It’s That Foxtail Time of the Year

Your Dog’s Health

It’s that time of the year again. The rains have fallen and early Spring seems just around the corner in sunny California. And with the rains comes incredibly beautiful green rolling hills. Everyone is taking their dogs out for walks in the hills, enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Lurking in the tranquil greenery lies the ever sneaky foxtail. It hides as part of the beautiful grass most people’s dogs like to snack on. But, here is the real danger, and please look closely into this picture above and you will see the pretty spikes of the beginnings of what looks like wheat stocks. Each one of these spikes has dangerous barbs that lie in the opposite direction ensuring its ability to grab onto a host so it can be carried further to a new location, so it can be dropped to re-seed itself.

The real problem here are our furry mammalian friends who can sniff them in through their nose and deep into their sinuses. Or lodge them deeply into the ears. Or eat some and swallow them, just to get caught in the digestive tracts. Let alone, step on them and send them up through their skin and tissue burrowing deeply into their foot or leg.

The next couple of months will bring the terrible woes of these ever catching little terrors into veterinarians offices across the country.

I am always careful with our dogs and yet, even we were caught off guard a few years ago. We absolutely have no idea what happened and how she got it, but she did. Our sweet Malka somehow got one lodged in behind her right eye, and these very dangerous jagged barbs inched their way up literally behind her eye, causing it to bulge out so far we ended up at the vet’s office. With enough sleuthing, our vet found the one tiny little piece of barb deep in her skull behind her eye. For some pets these barbs can creep as far up to the brain, or down into the lungs. Again, ask any vet.

Our amazing vet caught it and lined us up with the best ophthalmologist and neurosurgeon to go in surgically and remove it. They were concerned it was so bad she might lose her eye. But, as many of you know, our sweet Malka seems to always come through, like Energizer Bunny she is. But, I don’t take one moment for granted and I know how fortunate we were that our vet and the specialist team took such good care to remove it and send her back home all in one good, healthy piece.

It’s not the case for other foxtail fiascos. So, please know it tis the foxtail season. When you are walking your four-legged beloved, please keep them close to you. Watch as they sniff the side of the trail. And please even check your own back yard because these little bugaboos can grow anywhere. Share the knowledge with other dog lovers and hopefully they will listen and save their own pets from such a sticky subject.

Here’s to an easier season for our local Veterinarians, at least for this subject.

~Elinor Silverstein

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