Some of the dangers that hunting dogs face are fairly obvious, like gunshots. However, not all dangers are that easy to spot. When it comes to nature, danger can be found hiding in plain sight. By nature. Foxtails present one such danger. Let’s explore foxtail dangers for hunting dogs and see how to keep your hunting dog safe.

What is a Foxtail?

A foxtail is a weed-type grass plant. Known by several other names including timothy, grass seed awns, Downy Brome, mean seeds, and cheatgrass. Foxtail is found all over the United States, and is most common in the west. Due to the difficulty in getting rid of this plant, according to Purdue University, Foxtails are the 6th most troublesome to control weeds (source).

The name “foxtail” comes from the shape of the seed baring part of the foxtail plant. It looks very much like the bushy tail of a fox. The seeds are formed into clusters with backwards facing barbs that allow the seeds to attach to any passerby (including your hunting dog).

The foxtail dangers for hunting dogs are that once attached, these seeds will begin burrow into the hunting dog’s body and they won’t be absorbed by the hunting dog’s body. The seeds will continue to burrow until they can’t anymore. Meaning that they could end up in major organs, end up causing damage to those organs, and causing infections.  

How To Find Foxtails On Your Hunting Dog

Hunting dogs do a lot of work in areas with long grasses – including foxtails. To avoid foxtail dangers for hunting dogs, please check your hunting dog for foxtails after every outing. Carefully check the following parts of your hunting dog:

  • Paws
    If your hunting dog does not wear appropriate boots, foxtails can easily become embedded between your dog’s paw pads. This could cause limping or swelling.
  • Nose
    Frequent sneezing and discharge could be symptoms of a foxtail lodged in your dog’s nose.
  • Eyes
    Swelling, redness, discharge, and pawing the eyes could be signs that your hunting dog has a foxtail lodged in their eye.
  • Genitals
    A foxtail could be lodged in your hunting dog’s genitals if they are licking that area.  
  • Ears
    If your hunting dog is not wearing dog earplugs, a foxtail could become lodged in your hunting dog’s ear canals. They could be down further than you can see. Look for scratching at the ear, tilting their head to one side, or shaking their head.

Should you find a foxtail lodged anywhere on your hunting dog, please consult your veterinarian for removal immediately. The sooner that that foxtail can be removed, the better. If the foxtail is allowed to stay, one of the foxtail dangers for hunting dogs is that the seeds could burrow into the hunting dog’s brain, spinal column, lungs, or other major organs.

Preventing Foxtail Dangers For Hunting Dogs

Proper hunting gear can help prevent foxtail dangers for hunting dogs. One such piece of equipment is in-ear hearing protection for dogs. When properly inserted, our dog earplugs expand to fill the dog’s entire L-shaped ear canal. No room for foxtails!

Our CrittEar Calm dog earplugs provide a Noise Reduction Rating of 31 dB as well. Coming soon (as early as the beginning of 2023), CrittEar Hunt will be an even more natural fit for hunting dogs, helping them to hear quiet sounds better while still protecting their hearing from loud noises, like gunshots. This hunting season, keep your dog’s ears protected from loud sounds and foxtails!

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