Foxtail Grass and Your Dog

Did you know that foxtail grass poses a serious threat to dogs? Foxtails have very sharp seeds, which can burrow into your pet’s skin. This can be very dangerous! Below, a Niwot, CO vet discusses foxtails.

Foxtail Basics

Foxtail grass used to be found mostly in the Western states. However, the seeds have spread, so it now grows in most of the continental US, as well as Canada. While early spring and summer are the peak season for foxtails, they actually grow from May to December. If your pup sniffs foxtail grass, the seeds can get into his ears, nose, throat, and paws, and even his genitalia.

Dangers of Foxtails

Foxtails do not come out by themselves, but will keep burrowing into your furry friend, and can eventually reach his vital organs. If not removed, they can cause abscesses, swelling, pain, and internal injuries. They can even be deadly!


Foxtails can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on where the awn is. Some common signs include swelling, limping, squinting, and sneezing. Your canine pal may also rub, scratch, shake, or tilt their head. Foxtails can get into your dog’s lungs, causing coughing. Red or runny eyes and noses can also be warning signs. Ask your vet for more information.

Checking For Foxtails

Check Fido’s coat daily during foxtail season. Pay extra attention to his mouth, nose, ears, and gums. Check those furry paws, too, especially between the toes.

What To Do If You Find A Foxtail

If you find a foxtail, use tweezers to remove it. However, if the foxtail is deeply embedded, is in a delicate area, or if the skin around it looks red, irritated, or swollen, contact your vet immediately.

Keeping Pets Safe

Be very careful with where you walk Fido. Grassy, unmowed fields often contain foxtails, but you can also find them growing on medians and even around lampposts. Immediately pull up any foxtails you find in your yard. Be sure to get the root! Pups with long ears and/or thick or curly fur are especially at risk. If your pooch has long hair, consider trimming it during foxtail season.

What About Fluffy?

Kitties can also get foxtails, though it’s more common for dogs to be afflicted. If you have a cat, keep Fluffy indoors.

Is your pet due for a veterinary exam? Contact us, your Niwot, CO vet, anytime!

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