails, or grass awns, are arrow-shaped stickers that are produced by some types of grasses that have gone to seed. Foxtails carry grass seeds. They evolved to embed in the skin and be spread by animals.
Foxtails cause a large number of problems for pets. Their shape promotes deep penetration into, as well as movement (migration) within the skin. Foxtails have the potential to cause infection and irritation in any area of the body in which they occur.
Foxtails commonly embed in the skin, ears, eyes, and nose. They may lodge in the throat!! Foxtails can migrate throughout the body, causing irritation and infection in the lungs, heart, and other internal organs.
The skin and the area under the skin are the most common sites for foxtails in pets. The most frequently affected areas are the feet (especially the webbed areas between the toes) and the anterior portions of the chest and shoulders. Foxtails embedded in or under the skin cause swelling, pain, redness, and drainage of clear or bloody fluid from the site. Pets often lick the affected area of skin, and hair loss may occur. Limping is common if a foxtail is embedded in the foot.
Foxtails located in the eye cause severe swelling, pain, and discharge in the affected eye. The eye usually will be held tightly closed. If located in the nose, foxtails usually cause violent sneezing. Mucus or blood may drain from one nostril.
Foxtails located in the ear may cause head shaking, scratching or pawing at the ear, and an abnormal posture with one ear tilted downwards. An ear infection may develop in the affected ear, or the eye on the affected side may begin to appear abnormal.
Foxtails that lodge behind the tonsils may cause a dry, honking cough or frequent, hard swallowing. Foxtails that migrate through the body can lodge in the lungs, heart, or other internal organs and may cause severe lethargy, lack of appetite, weight loss, coughing, or difficulty breathing.
Foxtails occur in grassy, outdoor areas. Animals that hunt or play in uncut grass are at highest risk. Foxtails may blend in and go unnoticed (and therefore un-removed) in animals with tawny or straw colored hair.
Pets that squat to urinate on seeded grass are at risk of a foxtail lodging in their genitalia. Pets that eat seeded grass are at risk for foxtails lodging behind the tonsils or in the mouth or throat.
Regardless of location, foxtails cause pain and irritation. They very frequently cause infection in the surrounding area. Foxtails in the skin may cause chronic draining sores. In the eye, foxtails can cause ulcers and infection. Foxtails in the ear can cause ear infections, and can penetrate the ear drum to cause hearing damage and neurological problems.
Until they are removed, foxtails often cause chronic infection in and irritation to the structure in which they are located. The long-term nature of these issues can be extremely frustrating.
Foxtails have a tendency to migrate through the body, and can move to areas such as the lungs, heart, liver, or other internal organs. When located in these sites severe illness and death can occur.
In many instances, foxtails are difficult to locate. This can lead to significant frustration. Foxtails are not visible on X-rays. However, inflammation and swelling associated with foxtails may be detectable on X-rays or CT (computerized tomography) scans.
If a foxtail can be located, physical removal is the most effective treatment. Depending on the location, sedation or anesthesia may be required to search for and remove a foxtail.
Antibiotics often are used to treat infections that foxtails have triggered. Affected areas may be cleaned and flushed with antiseptic solutions. Pain killers are appropriate in many cases.
If a foxtail is suspected but cannot be located and removed, long-term antibiotics often are coupled with aggressive flushing and cleaning of the affected area.
After a foxtail is located and removed, most symptoms resolve rapidly over 24 - 96 hours. Persistent symptoms may indicate the presence of additional foxtails or of other medical problems.
Copyright © Eric Barchas, DVM. All rights reserved.