Red Deer veterinarian Patrick Higgins, holds foxtail (left) and wild grass (right). Both are harmful for dogs when they get lodged in their paws or tonsils. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Foxtails can get stuck in dogs’ paws, tonsils

Avoid areas where there are foxtails

Incidents involving a form of wild grass don’t let dogs put their best paws forward.

A Red Deer registered veterinary technician experienced that this summer with her four-year old springer-spaniel, Rooster.

A pointy-foxtail had lodged itself in between one of Rooster’s toes and he was put on antibiotics, said Amiee Widmer.

“I started to do an epsom salts bath, and as I was massaging the foot, out pops a little piece of foxtail, and it was the culprit the whole time,” Widmer said.

The pet parent knew something was bothering the pooch, but wasn’t sure if there was still something in there, hence the epson salts soak to work any infection out.

“It was at least five days of him working on the paw before it started to fester and work its way out,” she said.

“And once it was out, it cleared up just great. As soon as you remove them, they seem to do just fine.”

In the past, the veterinary technician, while working in northern Alberta, has seen some foxtail-related cases.

“They can get lodged in the tonsils, because foxtails pull apart and you see a chronic cough, and pet owners are left wondering why their dog won’t stop coughing.”

Red Deer veterinary Patrick Higgins said he has seen the usual number of foxtail-related cases this summer.

Dogs can get the tiny hairs of foxtails or the pointy pieces of the wild grass stuck in their paws or tonsils – if they are grass eaters.

In rare cases, the seeds can get stuck in their nostrils or ears – especially if they are working dogs in the fields.

“They can get it in their paws, and they’re pointy little things, and then it festers there. And sometimes, they are easy to find, and sometimes, it’s a needle in a haystack,” the Deer Park Pet Hospital doctor said.

“Unfortunately, the body can’t break it down. If you don’t get it out, it’s not the case that the body will eventually resolve it,” he said.

In some cases, dogs have multiple pieces of “tiny foxtail pointy hairs” lodged in their skin.

Prevention is tough, said Higgins, who advises pet owners to avoid areas where there are foxtails, especially if their four-legged friends are grass eaters.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

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Four-year-old springer-spaniel Rooster had foxtail stuck in his paw this summer. His owner, registered veterinary technician Amiee Widmer, gave him an epsom salt soak and found the piece that was lodged between his toes. Contributed photo

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