It’s the oddest thing. I can go 3 months without seeing a blocked cat or a glaucoma, and all of a sudden I will see three in one day. It always comes in waves. In yesterday’s case, we marked the start of foxtail season.
In our area, foxtails are one of the banes of a dog’s existence. They aren’t found everywhere, but in my neck of the woods they are ubiquitous. Foxtails are, essentially, grass awns. When they dry out, they turn into nasty little sticky bayonets that stick to a dog’s fur, and work their way into all sorts of places- toes, noses, eyes, ears, brains, gums, tonsils, you name it. It’s amazing how quickly the whole big thing can bury itself into skin once the end gets a hold, and it results in a lot of pain for the pet.
The first case I saw was a gorgeous little guy who was licking his paw and limping. Emmett happened to be at work that day too and got to meet his doppelganger:
Can you recognize which one is Emmett?
Warning: these pictures are a teeny bit gross.
So when we clipped this pup’s foot, this is what we saw:
Classic painful draining tract. Note that you cannot see anything coming out of it at all.
We anesthetize these guys, because we have to stick a sterile metal probe in the painful wound and fish around:
Ta daa! The one on the left is a standard looking foxtail, pulled from his fur. The two on his right came from that wound on his toe. Ouch.
Our alligator forceps got some major usage that day. After getting that foot cleaned up, I had to tackle a large lab who was having terrible sneezing fits so badly that he was bleeding out of his left nostril. I don’t have any photographs, but in order to get a good look up the nose I had to put the dog under general anesthesia and look around his sinuses with an otoscope. Sure enough, he also had not one but two of those nasty foxtails wedged in his nose. In his NOSE! Double ouch!
And because the day wouldn’t be complete without a hat trick, we had a little spaniel who was rubbing her ear voraciously and very painful. When I peeked in, this is what we found:
I don’t know why these insisted on travelling in pairs, but in all three cases they did. Those ugly looking awns had lodged all the way up to the pet’s eardrum, rupturing it in the process. I’m hurting just thinking about it.
The good news is, with a little finesse and a lot of drugs, we were able to get those ugly buggers out of each and every dog, much to their relief. We have a few patches of foxtails popping up in our backyard- I know what I’m going to be doing this weekend.