foxtail_abscess“Foxtails” are the dried seed heads of western grasses. When the winter grasses turn brown in the spring and summer, the seed heads break off easily. These foxtails are pointed on one end and spiked on the other, like a fishhook.

After attaching to an animal, the foxtails tend to move in only one direction, inward. They may work their way beneath eyelids, down ear canals, inside noses, and between toes. Removal generally requires veterinary assistance.

To avoid foxtail problems, keep lawns mowed, and avoid fields where dried grass is visible. When hiking with pets, keep them on trail. Seek veterinary care if your pet is squinting, tilting his head constantly, sneezing, or is chewing and licking at his paw.