A foxtail in a dog's paw is a serious problem and must be removed as soon as possible. Foxtail is a type of barley grass that grows in the western states of the U.S. The sharp, barbed seed spikes fall off the mature grass and pierce the dog's skin. Enzymes in the seed cause an infection and the seeds burrow deeper into the dog's flesh along the channels of pus. Foxtails can be found in any part of a dog and have been known to burrow into the brain and spinal cord.
Signs that a dog may have a foxtail in his paw include excessive licking and biting. Upon examination, the dog may not allow you to touch the paw because it is so painful. You will most likely see a lump or bump between the toes or some place on the dog's paw. Signs of foxtails in other areas of the body may be coughing, licking or head-shaking.
Because they are barbed and they burrow deeper and deeper into the dog's flesh, foxtails have to be surgically removed. if you suspect that our dog has a foxtail in his paw do not wait. Take him to your veterinarian as soon as you can. If you leave it, your dog will suffer a lot of pain and the foot will become more severely infected.
Keep all the grass and weeds in your yard mowed or cut down and do not allow it to seed. Learn to recognise foxtail grass and keep your dog away from it. If you take your dog for a walk in areas where there is long grass do not allow him to romp in the grass or chew it.
Inspect your dog thoroughly from head to tail after he has been in an area where there may be foxtails. Brush or comb your dog and feel for any lumps or bumps. Pay particular attention to his ears, nostrils, between his toes, armpits, groin and his genital and anal areas. If you see a grass seed, pull it out straight away and take care not to break it off.