Dangerous Foxtails

Dangerous Foxtails

What’s dangerous about foxtails you might ask? Well, if it’s a real fox’s tail, not much, however, this post is all about the species of spear grass known as “foxtail grass”, which IS highly dangerous to your beloved fur friends.

For starters, you may not be aware that there are approximately 60 species of spear grass, commonly known under many different names, including, foxtail grass, porcupine grass, needle grass, silver spike grass, to name a few, and that “spear grass” is the generic term used for any wild grass that has barbed seeds.

There is much danger hidden in that beautiful flowing grass (it looks similar to wheat) that during the early growing season turns from green to a lovely shade of green tinged with purple that looks so innocuous as it gently blows in the breeze. However, when the grass begins to dry out and turn a dried grass color, the dangerous foxtail barley grass rears its ugly head.

Once it dries out, the remaining spears have a Velcro-like texture that easily attach themselves to anything that brushes past, including your best fur friends. Each small piece that attaches itself to a passing dog also has a needle sharp end that can easily pierce your dog’s skin and work it’s way inside your dog’s body.

No matter what name you give this quietly insidious grass, there is no denying that any type of spear grass and your pet are a dangerously unhealthy and treacherous combination that can cause your pet much pain and distress.

Spear grass is most dangerous for dogs once it has become dried out and more easily falls from the stalks and is most often a problem from late spring through to the fall.

Make sure that you keep a vigilant eye during the spear grass season and if you allow your dog to romp through grassy areas, always thoroughly check between the toes, underbelly, eyes, ears, nose, etc., because, as an example, if just one of these Velcro-like seeds gets into an ear canal, your dog will be doing a lot of head shaking and ear scratching and may even whine or cry because he or she is experiencing extreme pain. Once a spear grass has lodged itself in an ear canal or up a dog’s nose, removal will require an expensive trip to your local vet’s office.

The seeds found in the ears, eyes and nose can cause very serious problems, even to the point of becoming life threatening if not discovered and properly treated. Because these seeds literally stick to anything, and are designed to move forward through the hair, to pierce the skin, 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 a seed in the lung, even though the original site of entry was through the paw. Spear grass can also gain easy entry through open wounds.

Spring and summertime weather is a wonderful time for dogs and their guardians to be even more active and spending time outside enjoying the sights and sounds and you can make sure that all this fun activity remains a happy memory when you carefully inspect for spear grass, especially the foxtail variety, after each outing.

“There are NO bad dogs ~ only misunderstood ones.”

~ Asia Moore, Author & Dog Whisperer
© 2016 K-9SuperHeroesDogWhispering.com

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