Dogs really ARE Miracles with Paws!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Who Knew?

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!!
These things were unbelievable!!! And we had this problem ALL over the south! I do not know how people deal with it on a daily basis. I was always picking them out of the girlz' fur...their feet, their ears, my hair, the couch, the bed, the carpet...they were everywhere!!

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.


Anny said...

we have this kind of problems when the grass in the garden is uncut... and these grass just sticks to Dom's body and causes an itch.

Usually the gardener will come every month.. or when the grass is a wee bit high but sometimes we go off for long holidays.. and when we come back.. the grass is all filled with these fellas. Nasty fellas.

hope none of your furries got into much trouble with them foxtails. We hate them.

Lola said...

We have a big problem here in Spring in Spain called Processional Caterpillars which can kill dogs with their bites!


Have a great week nonetheless!

XOXO Lola & Nora:)

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

We have heard some horror stories about pups who got those foxtails stuck in their mouths and nose. They maust be so painful. The worst we have to deal with here are burrs - they are a pain to get out of our furs. So Mom tries very hard to avoid any tall grases - you are right, you never know what is hidden in there.

Thanks for the very informative post. We are glad you were able to fix the awning safely.

Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

Minnie and Mack said...

Ouchie!!!!!!! Hope none of them were causing bad troubles for the 2 of you.

Drools and licks,
Minnie and Mack

Amber DaWeenie said...

We've seen those things and they're ugly to say the least. Fortunately the grass in the dogs' area is kept cut short and the dogs don't go away from home very often. But when we travel, we really have to watch the rest stops. GRRRRRR!

Karen said...

I have never heard of these things... OMG what a nuisance!!...can't imagine having to deal with them ALL THE TIME??...

browndogcbr said...

Hi Y'all,

Splitting my time between the mountains and the shore here in the southeast...and being a retriever...I now understand why my Human brushes me every time I go out and before I get to to back in the house.

Y'all come by now,
Hawk aka BrownDog

Sugar the Golden Retriever said...

Woof! Woof! Happy New Year! We are back from our longggg Holiday break. Golden Thanks for the Foxtails info. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

Visit my new (WP) blog:

GOOSE said...

Yep we got those, although I am not sure that's what we call them. For whatever reason, MOM thinks it's because of my shour fur I don't have much of a problem with them. But they are nasty.

Remington said...

I don't think I would like to have any of those in my hair!

Ron said...

Yes, I know Foxtail's VERY well because I use to live in the south (Florida) and they're everywhere. This is one of the reasons why my cats were indoor cats. Also, the flea situation in Florida is horrendous.

Very informative post, Jeanne. Thank you for sharing!

Btw, I love your new blog background!

Have a great day, dear lady!


Two French Bulldogs said...

Yikes that must have been scawy. Those Foxtails could be so so dangerous. That sure was an adventure
Benny & Lily

Donna said...

How awful they are! I've gotten them on my socks while walking through brush but not on any of my pets...yuck!

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

OMG, that is so scary! I am so glad the girls didn't get it in their little feet! Poor babies, can you imagine?

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

Foxtails are the devil. We had one dog that had to have an operation to get one out of her ear and her hearing was never the chaperones. I've taken many out of foot pads and had to have the vet take one out once, it was in so deep. I avoid foxtails at all costs!

Tessa the Maltese said...

Oh yes Chloe and LadyBug, we have those nasty things here. If I go into the place where they are when I come back in Mom goes over me with a fine tooth comb, no really!

woos, Tessa

Maggie and Mitch said...

What an informative post! These foxtails are sure no good!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

Ann said...

those do not sound like something we want to get acquainted with. Those are really dangerous.

Teddy Bear said...

How frightening! Foxtails are no fun!

Teddy Bear & Sierra

Wyatt said...

Nasty buggers...We have some of those, but not many....thank goodness!

Wyatt said...

we had this problem out west. here was our post

Pamela said...

we had a cat that got a spine in her from peeing on cactus. Here locally the dogs also get "goat heads" in their paw pads.

injoyinmylife said...

I just wanted to share that we had the very same thing happen to us in our RV - twice, once in Canada and once in Colorado. Both times it was extremely windy out. Very scary indeed.