Goatheads and Foxtails

I am not talking about the cute animal with horns .goat200

I am referring to this thorny critter. goatheads400

It has several names: sand burrs, puncture vines or goatheads.

My dogs have had lots of experience with goatheads. As you can see from the picture, they are hard, small stickers with sharp spines that pierce the skin and specifically dog paws.

They are painful to the touch. If the dog is smart, as soon as it feels a goathead attached to its paw, the dog will stop, lift its foot and attempt to dislodge it.

That’s what Bernie tried to do the other night.

I walk on the sidewalk, and both Bernie and Chris wander in the vacant field. It’s the 22nd of October 2017, and the entire field is brown with dead plants.

That’s an important fact. If it was springtime, I might have recognized this dog hazard. Goadheads are the product of this flowing plant. goathead flower400

 It puts out a pretty flower. However, as it matures, it forms tiny, soft goatheads. During the summer, the plant dies, the goatheads drop off, and its sharp spines lie on the ground… patiently waiting for Bernie or Chris to play close enough to surprise them.

Both dogs have been surprised. When it happens, both dogs lift their paw and expect me to come and rescue them. I don’t mind. It’s rather easy to remove the offending goathead.

I’d rather have gloves, though. The stickers cover the actual goathead. So, I’m going to feel at least one spine as I pull it off.

It is important to examine the entire pad totally. It is easy to see the goathead on the bottom of the pad. What can be missed is a goathead in between the individual dog pads.

Also, besides goadheads, a couple of other dangers exist when Bernie and Chris are investigating any ground area. Thorns and foxtails.


 foxtail400  The Foxtail plant is a grass-like week. It’s found in the Western half of the U.S.

I found this information from https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/foxtail-grass-and-your-dog#1

“Foxtail plants can be risky for your dog. 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 simply dig themselves directly into a patch of skin.”

“Tips for Preventing Foxtail Problems

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

  • Examining your pet’s coat during foxtail season — generally May through December — especially if you’ve gone walking in open fields. Brush your dog as necessary, looking especially closely for pointy foxtail awns in your dog’s thick or feathery fur.
  • Check your pup’s face and ears carefully for foxtails. Don’t forget to look in and around your pooch’s mouth and gums.
  • Carefully check your dog’s paw pads for foxtails — especially between the toes.
  • Use tweezers to remove any foxtails you can easily get to. But if a foxtail is deeply embedded, or if the area around it is red or swollen, call your veterinarian right away. Remember, foxtails won’t come out on their own, and they can burrow into the brain, spine, eardrums, lungs — actually, anywhere.

The easiest way to prevent foxtail problems is to keep your dog out of overgrown, grassy areas. You should also pull out any foxtail plants you find in your yard. Also consider trimming your dog’s hair during foxtail season, especially if it tends to persistently get foxtails in one spot.”

In Arizona, I don’t have the luxury of a grassy yard or place to take my dogs.

I’m limited to taking them to the desert and vacant lots. I do what I can to keep Bernie and Chris from obvious dangers… but I can’t eliminate everything.

I brush them, keep their coats short, clean, and I examine them. (and get stuck fingers when they get goatheads.) <sigh>

2 thoughts on “Goatheads and Foxtails

  1. josephlacey12

    Thanks, not that I enjoy picking those stickers out of my dog’s paws… I’m going to Quartzsite to test the solar next week…. just for the weekend.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s