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Foxtails are a real summer hazard for our pets

Pet column
By: Dr. Thomas Morrow Special to Inside Lincoln
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Many outdoor animals can suffer from foxtail migrations. Foxtails may get lodged around the eyes, nose, mouth ears, coat and paws. Pet owners should be aware of the following signs, which may indicate the presence of foxtails: : Eye swelling or squinting of the eye, sticky discharge : Sneezing or discharge from the nose : Repeated gagging or difficulty chewing or swallowing; trouble eating : Bad odor from the mouth, ears or nose : Head tilting, shaking or scratching at the ears : Continuous licking or biting at the paws or other areas : Abscesses ( puss-filled pockets ) : Opens sores, which can be the remains of an open abscess but may still have a foxtail inside. At the first sign of a foxtail, you should bring your pet to a veterinarian immediately to avoid further damage from migration of the foxtail. Dogs seem to suffer from these painful migrations because the foxtails become imbedded in their coats. Because of their meticulous grooming habits, cats are less likely to have foxtails as an issue. But cats occasionally run into problems and commonly get them in the eye. Corneal damage occurs fast with this seedpod stuck under the third eyelid of the animal. All animals, including horses, are at risk of serious problems if they snort a foxtail into their nasal passages. We always recommend regular grooming during the summer months. Without this, foxtails can become embedded in your animals’ coats, eventually piercing their skin and causing infections. The sharp end points and microscopic barbs of foxtails ensure travel in only one direction – further inside the animals’ body. Once inside, foxtail removal becomes a surgical procedure and must be done by a veterinarian. Dr. Thomas Morrow owns Critter Creek Veterinary Pet Hospital. If you suspect your animal may have a foxtail migration, please call our office for an appointment at 408-0201. Critter Creek Veterinary Pet Hospital is located at 395 S. Highway 65, Suite 1 in Lincoln.