Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Foxtails are the Devil

Foxtails really are the devil. Almost everyone knows this. And I, who have made a career out of working with animals for over a decade, should have known this too. But instead I had to learn it the hard way. Although, I must say, it wasn't as hard for me as it was for my dog Camila.

I had heard of foxtails prior to living with an adventurous mutt. I vaguely knew that they were some sort of weed with a scratchy detachable seedcase.  What I didn't know is how much damage they could do to a dog foolish enough to sniff one up her nose.

As it turns out, avoiding foxtails should be rule one for anyone who likes to hike with their dog in the Los Angeles area. Foxtails are EVERYWHERE when you start to notice them. And they don't just bloom and then disappear. Instead they dry out and become even more likely to freely float up the giant snout of any passing canine. 

Camila was lucky as it turns out. She was energetically sniffing around some bushes when she started violently sneezing. Here eyes squinted and teared, and she pawed at her nose. We took her to the vet right away, but by then she had stopped sneezing. We were sent home with some antihistamines and the hope that she had sneezed out whatever had been irritating her.

Several days later she still didn't seem quite right. So back she went to the vet, and this time she got the full work up: sedation and a scope up the nose. As it turns out, she had TWO giant foxtails embedded in her nasal passages. Why was this lucky, especially considering the fact that it cost more than a trip to San Francisco? Because it could have been so much worse. We knew that something was wrong, and that the culprit was something she had sniffed up her nose. We have learned since then that foxtails can and do get into ear canals, noses, mouths, and even eyes. They can work their way through coats, skin, and from there collapse lungs. A tech at the vet told me they can even enter the bloodstream and do terrible damage. 

So there you have it. Foxtails are horrible, and I highly recommend staying far away from them if you are a dog. And if you are a human, take the time to check your canine companion for wayward seed cases after any summertime hikes. Remember, the devil is sneaky and filled with malice. 


  1. Poor doggy! I have birdies but we always worry about them. I couldn't imagine having to have them sedated because of a weed! Hope she's feeling better.

  2. We've got "Goat Heads" here in CO which are basically like little spiky rocks... they're horrible! Get in between the dogs' toes and cause problems all the time.

  3. Poor Camilla! Glad she's okay once again. Nothing like that here that I know about - hope nothing is in hiding.

  4. Oh, poor baby! I'm glad it wasn't any worse!

  5. Thanks everyone!

    DK, I've never heard of Goat Heads! Ugg, why do the plants want to mess with the pups? It's supposed to be the other way around!

  6. Hopefully that will teach her not to stick her nose where it doesn't belong!


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