Foxtails Are a Danger to Your Pet

Foxtails are grass-like weeds which resemble the tails of foxes and are usually found only in states west of the Mississippi. These annual grasses are often found in weedy areas along paths and roads. It grows 1 to 3 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. From January until about March or early April, they are soft and green. In late spring, however, the seed heads begin to dry and the danger begins, lasting throughout the summer until fall rains. As foxtail matures, seeds are formed at the top of the stalk.  Superficially they are often compared to a wheat grass appearance.

When mature, the seeds detach easily from the plant. The seeds easily cling to clothing, fur and hair. The seeds always move forward thus penetrating the skin. These structures have sharp points at one end, and microscopic barbs, so that they easily move in the direction of the point, but not the other way. They “work in”, but they don’t “work out”.

The most common locations for foxtail entrapment include the webbing between the toes, the ear canal, and the nose. Their presence causes extreme discomfort. They affect pets, livestock, and wild animals. Cats that spend time outside are also at risk (though usually less so, due to feline grooming habits).

Signs of foxtail problems include a red, moist seeping wound between the toes, a head tilt or ear irritation, excessive sneezing often with blood, or acute eye squinting and redness. A foxtail seed can cause an inflamed, painful, infected lump anywhere on an animal’s body.

If the seed is in the ear, the animal shakes its head violently from side to side. Sometimes the dog paws the eyes or ear, shaking the head and squinting.

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. Depending on the location of the seed or seeds, other symptoms are compulsive licking and biting at a paw or around the groin or rectal area or whining and crying with no obvious or acute injury.

Depending on where a foxtail seed has traveled to inside an animal, it can even be life threatening and will require prompt surgical removal. Get the dog to a veterinarian immediately.

If you live in an area where foxtails grow, remove weeds from your yard. Keep your dog away from grassy weeds when walking, hiking or hunting. Discourage your dogs from chewing on grasses.

Examine your pet daily. Carefully brush its hair, while feeling for any raised areas on its skin. Check inside and under its ears; check between the toes, under the armpits and in the groin area. Keep long haired and thick coated breeds especially well-groomed. If you see a foxtail seed sticking in the dog’s skin, carefully pull it straight out, making sure not to break it off in the process. If you think a seed might already embedded in the skin, in a paw, in an eye or an ear, or if a pet that has been eating grass seems to have a throat problem, get the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible! Waiting can only make it harder to find, allow it to migrate and become more dangerous, and make treatment more difficult.

Valerie 1Featured Dog: Valerie 1-2 years old female heeler/Labrador blend

Anything for Love! With her affectionate nature and wiggling hips, it’s easy to see that Valerie adores people and wants to spend time with them. This eager-to-please dog will do tricks for petting and appreciates being rewarded with treats. A strong girl, she needs to learn manners. But she wants to please people so much that she should be a quick study. She already knows sit and down. We think she may be housetrained. She was found as a stray, Valerie is ready to give her heart and soul to whomever adopts her. If you’re looking for a devoted dog, please consider giving her the chance to be your best friend forever.

No other dogs available at time of article submission.


truffles Truffles _6937 Truffles11-6-14 003

DSCN2163Featured Cat: Truffles Domestic short hair female 2 years old

Hello there! My name is Truffles. Did I hear you say that you want a cute, fun, lovable, adorable, cuddly, energetic, and awesome cat?? Well, that’s me! Here I am!! Come and adopt me please! Seriously, I am a pretty great little lady, if I do say so myself! I just love life – every day is another day in which I can play, explore, and share my joy with those around me! I come when called. I have a pretty “swirly” colors to my coat and am quite Striking even if I do say so myself. Very talkative cat.

No other cats available at time of submission of article

All animals will be spayed or neutered prior to leaving shelter and receive 1 year rabies vaccination and city license. Ages are approximated.

The City of Mesquite Animal Shelter located at 795 Hardy Way is open for adoptions from 11am until 1 pm, Monday through Saturday, Sunday 1pm -3pm. Please call 702-346-7415 during these hours to speak to the front desk. Animal Control may be reached by phone or voicemail at 702-346-5268

The animals submitted to the media may have changes so please visit our Petfinder website for a current listing and more detailed information on the animals.

Please also check our Facebook pages for lost and found animals along with pet information.  and