Foxtails, a common name for several species of grasses with barbed seed heads, pose a hidden but significant danger to our furry friends. For owners of French Brittany dogs, known for their love of outdoor exploration, understanding the risks and preventative measures associated with foxtails is essential.
The Hidden Danger of Foxtails
Foxtails can cause severe injuries in dogs. Their barbed seeds are designed to burrow into the ground, but they can also become lodged in a dog’s skin, ears, eyes, nose, or mouth. Once embedded, they continually move forward, potentially reaching internal organs or the brain and causing pain, infection, or even death12.
Risks Specific to French Brittany Dogs
French Brittanys are energetic, adventurous dogs that love to explore fields and meadows, places where foxtails commonly grow. Their dense coat provides excellent protection against the elements but can easily trap foxtail seeds. Moreover, their high energy levels and curiosity can increase the likelihood of encountering foxtails.
Prevention is the best defense against foxtails. Regularly inspect your dog after walks, paying special attention to their paws, ears, and fur3. Grooming your French Brittany regularly can help remove any hidden foxtails and reduce the risk of them burrowing into the skin.
Avoid walking your dog in areas where foxtails grow, especially during their seeding period (usually late spring to early summer). If you have foxtails in your yard, consider removing them to create a safer environment for your pet. Mow them when they are soft and green to prevent the seed from hardening and becoming dangerous.
As I wrote in the article about Burrs, you can spray your dog down with “Showsheen” or Natures miracle detangler before going out and the foxtails are less likely to stick and when they do they slide out easily. Showsheen also makes your dog smell really good. I love this product.
Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms of a foxtail-related injury can vary depending on where the seed has lodged. These may include extreme sneezing, head-shaking, coughing, excessive licking, pain, swelling, redness, or discharge45. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Treatment typically involves locating and removing the foxtail, often under sedation or anesthesia. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary6.
Foxtails pose a significant risk to French Brittany dogs. As responsible pet owners, we must educate ourselves about these dangers and take appropriate preventative measures. Regular grooming and inspections, combined with immediate treatment at the first sign of trouble, can help ensure our beloved French Brittanys remain safe and healthy while enjoying the great outdoors.