Foxtails: What to look for and how to prevent them.

Foxtails are prevalent in the Bay Area; they’re everywhere. It is hard to completely avoid them but we at Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services can give you a few pointers to minimize foxtails that can harm your pet and what to look for.

Foxtails can be embedded everywhere. They’re shaped like an arrow so the only way they travel after they’re embedded is forward. Foxtails can be stuck and embedded into the body anywhere but the most common places are in between the toes, in the nose, in the throat, in the eyes, in the genital region, and in the ears.

What to look for:

In between the toes- In between the toes are by far the most common spot. When this occurs, there is often an inflamed bubble that forms with a small tract where the foxtail entered. There are times where it becomes infected and you can see pus coming from the site. Dogs that have this show signs of licking that same area, so it will become sticky, red and inflamed.

In the nose- Dogs love to explore the world with their noses. These pesky foxtails become brittle and can easily fall off if your dog ends up sniffing too vigorously. This happens more commonly to big breed canines as their nares are wider than smaller breeds. Dogs that get foxtails up their noses often start sneezing in continuous episodes and pawing at the nose at times, especially when stimulated. These sneezing episodes can also be combined with blood from the nose from the irritation of the foreign plant material. Foxtails can also travel into the lungs, which can lead to respiratory distress and/or pneumonia.

In the throat- if your dog likes to eat grass, it is very likely that a foxtail can end up lodged in their throat. This leaves them hacking and sometimes spitting up so as to try to get the thing irritating their throat out. Ingestion of a lot of plant material can lead to an obstruction which can be  much more serious matter that may call for surgery or an endoscopic procedure.

In the genital region- the orifices of both genders are prone to foxtail embedment as well. Inflammation and discolored discharge warrant a visit to the vet.

In the ears- When foxtails end up in the ears, your dog will end up shaking their head and often pawing at their head.

If any of these signs persist please contact your veterinarian. It is likely that your pet will not allow us to fish out the foxtail without any sedation or pain medication. Therefore, a surgical procedure with twilight sedation and in some worse cases full general anesthesia is necessary. When going to your veterinarian, please be sure to fast your pet in preparation for the procedure. Sometimes advanced imaging like radiographs and computerized tomography (CT Scan) is necessary.

What can I do to prevent this?

  • Do a thorough foxtail search after coming back from the outdoors. Check in between the toes and where the paw  pads are.
  • Remove foxtails from the yard.
  • Keep your pets away from dry grassy areas.
  • Don’t let them eat foreign plant material.
  • Trim hair for long haired pets and brush them out thoroughly.

A foxtail embedment that is left untreated can cause major medical issues for your pet. Please check in with your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog may have a foxtail. If there are any questions about foxtails or if you think your pet may have a foxtail, contact us at Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services 415. 566.0540. AIMSS is open around the clock to help your pet.


Nose work

Rainy Day Games

According to the Mercury News, in 2018 March will have the longest stretch of wet weather on record in history. Your pet may end up stir crazy with cabin fever due to more time in the house. Try some nose work or scent training which is great for preventing boredom by stimulating the mind. This can even be used for pets with mobility limitations and convalescing pets. View our blog on Therapeutic Confinement

You can create a fun game out of anything. Recycled amazon prime boxes (from all of that online shopping you’ve been doing) used toilet paper rolls, or even puzzles purchased from a store.

Here’s a level 1 nose work game that you can create out of recycled coffee cups.


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International Women’s Day

Today we’re honoring one of our own, Dr. Jill Williamson, for International Women’s Day. Not only is she the Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services found but she is ka board-certified emergency and critical care specialist. 

After graduating from veterinary school in Iowa, Dr. Williamson headed to the west coast and has been in California ever since. She practiced in emergency and specialty hospitals in Northern California prior to starting her ACVECC residency in 2002. Dr. Williamson completed her residency in Emergency and Critical Care at the Pet Emergency and Specialty Center of East County in La Mesa, California.

Dr. Williamson puts her advanced skills in critical care to work when a pet’s condition becomes life threatening. After making an initial assessment, she stabilizes the patient, and then provides continuous support and monitoring based on patient needs. Life-saving therapy may require IV fluids, blood or plasma transfusions, mechanical ventilation, oxygen support, surgery, nutritional delivery, and pain control. Dr. Williamson delivers cutting-edge expertise with compassion and love.

“Critical care is the core of medicine; it requires intimate knowledge of physiology. Although deeply challenging on intellectual and emotional levels, critical care can be amazingly rewarding.”

Dr. Williamson spends her free time riding both road and mountain bikes, exploring the culinary scene of Northern California, and hiking.

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Lily Toxicity in Felines

Lilies are beautiful, come with most flower arrangements, and are in many homes especially during the Spring and around Easter time. Unfortunately, most cat owners are unaware of the dangers a lily possesses for cats.

All members of the scientific species Lilium, have toxic principles that cause acute kidney injury and kidney failure in cats. It’s not just the petals, but the water in the vase, the pollen, the leaves, the stem and essentially every part of the lily.


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