Foxtail Season is Here!

Foxtail plants can be risky for your pet.  The barbed seed heads of the foxtail plant can work their way into any part of your dog or cat, from the nose to between the toes and inside the ears, eyes and mouth.  They can even dig themselves directly into a patch of skin.  The foxtail plant is a grass-like weed and the danger of foxtails goes beyond simple irritation.  This tough weed doesn’t break down inside the body.  An embedded foxtail can lead to a serious infection for your pet as foxtails travel.  Moving relentlessly forward, never back, they can migrate.  Embedded foxtails can cause discharge, abscesses, swelling and pain. 

Did you know these weeds are foxtails?

If your pet is displaying any of the following symptoms, see your veterinarian as soon as possible:

Paws:  Foxtails love your pet’s paws and can easily become embedded between tender toes.  Check for fox tails if you notice swelling, limping or if your pet is constantly licking the area.

Ears: If your pet is shaking his head, tilting it to the side or scratching incessantly at an ear, this could be a sign of a foxtail – – one that may be so deep inside the ear canal you can’t see it.

Eyes: Redness, discharge, swelling, squinting and pawing all may be signs your pet has a foxtail lodged in its eye.  Seek veterinary care immediately.

Nose:  If you see discharge from the nose, or if your pet is sneezing frequently and intensely, there may be a foxtail lodged in its nasal passage.

Vagina or penis:  Foxtails can find their way into these areas too.  If you notice your pet persistently licking at its genitals, foxtails could be the cause.


Any pet can get foxtails in the ears, nose, eyes or mouth. However, dogs with long ears and curly hair can be especially prone to foxtail problems.  You can prevent issues by:

Keep your pets out of overgrown, grassy areas.

If you know you have foxtail bushes in your yard, tell your gardener to clear them out.

If you and your pet have a routine trail you go on, keep an eye out for foxtails. Check your pet after your walk/jog. Carefully check your dog’s paw pads for foxtails – especially between the toes.

Keep your pet’s coat short during foxtail season

Check your pets coat, feet, and arm pits during foxtail season

Remember, foxtails won’t come out on their own and they can burrow anywhere.  If you suspect your pet has a foxtail-related issue, contact your veterinarian right away.  Whenever possible, avoidance of foxtail exposure is the best and only foolproof prevention.




Deciduous what?





One of the most common dental procedures that is performed on our young pets is the removal of retained deciduous canine teeth.  All of our pets have “baby” teeth, but only some of them need to have them removed.  What are they? Dogs and cats, like us, have two sets of teeth that develop during their lives. The first teeth that develop are the deciduous teeth – also known as “baby” teeth.   These teeth are followed at some time by the permanent teeth, or “adult” teeth. 

The deciduous teeth are little replicas of the adult teeth that will come along in the future. However due to the size of the young animal’s mouth, there are not quite as many deciduous teeth in the mouth as there will be in the future.  As cute, and as sharp as they are, the deciduous teeth cannot remain functional in your pet’s life time.  These teeth need to shed and be replaced by the permanent teeth.  The adult teeth start off as tooth buds at the base of the deciduous teeth, and so develop right below the deciduous teeth.  As the permanent teeth start to erupt (emerge from the jaw) they induce resorption of the roots of the deciduous teeth.  When this process is complete the remaining piece of the deciduous tooth falls out of the mouth…….. in most cases.


What problems occur?


Some deciduous teeth for some reason don’t undergo the proper root resorption required for their shedding. This will result in the deciduous teeth still being present with the permanent version of the tooth being erupted as well. This situation is a real problem for a pet. The deciduous tooth is the one in the correct position. However, the adult tooth has had to emerge in an incorrect position.  The problems that occur are twofold:


1) The two teeth are tightly jammed against each other, creating the perfect environment for accumulation of debris and increasing the likelihood of periodontal disease – often resulting in the loss of both teeth.

2) The permanent tooth is in the wrong position therefor causing irregular contact of opposing teeth in the upper and lower jaws.  These issues can be dealt with appropriately by extracting the deciduous tooth and leaving the permanent tooth.

Deciduous teeth can also be fractured. This results in the same issues as a fractured permanent tooth.  However,  the complicating feature with a dead, infected deciduous tooth is that there is a developing permanent tooth at its base, right where the infection of the deciduous tooth is being discharged! Fractured deciduous teeth must be extracted.

For the best results, the extraction of the retained deciduous tooth should occur as soon as it is apparent that it is not going to shed normally and the adult tooth is erupting. This means that if the deciduous tooth is not “wobbly” and any part of the corresponding adult tooth is visible, then the deciduous tooth is removed.   

New canine tooth budding out. The deciduous tooth is behind it.











Once the deciduous tooth is removed and there is still movement of the adult tooth, the adult tooth will preferentially move across into the space left by the now extracted deciduous tooth, into the correct position.  This will ensure your pet to have the best possible chance at having a healthy pain free mouth.  Keeping your pet’s teeth healthy is not an easy task. It takes diligence and time to brush and check on their teeth every day. Even for veterinarians and technicians this can be a chore, but if you make it a part of your regular routine you can save on vet bills and your pet from being in pain. We understand that some pets will not allow brushing and in this case we recommend more frequent dental cleanings and dental products to use at home. If you have further questions about dental health or would like to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to call 760-757-2442 or email




Older pets with deciduous teeth still in place will eventually have dental issues if not taken care of right away. Yearly dental cleaning and preventative care is the best medicine for our pets health!