Vet issues urgent dog warning over common plant

A vet has issued an urgent warning to dog owners over a plant that commonly grows in green spaces around the UK.

The seeds of the plants in particular can cause canines to develop a killer infection if consumed or inhaled, according to experts.

Foxtail plants - scientific name Alopecurus - are a part of the grass family and can cause serious problems if dogs come into contact with them.

The encounter can result in death if the seeds manage to get caught up through the ears, paws and skin.

Head veterinarian Sean McCormack told The Sun that dog owners should be especially vigilant during the summer months where the plant can be easily spotted.

Foxtail plants can grow up to a metre high, with hairy tips shaped like the tail of a fox that sprout spikey clusters of seeds.

Owners are being urged to keep their eyes peeled because the plants can grow in common walking areas and green spaces, such as meadows, paths and bogs.

The deadly weeds can even extend as far as growing on roadsides and bordering hedges.

Sean, describing foxtail's effect on dogs, said: 'Its spiky hairs that sit at the top of stems are actually incredibly sharp and it can pierce or scratch their skin or become embedded in their paws.'

The vet explained that if the seeds get lodged between a dog's claws, toes or between their paw pad and skin, it can result in intense pain.

Some breeds with drooping ears or longer, thicker coats are more likely to be at risk due to their fur essentially serving as a Velcro strip.

If the seeds are consumed, a deadly infection can quickly occur.

Some of the main symptoms that dog owners should be aware of are: painful lumps, swelling in paws and lethargic attacks.

A lack of appetite can also be experienced by some dogs because the ingested foxtail could be causing pain in their organs.

Vets are recommending owners to avoid walking through long, grassy areas during outings with their pets, and to always keep an eye out for the toxic plant.

If your dog happens to come into contact with foxtail or its seeds, it is advised - as with removing ticks - to use tweezers and remove any remnants of the plant stuck in their fur.

If an infection occurs, it is important to take your pooch to the local vet immediately to be assessed and further treated.