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If you have dogs, keep the foxtail out of your lawn!
Foxtail is a common annual grass usually considered a weed.
It grows one to three feet tall, with branching and some
spreading at ground level. Leaf blades are 4 to 15 inches
long. Flower heads are dense spikes with yellow to reddish,
green or purplish bristles. As foxtail matures, seeds are
formed at the top of the stalk. The bushy seeds are what
gives the plant the name of "foxtail".
When mature, the seeds detach easily from the plant. This
is natures way of making sure that the plant reproduces.
The seeds easily cling to clothing, fur, and hair. The
seeds always move forward thus penetrating the skin.
The seeds found in the ears, eyes and nose are very serious
and can become life threatening. But no body part is
immune. The seeds have been found in the urethra, vagina,
anal glands, brain, and spinal cord. In one case a
veterinarian found the seed in the lung but the original
site of entry was the paw. The seeds also gain entry
through open wounds.
Foxtail seeds are very tiny so veterinarians usually go by
If in the nasal cavity, the dog sneezes repeatedly and
violently often hitting the nose on the floor. If a bloody
discharge is noticed assume it's a foxtail seed.
If in the eye, the dog paws at the eye and the eye waters.
If an eye is glued shut it is most likely a foxtail seed.
If the seed is in the ear the dog shakes its head violently
from side to side. Sometimes the dog paws a the eyes or
ear, shaking the head and squints.
In the mouth foxtail seeds can cause gagging or difficulty
swallowing. If the seed gets caught between the teeth, in
the gums, back of throat, or tongue problems can result.
If the seed lodges in the paw or under the coat a lump will
form that is painful to the touch. Other symptoms include
rubbing the head on the ground and going round in circles,
licking or biting at the rectum or other body parts, or
yelping or shining for no obvious reason.
Foxtail seeds can cause fatalities when they reach internal
In any case, do not attempt to treat the animal yourself.
Get professional help.
Get rid of all foxtail in your lawn or yard. If foxtail
grows in your yard mow the grass often, especially in late
spring when the plant grows most rapidly. This prevents the
plant from ever setting seed.
Avoid parks, or other recreational areas where you know
Always brush and inspect your dogs coat after being in
grassy areas. Dogs with long hair are even more likely to
attract the seeds than shorthaired breeds.
Examine your dogs eyes and ears.
For more information on how to control foxtail:
About the Author
Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the
Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.
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