Last night I spent a good 20 minutes going through Beowolf’s feet and fur plucking out FOXTAILS! The previous years have never been this bad with foxtails and Beowolf has always been lucky about not collecting foxtails but I find myself picking them up around the house as he drops them.
Given my experience at the clinic, I know just how nasty a foxtail can get. Abscesses and infections lead to expensive vet visits and weeks of antibiotics. Well, the good thing about foxtails is they are predictable and work in the same way, their anatomy is designed to “dig” with reverse burs that hold it in place which is why they don’t fall out on their own sometimes.
They can burrow into the skin and work their tract anywhere in the body, leaving room for infections to fester and grow. Sometimes they can work their way out, but it’s not often we see that. Usually once a foxtail burrows and hides it takes a trained hand to remove it, so address it early on before it becomes a problem.
Luckily they are easy to remove!
**If a foxtail has gotten in your dog’s Eye(s), Nose and/or Ear(s) do NOT try to remove them yourself unless you are a trained professional. Please to prevent further injuries, take your pet to the vet**
Signs your pet may have a Foxtail in it’s:
- Inflammation/ redness
- You saw it go in
- Tilting head to the side
- Shaking head a lot
- Possible pain while touching the ear
- Vocalization (whining, crying, yelping, biting)
- Scratching ears a lot
- Inflammation/ redness in ear(s)
- Sneezing a lot
- Reverse sneezing
- Bleeding from nose
- Pawing/ scratching/ rubbing nose
Removal of Foxtails from these areas requires a certain tool, a method of restraint safe for everyone or sedation, and training in the removal of foxtails by a professional. I have seen people injure their pet trying to do this at home and needed further medical assistance than they would have. Please don’t be that person. Maybe someday I will do a tutorial on how to perform those tasks at home, if I get 100 likes on this post I will do a video.
Here is what you can do at home now!
Here is what you will need:
- Tweezers/ hemostats/ forceps
- Grooming clippers (long hair dogs/ foxtail infestations)
- Mild soap and water (Dawn is always a safe bet, not too concentrated)
- Neosporin (with Lidocaine or Pain reliever)
Hopefully, your dog will be tired during a foxtail check since he likely just came from running around outside.
First what you want to do is a thorough once over, do this in the light to make sure you catch every one of them, as just one can cause damage. Light dogs should be extra thorough, foxtails range in hues of gold and can blend in with fur quite easily! Now you can use your fingers for these but for stubborn ones you can use tweezers or hemostats. Be careful to avoid plucking any hair, if this is painful or uncomfortable for your dog this can keep them from trusting you with their paws in the first place. If you think you will need to take a chunk of hair with a foxtail, just shave between the paw pads. It’s much less uncomfortable than plucking healthy fur from between their toes!
Hot places for foxtails to live:
- Between the toes, including underneath the paw pad
- In the groin area or belly (longhair or double coated dogs)
- Tail fur
- Neck/ collar area
Once you’re sure you checked everywhere then it’s time to clean up. If there were spots where foxtails pierced the skin then gently clean the area with soap and water and apply a little bit of Neosporin. This should prevent any mild infection and if necessary, you can put a cone on your dog to prevent licking which can cause problems in itself.
Ways to keep foxtails from clinging:
- Shave paws, even if it’s just the paw pads underneath (longhaired dogs have long fur here)
- Take your pet to the groomer for a Summer cut
- Brush your dog (I would never shave Beowolf, so I brush him and keep up with baths to prevent the fur from turning into Velcro)
- Do a good once over after your dog comes in from outside
I hope this was helpful and will update it as more tips and tricks come!
I found this small inexpensive instrument kit that has everything you would need for at home minor treatments.
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