Foxtails Abound!

Spring is here, the weather’s warming, and it seems everyone’s going hiking with their dogs! That’s all good news, but did you know there are some very dangerous plants and weeds out there that can kill your dog? I don’t want to alarm you, but you need to know the dangers of foxtails, as they’re growing rapidly this time of year in the Encinitas area.

I’ve personally seen foxtails in almost every neighborhood we walk dogs in, especially on trails and parks, such as the popular Power Lines Park in Village Park area of Encinitas. I won’t even take my dog there anymore, at least until the foxtails die after the summer. It’s just too dangerous.

Foxtails’ danger to dogs

Foxtails are dangerous to dogs because their barbed seeds can easily get lodged in a dog’s fur, ears, nose, mouth, or paws if he brushes up against the plant, or sniffs it. If not removed promptly, they can cause serious infections and they may travel around the body and into the brain, and even lead to death in extreme cases. It’s important to regularly check your dog for foxtails, especially after outdoor activities in areas where they may be present, like the side of the road, parks or trails.

What do foxtails look like?

Foxtails are grasses with bushy, spike-like seed clusters that resemble the tail of a fox. The clusters can range in color from light green to tan and can be up to several inches long. They start growing in early spring in the San Diego area. When they first sprout up, they are a green color, but as the hot summer sun dries them, they turn brown and get brittle, which is when they are most dangerous.


Where are foxtails found?

Foxtails are found in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are often found in open fields, along roadsides, and in other areas with dry, arid climates. They are all over San Diego County, so please be mindful while walking your dog.

Foxtails (1)

Other dangerous plants similar to foxtails found in San Diego

There are several other dangerous plants found in San Diego that are similar to foxtails, such as Mexican feather grass, cheatgrass, burclover, and puncturevine. It is important to be aware of these plants and take precautions to avoid them, especially if you have pets that may come into contact with them.

What should I do if my dog has a foxtail embedded?

If your dog has a foxtail embedded, it is best to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Foxtails can cause serious infections and complications if left untreated. Avoid trying to remove the foxtail yourself as it can be difficult to completely remove and may cause further injury to your dog.

How does a veterinarian remove foxtails?

A veterinarian may remove foxtails by using forceps or tweezers to carefully extract them from the affected area. In some cases, surgery may be necessary if the foxtail has penetrated deep into the tissue. It’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible if you suspect your pet has a foxtail lodged in their body to prevent infection and further complications.

Emergency veterinarians in Encinitas vicinity

There are a few emergency veterinarians in Encinitas, California area. Some options include:

  • Veterinary Emergency Group, El Camino Real & Mountain Vista, Encinitas (760-330-2327)
  • Veterinary Specialty Hospital, San Marcos (760-466-0600)
  • Animal Urgent Care of Escondido (760-738-9600)
  • VCA CA Veterinary Specialty Hospital, Carlsbad (760-431-2273)

Please note that it is always best to call ahead to ensure availability and to receive any necessary instructions before bringing your pet to an emergency veterinarian.
By all means, get out and about and enjoy the beauty of North County San Diego with your dog! Just be aware of your surroundings at all times, and keep your line of sight at the same level of where your dog’s nose is. If you see weeds and plants that look dangerous, steer clear! If you’re interested in booking a few hours or a long visit with one of our dog walkers, we are here for you and we’d love to take your dog out for a safe trail walk. Just click here to schedule services.



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