Trails and Foxtails
Our very own Chewbacca tells all
There are many things that your pet can face when going out on hikes or even on their day to day walks. From hot pavement to pesky burrs in their fur, there are always things to lookout for. In Washington, one big pest that can pose a threat to dogs are Foxtails, also referred to as “grass seed awns”.
Foxtails typically grow in spots where grass is not well-maintained. This could include (but is not limited to) hiking trails, large open fields, and parks with overgrown grass. The grass seed awn will grow on the top of the overgrown grass. They have barbed tips that, as the name suggests, resemble a fox tail. The seed is designed to burrow, always moving forward and never backwards. This applies to any surface that the seed may land on, including dogs.
If left unnoticed and untreated, foxtails can cause serious pain and discomforts, as well as infections to your pet. Foxtails can be found on any part of your pets body. The most common points of entry include the nose, eyes, paws and ears. Symptoms vary depending on where the foxtail burrows, but the most common symptoms overall are acting lethargic, swelling or excessive licking, chewing, and lack of appetite.
Recently one of our very own, Chewbacca, had a run in with a foxtail. We talked to his mom to share their experience to help other avoid a similar situation. Chewbacca did not show any signs of decreased energy level or pain. His parents found a golfball-sized knot near his shoulder blade. They knew something was wrong and took him to the vet where they found out that a foxtail had burrowed into his skin.
To remove the foxtail Chewbacca had to undergo a two hour surgery under anesthesia. He was then put on pain killers and antibiotics for 10 days. His mom said, “The vet also recommended a cone, but I could not see him with it. It really made him suffer, so I took days off (work) and looked at him constantly so he would not scratch (his wound)”.
Not to mention, Chewbacca had to take one week off of group walks and two weeks off of Paw Hikes to make sure the other dogs would not bother his wound as it healed. (Which we’re sure he missed terribly) But he was still getting his exercise everyday.
Chewbacca’s mom would recommend not letting dogs roll in tall grass as well as checking the other dogs after walks to ensure that foxtails aren’t being transferred from one dog to the other. Another good practice would be double checking to make sure no foxtails were left in the vans from previous hikes and walks.
Our team is doing our best to ensure the health and safety of all of our friends each and every day. If you think that your pet has encountered a foxtail, seek medical attention immediately.
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Written by: Hannah Haydock