Foxtails: Why They Are Dangerous for Dogs

If you tend to walk your dog in grassy areas, this blog is for you. One thing we all need to be aware of this summer when walking our pups is foxtails.

These tiny plants may seem harmless on the outside, but if your dog comes into contact with them, they can cause many issues for your pet. 

Here at Cosmic Home n Pet, we want to ensure that you and your dog are safe on every walk you take together! This blog will outline the dangers of foxtails, what signs to look for if they are attached to your dog, and what action to take to help them.  

Why Are Foxtails Dangerous?

A foxtail (also known as grass awns) is a spikelet or cluster of grass that disperses its seeds as a unit. The sharp seed heads of the foxtail plant can quickly end up in different parts of your dog (or cat). They can get stuck in the nose, eyes, between their toes, mouth or ears. If your dog happens to ingest one, the seeds do not easily break down within your dog’s body. A foxtail that becomes embedded inside your dog can cause a serious infection or could lead to death if left untreated. 

They Are Dangerous for Dogs

What Are The Signs That A Foxtail is Bothering Your Dog? 

Since foxtails can attach to different parts of your dog, different symptoms will be associated depending on where they are. In general, embedded foxtails can cause discharge, swelling, pain or abscesses. Here are the signs to look for from head to tail:


We all know dogs shake their heads every so often to relieve an itch or release something that may be trapped in their ear. If your dog, however, is scratching one ear excessively or tilting its head to one side, it might be a sign that a foxtail seed has made its way down your dog’s ear canal. At this point, you will have to have your vet check it out since they will be able to take a look down your dogs’ ear with a special scope.


Your dog may sneeze rather violently, paw at their nose, or they may even experience a bloody nose. This could all be due to a foxtail lodged in your dogs’ nasal passage. 


If your pup experiences redness, swelling, or discharge coming out of their eyes, this may be a very obvious sign that foxtail is the culprit. You must get them to the vet immediately if this happens.


Since foxtails have sharp seeds, they can easily become caught between your dogs’ toes. If you notice your dog is limping or swelling in the area, foxtails could be a potential cause.  


How can you help your dog?

May through December is usually foxtail season. You must examine your dog after your walks to make sure nothing has attached to them. They will be more at risk if you walk them through open fields. If you are going to walk them through overgrown, grassy areas, make sure you brush them regularly and get your dog’s fur cut on a regular basis. 

You should inspect your dogs’ faces, ears, mouths, and gums as well. If you notice any foxtails on your dog, use a pair of tweezers to remove them carefully. If it is too deep into your dog’s body part, you should call the vet right away. 

If you notice any foxtail grass growing in your lawn, be sure to pull them out right away. 

While we can’t protect our dogs from everything they come into contact with, prevention is key. As long as you take the proper precautions, you and your dog can enjoy plenty of fun summer walks together! 

If you ever need help walking your dog or caring for your pet, we are here to help! Don’t forget to check out our dog walking page to see how we can be there for you and your dog! 



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