Veterinarians Warn of Pet Killer Lurking in Backyard, Like Taking ‘Bullet to Your Dog’

Dogs need exercise, just like us humans. For many owners, taking their dogs out to open areas for a game of fetch is one of their favorite ways to spend time with their furry pets.

When we take our dogs out, we should already have our minds on basic safety risks. Not leaving your dog in a hot car, you need to be weary to keep them away from areas that may have snakes and other aggressive animals, and you have to keep an eye out for poisonous plants.

However dogs love to explore, sometimes their exploration gets them into trouble. With a rise in injuries and infections, vet’s are warning dog owners to be careful about a specific type of grass typically found in the west of the United States.

Foxtail grass is a kind of weed that looks the same to the harmless, though annoying, common weed that looks like wheat. Its the seed awns that make Foxtail dangerous.

Foxtail’s seed awns are sharp small needles that help its seed penetrate the ground. Designed to go one direction, once they begin to burrow, they do not fall out.

The awns are so strong that they can burrow through soft tissue. This is dangerous for dogs who get into everything, but cannot effectively communicate what they have been doing or that they are uncomfortable.

Left unnoticed, these awns continue to burrow deeper into the soft tissue causing abscesses, infections, and sometimes and even death. On account of them not being able to talk, vets are asking owners to be careful about where your dogs play and learn the symptoms that indicate your pooch’s exposure to Foxtail.

Foxtail season is usually between May and December. It is harder to spot Foxtail awns on dogs with longer fur, it is advisable to keep your dog trimmed particularly during these months.

Foxtail is known to be hidden in overgrown grass fields, but can also turn up in your garden. Check your garden frequently for the weed, and avoid playing in under-maintained areas.

When playing in wild areas, make it a habit to thoroughly check your dog. These awns can stick and begin to burrow anywhere, espically in the paws, nose, ears, and eyes.

Particularly, if your dog is constantly licking or pawing at an area, that’s a sign of irritation, and should be carefully checked for Foxtail. Awns between the toes may cause a limp. Excessive scratching and head twitches may indicate an awn in the ear.

With eyes, on top of pawing, there may be redness, swelling, and discharge. Frequent sneezing and excessive discharge may be signs of a Foxtail awn in the nose.

While these soft tissues are the easiest penetration points for Foxtail awns, the tenacious awns can puncture the skin anywhere, wreaking havoc on internal organs. Even an awn caught in the gums could cause serious complications.

If, upon inspection, you find an awn that can be easily accessed, it is recommended that you carefully remove the awn with tweezers. If the awn is out of reach, or pervasive symptoms indicate Foxtail impalement, do take your pet to the vet right away.

Not only is your pet made very uncomfortable by a burrowing awn, the pesky plant seeds can reach the brain, causing catastrophic results. Awns can also puncture lungs and other internal linings.

Just as we have to do with kids, it is imperative that we check the spaces our canine buddies have access to. Their inquisitive nature far exceeds their sense of internal infection and illness. Even if you don’t let your pooch run wild in the great outdoors, make sure you don’t have this deadly plant burrowing in your garden.

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